Making Abortion Unthinkable

Originally written by Sydna Masse at Ramah's Voice.

“How could I have walked into that place and allowed them to take my child?” the caller asked. “I had no clue an abortion would feel like this afterwards!”

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Few understand the potential emotional, spiritual, psychological or physical impact when choosing abortion. I was no different when I walked into an abortion clinic as a teenager in an unexpected pregnancy. Abortion was sold to me as a way to “erase” the evidence of my lost virginity. Sounds easy, right? Wrong!

When I discovered that pregnancy centers existed in 1991 to help provide individuals with another choice besides abortion, I was overjoyed.  It was quickly obvious to my heart that had I walked into a pregnancy center for a pregnancy test, the child I aborted would likely still be alive. Over the years, it has been my extreme honor to help these unique non-profits in any way possible!

While a pregnancy center did not exist in my community when I was first pregnant, a local center offered abortion recovery services to help me discover God’s amazing healing eleven years later. Then I began my full-time work – from managing Focus on the Family’s ministry to pregnancy centers to founding and operating Ramah International.

America’s pregnancy centers have thankfully made a dramatic difference in the abortion issue. These primarily faith-based non-profit pregnancy centers offer 3-4 levels of complimentary services to their communities:

  1. Prevention – Abstinence education and support,

  2. Intervention – Medical quality pregnancy testing combined with abortion education (outlining procedures and their risks), parenting programs as well as material and emotional support for those facing an unexpected pregnancy,

  3. Reconciliation – Assisting post-abortive individuals in discovering God’s peace at an emotional and spiritual level,

  4. Medical – Offering ultrasounds, limited pre-natal services as well as STI/STD testing.

In Ramah International’s first ministry year back in 1997, the Alan Guttmacher Institute published a report entitled, Facts in Brief: Induced Abortion, which outlined, “At current rates 43% of all American women will experience abortion at least once before 45 years of age.”

Astounded by that broad statistic, God began to place the vision for Ramah International on my heart. The world clearly needed a focused support system for training, promoting and managing abortion reconciliation ministries within pregnancy centers and church settings.

Using the 43% American post-abortion rate, Ramah International began focused training of pregnancy centers in outlining the emotional and spiritual impact of abortion to their ministry contacts. Our goal was to make abortion an unthinkable option due to the potential for regret, grief and pain. It began by asking a simple question – if nearly half of all American women have experienced abortion, why is it that you rarely hear anyone talking publicly about this choice?

The overall silence of post-abortive people spoke volumes to those considering abortion. As expected, many discarded abortion after receiving more practical and unbiased information from their pregnancy center. With the physical and emotional support through their pregnancies, pregnancy center clients had a much better choice than abortion.

As the years passed, the Alan Guttmacher Institute revamped their post-abortion statistics down from 43% to 33%. They also outlined that as many as 44% will chose to abort multiple times. Because post-abortive people are nearly impossible to survey, it is difficult to outline trends in how abortion impacts the heart. That does not mean that this silent agony has not influenced our nation deeply.

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new report stating that the abortion rate in 2013 was half the rate recorded in 1980. The last time the CDC recorded a lower rate was in 1971, which was two years before the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion was passed.

Think about that statistic. The number and rate of abortions tallied by federal authorities have fallen to their lowest level in decades.  The abortion rate for 2013 was half the rate recorded in 1980. The CDC tallied 664,435 abortions in 2013, discovering that the abortion rate was down 20 percent from 2004.

This CDC report verifies that abortion is a concept that 20% of America’s younger generation are choosing to avoid than just 12 years ago. Many are openly embracing secondary virginity or simply choosing to remain sexually pure until marriage.

Abortion advocates may claim this lowering abortion rate as the result of their contraceptive services. But teenagers haven’t changed much over the years when it comes to using birth control.  While other factors are involved, the lowering rate has been impacted by pregnancy centers being used by God to change our nation’s understanding of abortion’s impact one life at a time.

You may never know when you may need the services of your local pregnancy center. I encourage you to discover your local pregnancy center today to learn the many ways they are making a difference in your community. Please thank them for their service in reducing the abortion rate in our nation.

