Heidi Inlow, Operations Coordinator of Support After Abortion, and Lisa Rowe, CEO of Support After Abortion, discuss the striking similarities between abortion and miscarriage. Together they address what leaders within the abortion recovery movement need to do to improve their capacity to serve those impacted by miscarriage loss.
Like Abortion, No One is Talking About Miscarriage
Just as 1 in 4 women will experience abortion by 45, 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage. Although these two occurrences affect 50% of women, very little is spoken of either one. “Just as we need to begin talking about abortion, we need to begin having conversations about miscarriage too. We need to bring it up with our children, and we need to speak about it from the pulpit,” says Rowe, CEO of Support After Abortion. Lisa addresses the importance of church leadership’s involvement when she shares, “Because men are involved in an abortion experience and a miscarriage, this means 50% of a church congregation have been impacted by loss.” If the church is a place for the broken and the sick, it is time the difficult conversations are had, and those who are suffering are freed.
Heidi shares that while doctors treat miscarriage, they don’t speak to the emotional trauma. In Heidi’s experience, she was told her miscarriage was “normal” and felt like the medical community “brushed off” the experience. The medical community labels miscarriage as “reproductive loss,” grouping it with other types of loss, including abortion, stillbirth, and adoption. Heidi shared, “Although it’s normal for physicians to treat miscarriage, we women are leaving their offices broken.”
Where Do You Find Healing for Abortion and Miscarriage Loss?
Based on Support After Abortion’s consumer research, we know that 9 out of 10 women don’t know where to go for healing. It is much the same for those who have experienced miscarriage. While Heidi shares that there are books available, she comments, “Most of the resources are long—some 250 pages—or 30-week plans. What is missing is a specific resource that centers on a very clear conversation of ‘this is what happened to me, and this is how it affected me.’” Both Heidi and Lisa agree that collaboration with the medical community is needed. “If we equip doctors’ offices and pregnancy centers with a beginner-level resource that discusses miscarriage, helps women to express their emotions, and introduces them to healing programs, maybe it wouldn’t take people 22 years to seek healing as it did for me,” adds Heidi.
Support After Abortion has partnered with the organization Life Perspectives to provide a virtual healing group for miscarriage. Support After Abortion CEO Lisa Rowe shares, “The book, Hope After Loss, does meet the needs of some in that it is a first step in the journey of healing, but we need more resources for those who have experienced miscarriage.”
The Unraveled Roots
Just as 1 in 4 women will experience abortion by the age of 45 and 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage, it should be noted that 1 in 4 women experience sexual abuse. It is not uncommon to see the roots of sexual abuse in the stories of women who have experienced abortion and or miscarriage. Why do women who experience sexual abuse also seem to experience miscarriage or abortion? It is not uncommon for the lack of control one feels in a sexual abuse situation to carry into other aspects of life. Many abortion decisions are the result of external pressures.
Heidi shares that while she initially enrolled in the virtual healing group Unraveled Roots to learn about the program she would be offering clients, she ended up learning more about herself and her healing journey. As a result of the unlayering of previous hurts, Heidi has made connections to her behaviors and past experiences. “I realize now that an issue I had with a volunteer in my workplace was actually connected to the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. His interactions with me triggered the emotions I felt as a child when I had no control and was silenced. Through my healing, I’ve also been able to have greater insight as to why I parent the way I do and why I experienced detachment with my firstborn daughter.” As a result of her healing, Heidi now has more control of her responses and reactions—she has more awareness and understanding of why she might feel the way she does.
The Impacts of Miscarriage
Abortion and miscarriage share many of the same emotional impacts: guilt, shame, regret, relief, detachment, and the pain that spiders into other areas of one’s life. Lisa shares, “Heidi’s story is so common—a church-going woman, raised by church-going parents, was sexually abused and it was ignored. When Heidi got pregnant outside of marriage, she felt guilt and shame. When Heidi’s pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage, she kept the secret for 30 years, suffering in silence—just as she had with her sexual abuse experience.”
With such similarities between abortion and miscarriage, Inlow and Rowe of Support After Abortion believe there a series of steps leaders in the abortion healing movement need to take to improve their capacity to serve. First, there need to be conversations about miscarriage and abortion. These conversations need to happen within our culture, the medical community, and our churches. There is also a need for resources and healing programs for miscarriage in particular. Collaboration with medical professionals in the placement of resources would equip clients with the steps needed for healing.