The ProLife Team Podcast 134 | Theresa Burke

Theresa Burke answers several questions for The Abortion Museum and this is the raw footage of our interview. This footage will assist us in creating a series of museum exhibits on the truth/history surrounding abortion.


The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Welcome to the Pro-Life Team podcast. My name is Jacob Barr, and in this episode, we’re sharing footage captured for the Abortion Museum. So, Teresa, I’m excited to have you on, well, in this interview for answering questions about feminism and abortion. Would you start off by saying who you are and tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to the subject of abortion? A little bit about my background is that I live in Philadelphia area, Pennsylvania, and that I come from a family of five, and all I can tell you is that it was by accident that I got into this, but there were a couple of key things that I suppose preceded it. I worked in youth ministry from the time that I was 18 years old. It was at our church, and I ran a youth group, and there was a survey done in the city of Philadelphia that was asking teens what the number one concern that they had.

This is back in the early 80s, and the number one concern that teens had was help for my friends who’ve had abortions, and that kind of floored us as the number one concern. You talk, you think about drugs or parenting communication or all this other stuff, but that was the thing, so it really piqued my interest, and I decided to do a few discussions on pro-life. I ended up coming across, this is a very old movie, but it was called The Silent Scream, and it was actually just an ultrasound of a baby in the womb, and at the time of the abortion, the baby’s mouth opens, and none of us could believe it, including myself, and I was only 18, so I wasn’t a lot older than everybody else, and we just couldn’t believe it, and then I started looking into this issue more, and through that, I went into counseling because I was working with youth group, and I decided to pursue, after a master’s in theater, I went from psycho, I went into psychodrama after the drama of the theater, and there’s no better than the drama of real life, right, so, but I had been directing plays for high schools and stuff like that, and then I just decided, oh, I really wanted to do something like this, and with all my work with youth, it seemed to fit, so, and I was also working at a crisis pregnancy center and doing the tests for women that came in and were pregnant, so I was already in the mix of, I could say dabbling, but so there’s a lot of things, there’s a lot of things that go into what becomes your life work, but it’s just confirmation after confirmation and kind of the things that really piqued my interest, so, but when I was in graduate school, one of my first assignments was leading a support group for women with eating disorders, and the subject of abortion came up in one of our groups. It was brought up by a woman I’ll call Debbie. She was having nightmares and flashbacks because of an abortion that she had suffered, and she brought it up to the group because she had just gotten out of the local psych ward. She was hospitalized because she had cut herself, and we wanted to know what happened, so she said that her husband would call her and leave messages on her ex-husband, she’s in the middle of divorce, reminding her of her abortion and calling her a murderer, and when she got these messages, it totally triggered her deepest trauma, and she took out a razor and started cutting her wrists, and we know this as a dissociative response because you can be so numbed out, so in shock that the pain is a way that people come back to their bodies. It can also become addictive, but that’s another story, but to stick with Debbie in this group, she was sharing her story, and one of the women in our groups said, your husband’s a horrible man.

I had an abortion too, and it would just kill me. Somebody kept reminding me about it, and then another lady got up and started cursing and swearing, and she said, you know, fuck him. Having an abortion is the best thing I ever did, and to hell with anybody who should try to make me feel guilty about abortion. She said having an abortion is the best thing I ever did, and she cursed out in a blue streak anyone who thought differently, and then another woman actually got up, and she left the room. We heard her car screeching out of the parking lot, and this is my first group, not a youth group, but like a therapeutic support group, and it was like a bomb went off. I had no idea what I had stepped upon, but I think you could say you knew I showed tremendous potential as a therapist because I called the girl who left, and I said, are you okay?

You seemed upset. Wasn’t that insightful? So she just said, I wish we could focus on eating disorders and stop talking about abortion, and I said, did you have one too? She said, it was a long time ago, and I don’t want to talk about it, and so what I saw here in this little microcosm of the world, which is how I saw the group, is that there are people like Debbie who are in tremendous pain, active symptoms of PTSD, the cutting, the numbness, and the trauma that she was enduring, and then there’s others who are so angry in their defense of abortion rights, like the woman who got up, that she dismissed any meaningful discussion that we might have had about women’s personal experience of having an abortion, what that experience was like, because most women don’t talk about it, and the girl who left was in the fight or flight. She fleed. She couldn’t stand to even hear the word and had to exit quickly, and we see these reactions all over in our society, the angry feminists defending it, dismissing any women who might feel different, trying to, if anyone’s been to the March for Life, there’s the Silent No More Awareness campaign, on the steps of the Supreme Court, they give their testimonies of how much abortion hurt them, and there’s all these feminists there who shout them down. They have megaphones.

They scream, and they yell because they want to silence their voices, but the crux of all this is that I’m a student, and this is my first support group, and I have to go to my supervisor, who’s a psychiatrist, and I have to report on the whole what happened in my group every week, right? So when I tell him what happened, he leaned into me, he stuck his finger in my face, and he said, Teresa, you have no business prying into people’s abortions. Having an abortion is a private, personal thing, and I was instructed not to bring up the subject, and I said, but I didn’t bring it up.

Debbie brought it up. She’s having nightmares. She’s having flashbacks. I think she has PTSD, and he said, that’s a psychotic reaction caused by her medication, and just an FYI for any listeners, that means you’re allergic to the medication if you’re having some kind of psychosis, and you should get the hell off it. So that was my experience of the mental health professionals, and just his refusal to allow it, and we know with any addictions, especially eating disorders, it’s not what you’re eating. It’s what’s eating you, and the emotional dysregulation that comes from that, and so far from … I just began to see abortion as a trauma for many women, and out of that, I started Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries, which is a very unique kind of …

I shared that I had a background in theater, so part of why it’s unique is that it’s a sensory-based treatment, because I use all these different items. We could call them props, but in trauma therapy today, like 40 years later, they’ll call this a sensory-based treatment, because trauma happens in the body, and the physiological arousal, fight, flight, fear, freeze, the survivor responses that people go into, many people can become stuck in them for years, and so what they’ve discovered about trauma is that talk therapy doesn’t necessarily fix it, and I saw that so quickly, that talking about it seemed to make women more aroused, more into a survivor mode, like fight or flight, hyper-vigilant, fearful, maybe very avoidant, or just shutting down and going numb. I saw that really quickly, and it was then that I incorporated very powerful rituals for grieving. By rituals, I mean lighting candles and pouring water, and sensory-based means that we’re touching, and we’re feeling, and we’re connecting in a way that helps keep the person grounded, so that they can get through the experience, not just of talking about it, but grieving the loss, because this is what happens. It’s called a disenfranchised grief, because women don’t process their experience. Usually, they just want to get it over with and forget about it. Some people actually dissociate from the memory of it.

That’s very common, and so healing becomes harder and harder when no one else wants to talk about it. As I spoke to teenage groups later and went to schools, I would ask the students, how many of you know someone who has an abortion? They all knew someone. They saw they were suffering, but how many of you have ever heard their story? Not one person raised their hand. They just knew they were in stress. In the meantime, all these years later, Rachel’s Vineyard has spread throughout the world.

