It’s my solemn hope and prayer that every post-abortion healing ministry, every pregnancy resource center in this country, along with every other pro-life organization out there, will see Donald Trump’s statement Wednesday on punishment for women who have abortions as a huge teachable moment. When I first learned of Trump’s comments concerning post-abortive women I immediately thought that this would do a lot of damage to the pro-life movement.
It’s no wonder I felt that way, at first, along with a lot of others in the pro-life movement. After all, during a town hall meeting recorded by MSNBC Trump originally claimed that if abortion were ever outlawed, women who have abortions should face “some sort of punishment.” Trump and his media handlers quickly went into back stroke mode and released a different statement:
“If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman, The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”
Despite the much improved follow-up, Trump’s new choice of words did little to extinguish the firestorm of criticism that erupted. However, some pro-life leaders, including Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, wisely issued strong and very empowering statements of their own. Fr. Frank Pavone did more than just point out the fallacy of Trump’s initial claims. He also shared insights about the damage abortion does to women, as well as the hope and healing available:
“As for punishing the woman, those who have had abortions are already in prison. As the Pastoral Director of the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion, Rachel’s Vineyard, and also of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, by which those who have had abortions speak out about their experiences, I know this very well. We don’t aim to imprison them, we aim to liberate them from the shame and guilt and wounds abortion brings. The punishment should be for the abortionist, not the baby’s mom.”
There are approximately four thousand abortions every day in America, and yet many post-abortive women, and others impacted by abortion, as well as those with a crisis pregnancy are not aware of Silent No More,Rachel’s Vineyard, and other ministries available to meet the needs of those looking for healing and support. I’m thinking of Heartbeat International, an amazing umbrella group for thousands of pregnancy resource centers across the nation that provide all types of assistance to unwed mothers and women struggling with their abortion decisions. I’m thinking of Mary’s Mantle in my own area of southeastern Michigan that provides a home and a whole host of other services also to unwed mothers. Or Save the 1, an outreach to women and men conceived through rape.
So instead of just criticizing and complaining, not to say that the candidate doesn’t deserve his lumps on this one, let’s seize this teachable moment to pass along important resources and sing the praises of these incredible ministries that as Fr. Frank reminds us, are there to truly liberate and help post-abortive women heal.