Can God forgive my abortion?
Alice, age 55, presented with a recurrence of depression, the previous episode being 25 years earlier post-natally. She had been on antidepressants for a year at that time and had made a good recovery. She had mild episodes after the previous two pregnancies. As well as deciding to again treat with antidepressants, we went through many things in her life including the need to forgive and be forgiven. That was when she confessed tearfully of an abortion at age 18.
Can God forgive me?
Like many in this situation, she had remembered dates, had thought about when her baby would have gone to school, become a teenager, and possibly married and had children – her grandchildren. She was filled with grief, regret, and guilt. She was also angry – at herself, at her family who failed to support her, at her friends, and at God.
Common? Common enough to make the question of a previous abortion essential in the history of any depressed person.
But can God forgive me?
Well, yes, of course, He can and does. Is there any sin too big for God to forgive? After all, He said He would forgive if we were repentant and acknowledged our sin, and surely, the death of Jesus would cover all sin? Dare we suggest that God should have done more? As you have already acknowledged your sin before God, cried tears of repentance and asked for forgiveness, you can be certain that He has forgiven. You are forgiven. Absolutely.
Relief. Rest. Be still, my soul. Whiter than snow. Thank you, God. Create in me a pure heart, O God.
End of story? Well, yes, if this was a death-bed confession, it is more than enough to know you are forgiven and God can work a miraculous emotional healing as well. But if time allows there’s more to be done and checked to reach and ensure emotional healing and self-forgiveness. As well as the inevitable “if-onlys” to be worked through, anger needs to be felt and expressed in an appropriate way before she can fully forgive others – others who let her down at her point of desperation and perhaps influenced or coerced her to go through with the abortion. Once again, it is in a recounting of the facts “what happened” that she has a chance to put it all together.
But it’s not just significant others that are involved. It is the medical profession, too, and not just the medical staff that welcomed her at the abortion clinic – it includes the doctors who did not practice fully informed consent, who did not talk about the risk of prematurity with the next pregnancy and the associated risks of that, who did not even mention the possibility of a one-third increase in the risk of breast cancer, who did not talk about the risks to mental health, and who did not talk about what was going to happen to the baby (yes, a baby).
In addition there are the politicians who allowed legislation to proceed – as in Victoria, Australia, with no cooling-off period for reflection, with no parental consent necessary for girls under 18 years, and virtually no reason being needed for abortion to the end of pregnancy.
And then, there was the relative silence of God’s people.
It is in recognition of all this, with an appropriate sense of sadness and anger at a society which has lost its way that a sense of self-acceptance finally comes – not in any way to lessen her complicity but to realise she, too, is a victim. It is in a realisation of all this before God that she can once again say, “I’m so sorry, God” and once again know that she is forgiven and have a deeper reassurance and peace.
There will be times when the pain re-surface,s but she will have a new-found sense of strength and maturity that will help her to cope with other circumstances and also be in a position to help others.
Can God forgive my abortion? Oh yes, He can and does.
Dr Lachlan Dunjey August 2012. Copy Editing – Dr Niles Reddick