It was spread by the people whose lives it changed, because they thought they were the only ones. I always think that the radical feminists are a vocal minority who claim to speak for all women, because they had their own agenda there, which we’ll talk about today, but that’s what got me into this. I stayed in it because it kept growing and growing, but I did create two other programs, which I thought were linked and related in many ways. One is Grief to Grace, and that is for healing the wounds of abuse. That’s a week long, not a weekend, for women who had suffered any kind of abuse, emotional, physical, sexual. We deal with traffic victims, but again, in this culture, we see the dehumanization of women. Feminism should be addressing those issues, and it only perpetrates more violence against women, especially in this intimate place of their womb.

I can share more stories of that as we go on today. My husband and I ran a maternity home, and that’s where I started Rachel’s Vineyard. I was doing support groups in my home, and then I started the weekend retreats, which I thought was better, because week by week, if you miss a week, you miss a lot, and you have to go back to life. I thought it was a very safe way to take everyone away, have them sleep in this building, like a retreat center. We had a 40-bedroom convent, so we used one of the floors just for the post-abortion group. Then we included men and eventually grandparents. Even abortionists have come on Rachel’s Vineyard, and so have those involved in the abortion industry who said, I didn’t know where else to go to heal.

I do have five kids, and my husband is a licensed social worker, so we’ve worked together for many years. Thank you for sharing your backstory. The first question we have for you for this interview series or set is, what is a woman? I want to say a woman, well, there’s the obvious biological answer to that question. A woman’s an adult female with double X chromosomes. I think the thing that makes a woman a woman and a man a man is that our bodies are organized around sexuality differently. Our bodies are organized around two related functions, basically the production, the storage, and the delivery of eggs, and the gestation of another human being.

It’s a quite unique, special thing that only our bodies can do. We’re biologically and hormonally equipped to have babies. That doesn’t mean we all have to be bred or have a million kids or not choose other things. As we know, there’s plenty of people who don’t become mothers, but that is biologically what a woman is. Of course, there’s the ontological question, which I think is more relevant here, which is the nature of a woman. That should flow out of our creation of being equal, but very different persons, very different. Yet, what I think that society fails to recognize is the potentially complementarity in our natures.

There’s gifts that men bring, there’s gifts that women bring, and that together we have a wonderful powerhouse. One of the things that abortion, of course, has done is the great divide of the sexes and just the way that the mother is pitted against her very own child, and it does nothing to help relationships at all. I’ve seen that wholesale in my almost 40 years of work with men and women throughout the world. We’re in over 50 countries. I’ve been everywhere, and I’ve sent people everywhere. This is a huge worldwide ministry. We’ve collected a lot of data.

We’ve researched a lot of aspects of it. That’s what we can keep talking about because it is related, I suppose. I like to see myself as just in the healing, not political, not taking a stand. We’re just involved in the cleanup of the trauma and the devastation, but these issues are political. They become political, especially when people are advancing the agenda. Yeah, that makes sense. That’s good.

To the best of your knowledge, are women in America pro-choice, pro-life, undecided, or something else? I’m going to say something else here, and I’ll describe that in a minute. Polls suggest that women favor access to abortion services, but they’d like to see reasonable restrictions. Since Roe versus Wade was overturned and the fight’s gone back to the States, there’s just tremendous money and agenda being poured into this. I think that the experience of ending a pregnancy is very different than being pro-choice or pro-life. There are so many women who might have said that they always believed they were pro-life until they’re in that situation. They’re so frightened, and they’re so scared.

There’s so much coercion and manipulation by parents, by employers, by friends, and by partners. 65% of women polled, and this is pretty standard across all sorts of polls, feel that they were coerced into unwanted abortions. That has bearing when we think about choice, but you buy the lie, you know what I mean, when it’s drilled in again and again. When you have it healed, you can become even more crazed in trying to avoid it by bringing everyone into the experience so that you can normalize it, legalize it, so that it doesn’t have to be traumatic. Even in the most pristine hospitals all over the world, this is an unspoken hideous violence against women. They don’t always talk about it, but when they’re in an environment that’s safe, when everybody shares the same wound, the honesty, the recognition, it’s just profound. Then the desire to help others, like I said, they thought they were the only one, or that they were crazy, or that nobody else feels this way because there’s so much dismissing even of post-abortion trauma.

Even printing research is hard, especially in this country, but other countries have done well, and medical records don’t lie, so we can mine a lot of data through that. I believe that the other that I want to say is that many women are traumatized, so are many men traumatized. When we say, are they pro-choice, pro-life, I think they’re traumatized. They’re in that numbness, fight, flight mode, avoidance, denial, or justification. That stops us always because we see through the lens of our trauma, and we need to survive it and justify ourselves. What isn’t transformed is then transmitted into the next generation. I think that’s what we see happening.

We could talk more in another podcast about all the damage in people’s sexual dignity, and even the love of their bodies, or the acceptance of their bodies, whether it’s an eating disorder, or whether it’s, I don’t want to have hips and boobs because I want to identify as a male. I’m sure I’ll be contemplating more about this, but it’s a surgery that’s supposed to fix everything, right? I put this in the line of traumatic reenactment. This is my field, traumatic reenactment. I wrote a book about it, Forbidden Grief, The Unspoken Pain of Abortion. Reenactment is all the ways that people relive the experience of abortion by trying to master their feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. Going into advocacy, trying to get everyone around you, coming up to the causes and the marches.

What started out as trying to bring rights to women turns into all this where everyone’s claiming they’re a victim of something. Then you have the victim identity politics that wants a right for everything. When we enshrine the right to kill as a human right, we’re in deep trouble as a nation, as a world. That’s kind of what’s happening, I think. That’s my answer. Oh, makes sense. That was good.

That was a good answer. In your words, what is feminism and are most women feminists? What is feminism? I think that the goal of feminism originally was to strengthen the position of women in the world to appreciate differences and their diversity from men and ultimately to gain true equality. I do think that radical feminists have completely lost touch with our feminist foremothers and the original progressive leaders who established the Equal Rights Amendment. They had very strong-held pro-life beliefs. You’ve probably had people on your show before who’ve spoken to this, have you?

Can I share some of the quotes? Do you think your listeners are well-versed in the early feminists? No, please go ahead and share the quote.

That would be good. Okay. Alice Paul, she was the original Equal Rights Amendment. She authored that, and she referred to abortion as the ultimate exploitation of women. I would agree with her. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the architect and author of the Women’s Movement and most important strategies and documents, she wrote, when we consider that women are treated as property at the time, it’s degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit. She also continued, let women assert herself in her native purity, dignity, and strength to end this wholesale suffering and murder of helpless children.

With centuries of denigration, we have so little of true womanhood that the world has but the faintest glimmering of what a woman is or should be. I think that’s so true even today. And Matilda Gage, she said, the crime of abortion is not one in which the guilt lies solely or even chiefly with the woman. I hesitate to assert that most of this crime of child murder, abortion, and infanticide lies at the door of the male sex. And for me, I do like to focus on the complementary but different natures, but at the same time, you know, affirm the equality and rights of women legally and socially in our society while not embracing the more destructive aspects of feminist, radical feminist ideology and sexual liberation because abortion on demand is not integral to women’s freedom or equality. In fact, these things wound us deeply in our core identities and actually leave us more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. I really appreciate you sharing those quotes and your thoughts.

