The Church should be a place of healing and comfort for women who have had abortions

Written by Melanie Beerda

It was a warm summer evening when I pulled my car into the park to meet a new friend. Birds fluttered through the twilight as the sun faded to an orange glow on the horizon. I watched as headlights eased into the parking lot, claiming a spot next to my car. I fumbled awkwardly with my tea thermos, a familiar twinge in my gut reminding me how hard it is to make friends.

We spent a few hours sitting on a park bench talking about our lives. I told her about my adoption story, how my mother bravely chose to have me, and despite all that, how for many years I struggled with my identity around the adoption. She received my words and honoured them. Then I ignorantly commented how I couldn’t imagine anyone ever choosing abortion. To which her response came like a bag of bricks to my ego: “I had an abortion.”

That twinge in my gut came back full force. I held my breath for a moment, uncertain if this would turn into a heated battle of Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice. I wasn’t prepared for this moment of accountability for my beliefs and the language I used to express them.

But my new friend did not become offended. Instead, she shared her story. I am so thankful for her willingness to tell me her own experience without knowing how I would receive her vulnerability. She graciously entered into the conversation. In that moment God taught me a valuable lesson; I am a mere human unaware of the details that hide beneath the surface.

Within the Christian culture, we often talk about abortion as something that happens outside of the Church. But the reality is that abortion is happening within the Church too. We just hear less about it—likely because many women fear they will be judged if they speak up.

According to a 2022 Angus Reid survey, 41 per cent of women know someone who has had an abortion, while one in six women have had one. The study notes that “An almost equal sized group of women (15%) report carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.” This almost certainly means that most churches include women who have had an abortion or experienced the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy.

Women who have had abortions sit in the pews, listening to the condemning language used to describe them and their abortions. They silently carry the weight of their decisions without hope of opening up to the body of Christ, for fear of being judged and rejected based on how they hear other Christians talking about it. Some may try to shove their abortion story into an invisible pit within themselves, desperately trying to ignore the cries from within.

The reality is that none of us are free from sin. We are corrupted by our sinful nature. But thankfully, God doesn’t have favourites. Christ went to the cross to bear all our evil for us.  People who go to church come from all walks of life, there is no cookie cutter path. Jesus said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32, ESV). The church is a hospital for sinners, a place where we should be able to share the darkness that threatens to consume us. Women who become pregnant should feel safer running to the church than to an abortion clinic.

The church is a hospital for sinners, a place where we should be able to share the darkness that threatens to consume us.

Scripture says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV). When we struggle with something, how others speak about that struggle tells us whether they are safe to talk to. If someone comes to you to open up about her abortion, or potential plans for one; thank her for her willingness to be vulnerable. It is a great honour to be considered a safe person to share such a difficult and personal story with. Pray for her and commit to helping her on the path to find healing and wholeness in Christ.

This doesn’t mean you agree with abortion. You can honour her willingness to be vulnerable; you might share your views—if she wants your perspective. Either way, she deserves to know she has a seat in the church and that Christ died so that she could have that healing. We cannot change what has been done in the past. But we can surely help people find freedom in the life-giving love of a God who swaddles unborn children in the heavenly realm and weeps over the wounds left in the wombs of mothers.

Melanie Beerda is a writer and speaker located on the West Coast of Canada. She is the founder of Rekindled Faith Ministries.

Photo by Meghan Holmes.