In your opinion, what are some of the positive contributions of feminism and what are some of the negatives? I think certainly anything that helps to address the social issues that discriminate against women and any opportunities for education, wages, employment, the right to vote. These have all been really positive and important movements forward. And I always considered myself, I could say pro-life feminist, but I believe that the negative implications began with the promotion of abortion to feminism, the distortion of it, and the killing of innocent children as a cure for the social and economic problems of the day is just so wrongheaded, in my opinion. And after getting married, my husband and I ran a maternity home back in the early 90s on the rough edges of West Philadelphia. And we ran a pro-life residence for homeless pregnant women. And I was on the board of directors and I got my husband to leave.

He was working at Catholic Charities as a social worker. And he came to be the administrator of the home because I wanted real estate so I could have a place for Rachel’s media retreats. That’s the truth here. But in the meantime, I worked counseling the residents and I became deeply aware of the cultural, the political, and the historical family structures that created ongoing cycles of poverty and the oppression and discrimination and a spiraling sense of self-hatred that seemed so common in all the women who came in crisis pregnancies. And I noticed that the majority, if not all of our black residents, they came from generations and generations of fatherless families and they knew violence, sexual assault, street shootings, and drug abuse of parents and domestic violence and enduring grief of having mothers and fathers living out long sentences in prison. So all these kind of city urban problems were right there in our home and they had no comps. I don’t mean our home, but the mother’s home it was called.

And it was really so foreign to them that any man would be faithful or would stand by them and support them and help them nurture their children. It was like a foreign concept. And this can be in either race, but it was very predominant for the black. And even when we think of equal rights for black with the disproportionate number of blacks being aborted as part of a genocidal policy that was implemented by Margaret Sanger. I think we’re going to talk about that a little later, but they had no appreciation of their unique dignity or the precious value of the children that their bodies had somehow surprisingly created. And so we work diligently to address the realities that contribute to the high rates of abortion because many felt they had no choice, but abortion given the lack of education, instability in their relationships, lack of employment, affordable housing, and childcare, even childcare is, you know, all these things haven’t moved forward in all the years I’ve been doing this. So when we think of how feminists has failed to achieve its goal, they’ve never addressed these things because abortion has been the answer.

And so, but while we were there, I think that, you know, we started a program while they were pregnant, and they could stay on after with their baby. While they were pregnant, they would earn their graduate equivalency, their GED. And well, and then we arranged with local businesses, we got computer room, and people were coming in to teach them computer skills, so that local businesses could employ them. So we’re really trying to just use that time. So this is hard work. And I think it might seem easier to just pay for them to have an abortion than try to fix the societal ills that lead to it in the first place. But just the mentality that, that, you know, you can have sex with any Tom, Dick, or Harry, and they’re not going to stay around.

And abortion has also contributed to that mentality, that you don’t have to be responsible after you conceive a child. And these are, these are some big problems, I think, that have happened. But what I’ve witnessed, of course, is this trauma, which I mentioned, and many women describe abortion as more brutal than rape, and more violent. And there’s grief and sadness and shame and anger. And many have learned to numb themselves through alcohol and drugs, or master their trauma through repetitions of it. And women who suffered the loss of their children are the victims of this, this violence, as I said. So, and women with a history of abortion are more likely to suffer severe physical and psychological problems than those who have not had abortions, and there’s plenty of research on this. And they also require more social support services, and they’re more likely to go through a divorce or have substance abuse, and have lower motivation for irregular contraception.

And this is where we see these patterns of repeat abortion. And that is not a choice not to contracept, as Planned Parenthood would say when these things are debated, but it’s a symptom of trauma. Repetition is the greatest indicator we have that trauma has occurred. So. Wow. Thank you for sharing on that. So, would you consider yourself a feminist?

And please explain. I can’t say I identify with the feminist movement of today, but I would have, I definitely agree with our feminist foremothers. And as, if I am going to call myself a pro-life feminist, with the, you know, it’s, it’s, I think it’s just wanting women to have equality, respect, and care. And I’d love to see health and dignity restored and value to all women, regardless of their race or creed. And I long for the day when everyone in our society would work together to put aside our disordered habits for ones that nourish and sustain our lives. And the lives of the people that we care for, because women are very relational. This is the gift we bring to the culture.

It’s in our natures. And true feminism, true feminism would lift the oppressive denial and the agonizing experiences countless women have suffered. In 38 years, close to 40, probably 39 years now, listening to women all over the world who’ve been traumatically impacted by this pain, we hear this dull, numb rhetoric that abortion is a carefully made decision between a woman and her healthcare provider. But in reality, the first and last time they ever see this doctor is when their legs are open on this abortion table and they’re submitting to this degrading procedure. So yeah, I think they’ve gone way off, feminists of today. Yeah, that makes, that’s good. So feminism, gender, and women’s issues are politically charged topics that candidates often use to drum up votes, motivate their base, demonize political opponents.

When those topics are combined with the topic of abortion, candidates can swing a lot of votes in their favor by saying the right thing about feminism and abortion. In your view, how can female voters avoid being taken for granted and stay principled enough to navigate through the rhetoric and manipulation? That’s such a good question. What that abortion is so politically charged and that women are frequently manipulated by the candidates trying to get the women’s vote and how can they not be manipulated through the rhetoric? The success, I think, of that ballot initiative in Ohio last November, it actually really revealed the manipulation of women’s feelings and their concerns to approve a very radical pro-abortion action that allows abortion right up to the moment of birth. And it threatened all previous existing laws that might limit abortion or protect women from dangerous late-term abortion procedures or informed consent about the risks. Anything that would put a bump in the road from their decision to go right into it, they’re removing it because they’re sort of labeling it as harassment and violence against women and taking away rights.

And so there’s a lot of word salad around all this stuff and the slick ads that are used during the campaign that were leading up to the vote wrongly communicated that the ballot initiative was necessary to respond to pro-life laws that are a threat to women. So they’re playing the threat card. And we already know a lot of these folks are in a survivor mode of outrageous defense of abortion, feeling unsafe in their own bodies. We saw this when the Supreme Court overturned it. They were attacking crisis pregnancy centers and saying, if we’re not safe, you’re not safe. So we’re going to go after you women who want to have your babies since we’re not safe. But that idea of safety actually all resides in their body because their body is having all the physiological arousal of trauma triggers.

So even remembering it, having it questioned, it’s pricked the conscience of our nation. I’ve seen it that way. Our hotline was flooded for weeks and weeks after that. People were coming for help who never, ever thought anything was wrong with their decision. And a lot did also during COVID because they didn’t have all the distractions. So after COVID, when we opened up our retreats, they were flooded with women in their late 60s and 70s, women who would have seen themselves as pro-choice till they were thinking about their lives. It was really kind of extraordinary.

But getting back to the political candidates, I’m sorry, I’m digressing here. But these ads, there was so much money poured into Ohio to campaign, to manipulate, to overturn all this. And of course, a lot of what they said was so misleading. Women aren’t going to be left to die if they have a complication or by anybody. And it’s so important to counter the misinformation and provide testimonies from women wounded by their abortion experience, especially in the later term procedures and also with chemical abortion. Hmm, that’s good. I really appreciate your thoughts there.

I think I hear a little bit of a background noise and it’s OK, like with an air conditioner or something. But I’d like to just maybe give my videographer 10 seconds of room noise, which means we’ll just let it record for 10 seconds and not say anything. And then that way he can take that fingerprint of that room noise and remove it. Oh, that’s OK. Well, I want to record it. I want to record 10 seconds with it so he can remove it from the previous answers. The last two or so, I guess.

But yeah, go ahead and give us 10 seconds now. OK, let’s do it one more time, but we can’t make any noises, so it’ll pick up anything. Sorry, let’s do 10 more seconds. Here we go. Perfect. All right. So now we’ll keep going and we can leave that on and it won’t make any difference because we can remove that noise.

And now that we have the fingerprint of it. So as you may know. Yes, as you may know, early feminists in the 1800s and early 1900s were anti-abortion. But later, feminists mostly embraced abortion choice as a pillar of mainstream feminism. In your opinion, what caused this change? The change from the those who laid the original groundwork for for feminine rights, feminist rights, I think that change really came about. I actually have a couple of thoughts on this, and I’ll share with where I first discovered this with a personal story, because when I was in supervision, I told what happened in that eating disorder group.

But when I went on for my doctorate, I was in supervision at University of Pennsylvania and I wanted to go to a therapist and she had written a book. It was a feminist book about. It’s just a feminist book and the fact that she had written a book sort of impressed me and I wanted to have a supervisor who who I thought would like teach me good things and help me to be like, you know, help with the rights of people and whatnot. So, so I went to her and when I was pregnant with my first child, well. Something happened at the end of our relationship, and I’ll share that first, and then I’ll tell you this backstory because I think they’re related. I wasn’t with her very long and one of the subjects that I wanted to do was I want to do a research project on the let down reflex of nursing mothers, because some of my patients with abortion trauma who had postpartum depression felt so toxic and they also had histories of abortion. So they had history of abortion and then later postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis as well.

So one of them was hearing voices, hearing to throw your baby out the window. You, you killed two others. Why not this one? Right? So frightening things. And then other women felt so toxic that they couldn’t relax. Their baby became a trigger to their abortion trauma, and they couldn’t bond with the child.

They couldn’t nurse. They become so uptight. Their milk wouldn’t let down. And there was a whole, you know, there were many patients with postpartum depression and I wanted to research the link between that and abortion. So that was the first thing. And my supervisor then said, Teresa, I just have to stop you. She said, supervising you will contribute to pro-life ideology, and I have an ethical problem with that.

And she said, furthermore, I think that the surgeon general at the time, we’re going way back, C. Everett Koop has said there’s no such thing as post-abortion trauma. So I got this triding and because I had had a pregnancy loss of one of my children well into the pregnancy, and it was kind of traumatic for me, but I’d already been working with women. I’m like, really, you know, to have to go through that experience. And she said that I was projecting my issues on the women I worked with when I was already working with them. And then this happened, but it was just, it was so disgusting, like what she said to me. And so actually what C.

Everett Koop said was that the available data was flawed and he recommended that millions of dollars of government money go into researching this common elective procedure that so many women have. And that’s what he actually said, but she’s saying he knows more about it than me. Like, who am I to question the surgeon general, right? So it was like a real shaming kind of event, but I left and I’m walking down the streets of Philadelphia. I get to my car and I’m getting more and more mad, you know, getting mad. So I turned around and I went back and I knock on her door. She opens the door and she says, oh, I can see you have some issues.

So I said, this is not my issue. This is your issue. And I do not want to pay for supervision to be aborted from your practice because my life doesn’t match your ideology. And she fuddled around and said she could invite me back next week for a free supervision and I could settle up my unresolved issues. Right? And I was like, no, I’m not coming back here.

I said, I’d like my check back. And she did give it back to me and I left. And that was the day I vowed I would write that book for big and grief to validate the experiences. And why is the story important? That’s one thing. But when I was pregnant with my first child, she gave me this book by Phyllis Chesler, who was the author, a very famous feminist woman. She’s the author of Women in Madness, which is bigger than the Bible.

And it’s all about through the ages, mental health and women and the way women were institutionalized and all this stuff. And but she wrote another book after having four abortions called The Diary of Motherhood. And she gave this book to me and it said, oh, it was signed by Phyllis Chesler herself, who I think might have been her patient, actually. And it just said to Teresa, happy motherhood. Well, I remember reading it and I was frightened by the emotional roller coaster because if Phyllis Chesler is having this experience, is this what awaits me? I never had a baby before, you know? So she talked of freaking thoughts of suicide, intrusive thoughts, continual infanticiding her living baby that was born, The Diary of Motherhood, and a terrifying depression that no one understood and drinking throughout her pregnancy.

These are all symptoms that I see. They’re like textbook cases of post-abortion trauma. But back then I was so new to all this, but I was observing it and, you know, I just thought, does everyone have murderous fantasies like this, you know, when the baby’s crying and whatnot? So I decided to put it down and I told her I’m going to read something more affirming of the mother experience because this book was like, not anything that was going to make me feel anything but anxious, right? So she then accused me that I was trying to glamorize motherhood, right? And I can assure you that was far from romanticizing any of this. I’m in the middle of graduate school and my stomach’s growing big and I have the nausea and all the changing roles that that would require of me like any woman.

That’s why it takes nine months to have a baby because our body and our mind and our schedules all have to adjust to the idea. And yet abortion comes in as this sensational answer when women are most vulnerable, you know, and maybe fear or a little bit anxious. But anyway, today I recognize that With Child is a very compelling, tragic diary of someone struggling with post-abortion trauma. And she had undergone four abortions before she decided to carry her baby Ariel to term and all this distorted sleeping, the inability to concentrate, enormous ambivalence. She spoke about the agony of being emotionally alone, unable to talk to anyone about her fears, her terror, her overwhelming distress, and it all began during her pregnancy. So this super confident author is like falling apart in her pregnancy and she goes through to describe every symptom. And I just highlighted all of this.

I teach a course on it now. I take it out and I have everybody say, what’s it a symptom of? Intrusion, constriction, flashbacks, nightmares.

What is it? And at the end, I just felt like Gloria Steinem actually extolled this book as providing myth shattering insights that will affirm women’s sanity. And I was like, oh, dear God. But Gloria Steinem also had a traumatic abortion. And I think that many of those that lay the progressive abortion rights, Kate Michelman, Gloria Steinem, even Sarah Weddington, they all had traumatic abortions that they couldn’t talk about and hadn’t resolved. And then they put all their action into political activism to legalize it, bring everybody into the misery. Misery loves company, doesn’t it?

But it just seemed horrible that we should want to normalize this type of horror matched with pregnancy. And I think that the residual symptoms of that are just like everywhere. So when there isn’t healing, everything is skewed sideways. And as I said earlier, if it’s not transformed, it’s transmitted to the next and the next. And I certainly haven’t gone through the experience five times, like, of course, the benefits of the children and the gift of a family and the unique contribution that all of my children will make to society as anyone’s children has the potential and capacity to do. It’s just a colossal loss of human life. And it does degrade the dignity of all of us as human beings.

But I think that that’s where it started. And with all of them sidestepping their grief into the fight response of trauma as a survivor mode, I’m going to fight for your right to have it and your right to have it. In fact, let’s not let anyone have babies now. Let’s make sure they have an abortion. And unfortunately, now it’s not just the feminists, but we have corporate corporations taking on this aspect where Citibank is going to pay for you to go out of state to have your abortion. The military will pay for a three week vacation so that you can have your abortion in the hotel of your choice and a nice rest besides because they know it’s cheaper for businesses to abort a baby than have time, flex time in the workplace, shared job for working mothers, your kid’s sick, and you’re going to miss a day off, maternity leave, add it all up. It’s cheaper for them.

So then it becomes an economic screw job where we’ll profit at your expense. And we’d rather help you destroy your family than support you in having one. And I think that that’s pretty widespread. I’ve even had women come through Rachel’s Vineyard who were the heads of huge corporations. And until they grieve their abortions, they didn’t even realize the hell that they put pregnant women under or mothers with children, just how difficult they made it because they paid their dues to get where they are. And one of them said, I had this idea like the hell I was going to let anybody advance without making sacrifices the way she had because she had lost her whole family. And when the time she realized that her work didn’t mean anything to her anymore, she wished she had a child.

She wished she had a daughter who would have been getting married now because all her friends have families. And, you know, it just like it catches up to you in a post-traumatic stress. And there’s this moral injury, very similar to the soldiers in the psychology of killing. And I do know a bit about this. I wrote another program for soldiers called Duty to Heal, finding peace for a soldier’s heart. And that is a whole week long program to address the moral injury. We actually piloted that on veterans in a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat before I went to the trouble to write a whole new retreat.

And at the end of the retreat, they said, we thought there was no one in the world who understood what we had been through other than soldiers who had been there on the field in combat. But after being here on this weekend with you, and this was a special forces guy, he said, we decided that you have it worse than us because it was your own children you killed. That’s the moral injury right there. Wow. Thank you for sharing on that. That was really good. What are some of the benefits of pregnancy and childbirth and what are some of the risks or drawbacks?

Well, historically, prior to the development of modern medicine and midwifery, women and their preborn newborn and their moms face considerable risk in days past, but those working with the poor and sensing the challenges facing women when the men don’t love or support or protect them or might act in abusive ways, they were led to see contraception and abortion as necessary for women to be free. To develop their social and their legal rights. So, but, you know, we’ve learned that this is a false dichotomy and medicine has advanced so far and we can work for the legal and social equity of women, ensure access to health care for mothers and children. And at the same time, share the truth that abortion and sexual intimacy divorce from committed relations is a far greater threat to families. I think that it is and it has been. So, especially with the poorest of the poor in New York City, for example, 7 out of every 10 African American children die in the womb from abortion. So, but that’s, that’s some of the drawbacks here, because I think that many times the threats of the risks are exaggerated compared to the risks that are minimized and obscured and not even brought to the attention.

So you wanted to have informed consent before you make a decision. I think that protection against breast cancer is known to be a very good benefit. When you allow your breast to mature to the place where it produces milk, that’s an absolutely scientifically known benefit, a protective measure against breast cancer. And the risk of abortion, of course, doubles that. And the more abortions you have, that risk increases. So that’s one benefit. Yep, that makes sense. That’s good.

So people have argued, I’m sorry, every pregnancy has some risks. Do those risks help justify abortion choice policy? I don’t believe so. We can understand the temptation to sue it as a necessary solution, a necessary evil, as some people say, given the inequity and injustice endured by a lot of women facing unplanned pregnancy or wanting reasonable living of poverty, especially as the economy goes up and up and up in inflation. Like, who can afford diapers these days?

Like, it’s hard. So our economy kind of increases the risk as well. But many traumatized people, this idea of the traumatic reenactment, I think is really important to start seeing and recognizing in our society. And a worldwide meta-analysis was conducted by Dr. Priscilla Coleman. She’s a research psychologist. And using a meta-analysis is basically where you take many, many studies and you combine them all.

And what she discovered, and these were really good studies, and this was published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. She found that women with a history of abortion face higher rates of anxiety, up to 34%, higher depression, a 37% higher increase, heavier alcohol, 110% higher, marijuana, 230% higher, and very high rates of suicidal behavior, 155% higher. So this is many, many studies with good controlled variables. And that was her findings. And she also found that women who delivered an unplanned pregnancy were significantly less likely to have mental health problems than were similar women who aborted unplanned pregnancies. And women with a history of abortion were 55% more likely to have mental health problems than women who didn’t abort an unplanned pregnancy. The APA, American Psychological Association, they have identified many risk factors for at least 15 risk factors.

So like a previous history of mental health, how many people don’t have that? Histories of sexual abuse preceding abortion or other traumas. Many children are growing up in traumatic childhoods and they’re vulnerable to trauma because it’s a death experience. So let’s just say your dad died when you were little and now you’re on an abortion table. So like death becomes a connector to previous trauma. And then this is another thing that I don’t think is given much publicity at all. And that is in the Journal of OBGYN, there is an increased risk of premature birth that’s directly linked to surgical abortions.

And the New England Journal of Medicine was particularly concerned because Black Americans have higher percentage of abortions than white people. And they have more as well, not just one or two, they have multiple abortions. So with each one, and this is because incompetent cervix is caused by abortion. When the tiny muscle fibers are torn during the insertion and dilation that’s forced open during an abortion procedure. So it creates a weakness in the cervix. So as the weight of a developing baby starts pressing down, these women are more likely to have premature births, which results in astounding rates of cerebral palsy. So not only is there a risk to them and their mental health or their own reproductive damage, but there’s also risk to the wanted children who are going to come after this procedure, not just in healthcare costs for a premature birth, but in a lifetime care for children with some of these profound disabilities from being born too early.

So I think that this is really serious stuff and there isn’t informed consent about it. And I think it’s really alarming. So people have argued that abortion choice policy helps women achieve equality with men and overcome historic obstacles. How is that supposed to work? And do you agree or disagree with that logic? I do disagree that abortion helps women achieve equality with men and overcome historic obstacles for sure. When the Supreme Court initially legalized abortion like 50 years ago, is that what it is this year?

It did so based on a segregated view of women and their unique role in shaping the culture, in influencing the family and the development of future citizens. So this distorted view actually portrayed women as isolated individuals as it released society from any responsibility to assist women and their children. Instead, the court placed the full burden and the decision directly on the shoulders of women. My body, my choice, you have no say man, right? It’s all me. And they swallowed that. That’s okay.

So Hugh Hefner actually boasted that his playboy empire probably had more to do than any other company with Roe versus Wade because he helped to fund the original legal campaign, the amicus brief, which institutionalized abortion rights. It was an entitlement that he welcomed, of course he did, as a clever route for men’s freedom from the consequences of using a woman’s body for profit or for passing pleasure. They don’t have to pay child support and they can destroy all evidence of any kind of statutory rape or child abuse. Like it lets them off the hook. So how does that help us be equal to men? It’s beyond me. And what the court failed also to acknowledge is that women are deeply rooted in relational attachments.

This is our gift. We’re like communal people. We’re capable of tremendous love and courage and the capacity to sacrifice out of love. Women are heroic in what we do out of our commitment and love to those that we care for, even in our vocations. And we can cope with the challenges and the welcome joys of unplanned pregnancy as long as we’re given the support needed. And I think that all this just strips women of all support. It ensured that women understand that the full responsibility of childbearing is her burden alone.

And yet it was celebrated as a giant step forward for women’s equality. And this extreme abandonment is a far cry from any kind of empowerment. And because modern culture has exalted and rewarded male qualities, many girls have reached the conclusion that masculinity is superior to femininity. And the things that make women but to not be seen as passive, dependent or weak, God forbid. So rather than viewing children as gifts whose love, joy and enthusiasm can offer so much to society, our culture invades, you know, says that they’re invading us as parasites and a warning alarm for a lifetime of female imprisonment and misery. So, and, you know, this is a real book I bought. It’s called Nina Bear’s book years ago.

I don’t even know what year. But it was called Abortion Without Apology, a radical history for the 1990s. And it depicts this triumphant and victorious female dressed up as Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman was popular then. She’s got the whole Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman outfit on. And she’s yielding this abortion speculum, this, this large speculum. And the caption says it all.

As Wonder Woman explains with my speculum, I am strong. I can fight.

Oh my God. Another angry, another picture showed this like angry looking fetus strangling a mother with its umbilical cord. And abortion advocates view the fetus as the threatening enemy. The only way that we can, that society has learned to empower themselves is by gaining the right to kill the unborn, weak, dependent baby. True equality for women cannot exist until our reproductive, reproductive capacity is valued. And the children that we create are cherished by the men who father them. And violence against women will never end until society recognizes the benefits of fashioning life.

And true equality will never be a reality until the workplace and all educational institutions become hospitable and more accessible and supportive to mothers with children. And men and women must reclaim the life-giving and sacred nature of committed sexual love, not just using each other as for, for sex addiction, frankly. Sexual freedom is a manipulation counterfeit that threatens women and their children with violence, abandonment, and poverty. And justice for women cannot be built on the bloody foundation of our dead children. I feel so strongly about this. It’s so disordered and traumatic. Thank you for your thoughts on that question as well.

So, so who is Margaret Sanger and what is Planned Parenthood? Well, Margaret Sanger is the founder of Planned Parenthood. And she describes her views of human beings as fitting into one or two categories, the fit and the unfit. And though she deemed worthy of being allowed to reproduce as if to increase the quality of the human being, the human race, we want to get rid of all the unfit and just let the superior ones breed. So this is really a eugenicist policy. And it was popular in her time. And she started the Negro Project, which was trying to sterilize Negroes.

Well, it was called that then, but Blacks. And I actually met in the early days of my retreat work with Rachel’s Vineyard, I met women who were coming in to grieve their abortions. And the fact that when they were on the abortion table at age 16, they were also sterilized in the process, without even knowing it, in New York City hospitals. So this went on all over the place, targeting them. And we know that Planned Parenthood absolutely targets Black neighborhoods. They want to set up their clinics in Black neighborhoods so it’s accessible. And again, this is like a destruction of a race.

When we want to say that Black lives matter, Black lives in the womb should matter and should be safe as a first thing. And because so many have had it and haven’t healed, when we were starting Rachel’s Vineyard in Black communities, we realized that we couldn’t even get Black pastors to put an ad in their bulletins or their church newsletters or from the pulpit, wouldn’t speak of it because they all had unhealed. So some of our first retreats were bringing the pastors and their wives to healing so that they could stop the silence, which makes us not even able to talk about something so traumatic. And when you see it in line of generations of families through slavery being separated, fathers ripped away from their children, mothers and families torn apart, this is a traumatic reenactment to even embrace this ideology, this philosophy, this procedure as something that can be good for Black people after their years of trauma and the separation of the family. But again, history repeats itself when there isn’t healing. And anyway, that’s who Margaret Sanger was and Planned Parenthood continues her legacy unabashedly. And on another occasion, Margaret Sanger wrote these dehumanizing words about the Australian Indigenous people.

So it wasn’t just Black, it was just imbeciles, those with disabilities, like she thought anybody with a problem shouldn’t be here. And she said that the lower down in the scale of human development we go, the less sexual control we find. And it’s said that the Aboriginal Australian, the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzees in brain development, has so little sexual control that police authority alone prevents them from obtaining sexual satisfaction on the streets.

How about that? How about that? In light of parades where everybody wants to have sex on the street and be accepted, she was calling them the lowest known species of the human family. Wow. Yeah. It’s so weird. Yeah, definitely.

So among feminists, being a homemaker, wife, mother, caring for the home, has sometimes been called domestic slavery. Is this a fair-slash-valid description? Please explain. I think this relates to our previous discussion on the false dichotomy some brands of feminism wants to present to women. And this ideology seems to slander a whole segment of the population of women who embrace the vocation of being a primary caretaker of the children, their own children, by calling their loving dedication hard work slavery, equating it to the abusive, violent, denigrating institution of slavery. I don’t think there’s any comparison to this. Denigrate mothers.

And we can affirm the right of women to seek opportunities in society commensurate with their talents if they want to. And some women are beginning to see the cost of careers as exacting a way too high of a price in their family lives. And others have a more shared experience of caretaking with flexible roles among parents. I certainly had that. My husband, he stayed home for a while. I stayed home for a while. We took turns and whatever was needed at the time.

And whoever had the best work thing going on, I guess. But there are so many ways that women can live out their vocations in our communities. But we never can fail to affirm the value of women being a primary caretaker of the children. Affirm the value of women being a primary caretaker, or a manager of the home, or even an educator of their children. And again, these roles can be shared in various ways, depending on the situation. I love the idea of job sharing. And there’s so many creative ways that women could be in the workforce if systems would allow.

But it’s kind of sewed up to one thing, right? No kids around. So the next question I have is, is sex selective abortion legal in the U.S.? Please explain. Sure it is. I think they’re done by ultrasounds. And Congressman Chris Smith shared something kind of interesting a couple years back. But he said the promotion of sex selection abortion as a population control strategy was crafted in the United States by Planned Parenthood and the Population Council and others, in which they exported this worldwide.

And it’s resulted in millions of missing girls in India, China, and other countries. And in her book, A Natural Selection, choosing boys over girls, and the consequence of a world full of men, this woman, Eva Stahl, has written that there are over 160 million females missing from Asia’s population alone. Representative Chris Smith also, he chaired the House Foreign Affairs with Human Rights Committee hearing on India’s missing girls. And he said that’s more than the entire female population of the United States of America. So today, the three most dangerous words in India and China are, it’s a girl. So he noted that sex selective abortion and female infanticide have led to lopsided sex ratios. In parts of India, for example, 126 boys are born for every 100 girls.

And this in turn leads to a shortage of women, which then leads to trafficking persons, bride selling, and prostitution. And perhaps the best figures we have concerning the magnitude of the problem come from India’s 2011 census, which found out that there’s 37 million more men than women in India. So here in the U.S., liberal abortion laws that permit abortion in later-term pregnancies would allow parents to view ultrasound, know the sex, and abort the child if it’s female. And this is no doubt occurring in clinics across the country. Wow. Staggering. So some feminists have said that women need a fish.

I’m sorry, women need, let me start that over. So some feminists have said that women need men like a fish needs a bicycle. What do you say to that? What do I say to a feminist claim that women need men like a fish needs a bicycle? I do think, I do believe in the complementarity of men and women. I think that we both have gifts that we bring into the world and for the world.

And I disagree. And I wonder if they would say that when all these men are drafted in the war to fight for their freedom or their country, or police that are valiantly going to come and get violence off the streets or whatever, that’s men. Men have a lot of bravery. They’re on the front lines. They have a great strength. And that doesn’t mean there’s not women soldiers, but there’s the predominance of men who fought and died for our freedoms and in police work protecting us. They deserve our respect, not to be demeaned like this. Makes sense.

So we’re not honoring anybody by getting in. Oh, sorry. Go ahead and finish your thought. I’m done. Oh, okay. Has abortion choice policy been overall more helpful or harmful for women and families? I think it’s been harmful because it’s just hurt so many, it’s such a moral injury here.

And when the conscience is aborted, the truth gets distorted. And there’s been much speculation about, I talked about the reliving of the trauma. And I think that to relive an aspect of the trauma can at times feel empowering, especially if one eventually shares the opinion of their own perpetrator. And that might mean agreeing that the violence to your body and your spirit is what you wanted and what you actually need. As if to master the trauma by repeating it, while at the same time, convincing yourself that you’re in control of your body. And aggression also asserts that you must have control. It’s your choice.

It’s your legal human right. And since abortion was enshrined in law, no one could dare question this reckless sort of deceptive victory. So the reenactment now has become a necessity, a vital weapon that women feel they need for their protection. So yes, the right to kill has been entrenched in the psyche as a form of power and control. And instead of recognizing our equality and uniqueness of women, we’ve accepted the betrayal of our maternal instinct and the abandonment of the children we create as legitimate necessity. And is this assault on ourselves really the price we have to pay for any semblance of power or control of our bodies? I hope to think not.

And the message is not lost on all the kids who’ve grown up in a sanctioned abortion culture. It has created a deep insecurity of knowing that you only exist because your mom had a right to decide if she wanted you or not. And what happens to the human person if they dare to become unwanted or inconvenient? And what happens if they’re not pretty enough or popular enough or perfect enough, or are they’re bullied by friends or parents who forsake them? Indeed, this is a culture where sexual partners, mothers, fathers, marriages, and entire families are now disposable. And it makes sense that kids are drawn into gangs to belong somewhere, or they might become outcast loners, who can easily decide to become aggressors too. Deciding to kill anyone who they perceive is as a threat or standing in the way of something that they might want.

So consider all the angry and abandoned kids who may view society and their own lives as an undue burden, and young killers often seeking to be noticed on their way out as they make others pay. These are serious societal issues that are increasing every year, and abortion on demand has cost us plenty. And in a culture where millions have been aborted, generations of survivor children exhibit many of the existential conflicts suffered by those who survived accidents and even genocide. And that’s kind of this question of why am I alive when all of my siblings are dead? Such individuals have disturbing questions about whether they should be alive, whether they are worth anything to anybody, and whether they should develop their abilities. And research is bearing this out. Their human bonding is unstable and fractured.

Our society bears the mark of a wounded collective psyche, aborted, disconnected, unattached, and floundering to justify itself. And these were the generations since Roe that were ushered into history as the wanted ones, the chosen ones. And many children fear for their very lives, and they have tremendous anxiety and depression and everything else. I don’t have the statistics on me now, but the number of children on psychiatric medications. So, of course, Mother Teresa, she said that abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace. And so we must begin to work for peace. And it’s time to journey towards reconciliation.

The time has come for our nation to heal, the world to heal. I call it global mourning, actually. That’s what I see. And yet we’re so concerned about Mother Earth being hurt. And we’re destroying the planet when we’re destroying ourselves, our families. So the grief of abortion, we just got to deal with this and the generations and these communities that have already been oppressed, you know, having to live through abortion as well and other violence. So, no, I don’t think it’s helped anything.

It makes sense. In some other countries and cultures, women are often treated like property and second-class citizens, much worse than in the U.S. That can include legal domestic abuse, spousal rape, forced marriage, sex trafficking, female circumcision, and restricted access to education and opportunity. These are clear inequalities facing many women in the world. With that in mind, why do you think mainstream feminism in the West tends to focus on supporting an abortion choice more than anything else?

Well, it’s a great question. I know that they’re tying a lot of economic relief packages to countries with a lot of problems with abortion policies. So we’ll give you this aid as long as you start, you know, promoting abortion and sterilization and the pill and everything else. So as my colleague who I’ve worked with for many years at Priests for Life, along with Alveda King, she, in her global work with the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, she points out the real problems facing most women, especially in poorer nations, will not be solved by increasing abortion access. In fact, it’s terribly dangerous for them, especially with these pills because they could bleed to death and not have medical care. This is destructive and reflects a cultural imperialism by Western nations that promotes this, revealing a misunderstanding of the lived experience and the cultures and the communities where they’re pushing these abortion rights. And what they need is increased access to prenatal health, postnatal health care, education, and legal assistance when facing abuse or exploitation.

But this actually just encourages more of all that. And perhaps it’s the same reason that many Western nations are in the grip of these ideologies promoting like climate science that fuels, that feeds energy policies that hurt the poorest members of our society who are devastated by increased energy and food costs. And the climate ideologies benefit, they benefit these big corporate entities that are making lots of money off them. And it’s the poor who’s suffering. And it’s many times neither green nor cost-effective at all. We look at the car, you know, cars, how would anyone afford those cars? How would you repair those cars, the green cars, you know, when I’m not getting into a debate on fossil fuels or anything, but I’m saying that there’s so much money to be made in this.

And I do think that it keeps a country down to not allow it to birth future citizens, to destroy the value and the dignity of the family and the cohesiveness that a family creates in the culture. It just promotes civil war, you know, anger, rage, and violence.

Those are good points. Perhaps the most famous abortion choice argument is summed up as my body, my choice. What does that mean? And how do you respond to that argument? Oh, yeah, that and all these other arguments. I think that it’s very much in contrast to any Christian ideology. Of course, Jesus said, this is my body given for you.

So when I hear my body, my choice, I think of somebody wanting to rule over not only one’s body, but everyone’s body. Wanting to have the power of God to decide who lives and who dies. That I am a God and I think that’s where I could, that my opinion is sacred. My opinion cannot be challenged. It leads to that kind of a mentality. It began as a slogan for choice, but it’s being used by everyone now as all sorts of victim groups keep rising and now they want the right to mutilate their own bodies and have these surgeries, the right to be accepted and feel safe. Again, that issue of safety.

I don’t feel safe because you have trauma, right? And you feel that in our body. It’s a felt sense of not feeling safe.

So, I don’t know. We see this theme of threat. Without the right to abortion, they feel panic that their bodies are in danger. And notice here, it’s not the babies in the womb who are not safe, but it’s the mothers who feel threatened. And if we deny the pain and sometimes the horror of what it means to endure the trauma of abortion, we can also deny what actually happened inside the body. Instead of healing, our hearts harden and one can also negate what we actually need in order to feel safe and loved. I’d like to share something here.

This is really important to me. I think it fits here nicely too. That 60 to 65 percent, we did studies on this, of the women coming into Rachel’s Vineyard had histories of sexual abuse and more broadly across the culture, 55% of girls and 35% of boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. These are really high statistics. And a lot of, there’s more that’s underreported. We all know that. But this, women with a history of abuse can be particularly vulnerable to coerced abortion.

And one of my patients, Susan, I’m going to share, I’m actually going to read something that she shared with me. She was an incest victim who also had several abortions and she shares her thoughts on the connection between abortion and a history of abuse. And I’ve written extensively about this in my book, Forbidden Grief, and certainly part of my motivation to develop Grief to Grace was so that there would be another level of healing for the abuse that women suffered before that made them vulnerable to abortion. So she, Susan says, I came to see that my most deeply held belief was that there was not one single thing that I had that they could not take away. And the more precious, the more essential to my being that it was, all that much more they would defile it. And that’s an awful realization. Whether beloved is a stuffed bunny or the infinitely fragile core of one’s physical and emotional being or the baby that one hopes to love.

It comes as a shock to find out as an adult that you’ve been in pain all of your life and that far from not feeling anything about the baby you got rid of, your grieving for it has drenched your life. Another victim of sexual abuse, one of my clients, she said, nothing that happened to my body mattered. As an incest victim, I had absolutely no volition regarding the integrity of my body. Somebody wanted it and they took it no matter what I wanted. And in the case of my abortion, I had no understanding regarding the integrity of my body and spirit. It had misbehaved and it had to be corrected without any thought for how much the act would hurt me. But who could think that a new life nurtured inside the body as one flesh could be severed from that body and ended without causing lifelong grief and yearning.

Only a woman who had no idea that her body or the spirit that infuses it or the sexuality that permeates it were connected or mattered a damn. I was not alone. The common experience of the women in Rachel’s Vineyard was the shock of the devastating feelings surrounding this act that was supposed to have no significance. As if our bodies and what they create have no significance as if we have no significance. Our experiences were all similar and I think it’s because there’s a common value underlying incest and abortion and rape and promiscuity and our historic perception of sexuality. It’s an incredible callousness towards our bodies and others’ bodies. I think these are powerful statements and so many stories if your listeners are interested about the link between abortion and sexual abuse and how it’s felt.

The real experiences of women. This does nothing other than re-traumatize women again and again. Wow, that’s really powerful. It’s been said that women cannot be ethically required to lend their body for someone else’s use even if that individual needs their body to live. This they claim is true whether it’s lending a womb to grow a fetus or lending a kidney to a famous violinist. How do you respond to this argument? I don’t think I respond to this.

I just think it’s a ridiculous argument and we wouldn’t extend this to one’s household and the choice to deny giving nutrition to a dependent child, an elderly relative, kick them out of the house and deny them care and comfort. Again, these are just false dichotomies that promote division and contention of what should be the most natural complementary and life-giving relationships. The foundations of our families and our communities. This is not liberation. It’s not freedom and it’s not choice. It just feels like not taking responsibility for anything but your own pleasure. Makes sense.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest misconception that women tend to believe about abortion? I think it’s the thought that this is an answer or a solution. This is a huge deception and the intensity of the focus on abortion rights keeps women and men from adjusting the real social issues which should be changed. And why should women drop off the planet when they have a baby? Why should they apologize to their employers for the inconvenience their swelling bodies cause? Women show their strength by the very act of bringing life into the world and yet we’ve accepted this betrayal of our bodies as a legitimate necessity. And I don’t know.

I just think so many of our sisters have suffered in the aftermath of abortion. It’s really important to accept their experiences with tolerance and sympathy. And they have something really compelling to teach us about female oppression and discrimination in a society that rejects women and the children of their wombs. And about a planet where we’re forced to be flattened in the name of our freedom. About a tyranny that violates female instinct, femininity, and our unique role in procreation. So I just I can only wonder like and I think that it probably will but the future will probably hold more abortions and the carving out of our insides and the cutting away at feminine souls and the suctioning of our hearts. And there’ll be more discrimination, violence, self-destruction, despair, and hopelessness.

And more castrations of our maternity like ancient tribal mutilations, which now they’re promulgating. It used to be horrible. People used to raise money to stop this from happening in Africa. And now we want to have any boy or girl who’s old enough, not even old enough, just to submit because someone tells them what they are. So what’s the answer for a world facing all this hostility and violence? If abortion isn’t the easiest, healthiest solution, what is? Is it more birth control pills, condoms, and chemical sterilizations?

I just don’t think so because there’s no love or respect in such relationships. And I think that this might sound corny and trite, but love is the answer. A subject that families raising the next generation must respond to with compassion. And there’s a philosopher, Karl Jaspers. He noted that you’re not free unless you are bound. He has this little analogy. I kind of like it a lot.

It’s a tree is obviously not free to be itself if it’s uprooted from the soil, shielded from the sun, and shorn of all its leaves and deprived of all nourishment. To be a tree, it must be bound to what feeds and sustains it. You got to be rooted in the ground, rooted in your family, rooted in your little tribe. And so the contemporary problem of all this mental illness and loneliness and isolation is related to adults choosing to seek freedom by disconnecting from committed relationships. We’ve chosen to separate the act of sex from the passion that drives it. And we’ve truncated the relationship with our children, thereby rejecting a part of ourselves. This leads to the hatred.

We eventually realize the dissolution of the relationship leads to oppression and grief. Bonding infused with love can offer the most expansive freedom. And a woman who bonds with her child should not fear that she’s compromising her own individual identity. In fact, a deeper manifestation of her personality emerges when it’s embraced with her child whose own identity will be rooted in a reflection of her own image and her own love. So grieving is the pathway. And Elizabeth Cady Stanton observed a century ago. She said, there must be a remedy for such a crying evil as this.

But where shall it be found, at least where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women? I love that prophetic claim because it still hasn’t happened. We’re not elevated in an abortion culture at all as women.

Oh, that’s good. Well, thank you so much, Teresa, for going through these questions on feminism and abortion. I really appreciate your time. So yeah, thank you so much for being on here.