AWPC Supporter Featured in The Detroit News

Former professional athlete Kurt David was recently featured in a column by Bankole Thompson at The Detroit News - his generous support of many local charities, including Another Way Pregnancy Center, was mentioned! Kurt did a great job emphasizing the responsibility of the community to come together to create social change:

"Social transformation should not be driven, or relied upon, from our government but primarily driven as part of our communities, churches and corporate enterprise," David said. "There has been a shift in corporate giving and 'cause' marketing appears to help with this shift. Support of the organizations, churches and companies that support charities engaged in social change is imperative in continuing the needed support."

You can read The Detroit News' full article here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Farmington Community Comes Together for Winter Diaper Drive

A community diaper drive benefiting families involved in the parenting education program at Another Way Pregnancy Center (AWPC) of Farmington Hills will take place now through Dec. 21. The most needed diaper sizes are newborn and 4-6 and will be accepted at the following locations:

Slava Royzenblat, owner of 9Round Kickboxing, initially approached AWPC with the idea for a diaper drive and AWPC’s team of volunteers took it further by contacting area businesses and organizations to see if there were others interested in getting involved.

“Diapers are a necessity for every child, but not always accessible due to finances,” AWPC Client Services Director Alyssa Burkett said. “Our hope is that this diaper drive not only fills this immediate need, but makes it available for several months afterward.”

Other businesses and organizations can become involved as drop-off locations by calling AWPC’s administrative office at (248) 939-5900.

About Another Way Pregnancy Center: AWPC was incorporated in 1984 as a non-profit organization to provide emotional and practical assistance to both women and men facing unplanned or untimely pregnancies in Southeast Michigan. In the past year alone, over 400 people have come to AWPC for free and confidential services, including pregnancy confirmation through pregnancy tests and limited obstetric ultrasounds, a parenting education & material aid program, and its various support groups and skills training programs.

8 Strategies to Tame Triggers After Abortion Pain

by Sydna Masse, Founder of Ramah International | Originally published at Ramah's Voice

“It’s my baby’s due date next week, Sydna,” the writer outlined. “How do I cope with this reminder each and every year for the rest of my life?”

Triggers of Abortion PTSD often arrive unexpectedly, activating a deep and forgotten pain. Since many post-abortive people work to forget this choice, the spark of these triggers can send them into a whirlwind of emotional anxiety.

My first after abortion trigger came 7 months after my abortion – on my child’s due date. I never connected the horrendous evening I spent locked in a dorm room crying as the night I should have been giving birth to my child. I thought I was losing my mind as there was no obvious reason for such an intense emotional reaction.

The next morning my eyes were swollen shut from crying. I went to the campus health center in a deeply demoralized state and discovered I had pink eye. It was clear that my poignant pain was not related to that infection. For many months I felt like I was on the verge of insanity.

When I read about Abortion PTSD eleven years later, I was relieved to discover the reason for my emotional angst. I could look back on the last eleven years of agony surrounding the third week in March when my child should have been celebrating a birthday. Embracing an abortion recovery program brought God’s peace back into my soul.

Once I realized this date was a trigger to my pain, I was able to tame that trigger and plan ways to cope. Here are eight methods to offset obvious triggers of Abortion PTSD:

  1. Document your trigger dates on a calendar – If you have had more than one abortion, or don’t remember exact dates, don’t worry. Record dates when you felt depression or experienced pain that seemed to have no source.
  2. Develop distraction strategies – Sitting in a dentist’s office, overhearing the drilling sound, can transport me back to that abortion clinic where I hear the sound of the machine that sucked my child out of my body. Realizing that truth, I now arrive at these appointments with a headset to listen to worship music to offset any triggering noises.
  3. Participate in positive life-affirming activities – Writing a tax-deductible donation check and/or helping out at a pregnancy center can aid your tender heart. Encouraging those continuing an unexpected pregnancy with thoughtful gifts or lunch or aiding a life affirming effort can also be beneficial.
  4. Sooth your heart with Scripture – The Bible is filled with redemptive stories of sinners that help us to understand God’s forgiving nature. David’s unexpected pregnancy with Bathsheba, found in 2 Samuel 11-12:25, outlines we are not alone in the taking of an innocent life. David walked with God at that time he had Bathsheba’s husband murdered. God sent Nathan to help show David his sin. After David repented, God gave him another son – Solomon – who would succeed him as King of Israel.
  5. Control your anger – Becoming irritable upon hearing individuals promote abortion as a “safe and legal” can trigger Abortion PTSD rage quickly. While the abortion outrage can appear like “righteous indignation,” we can certainly sin in our responses. Deep seated anger can result as our abortion wound erupts. Remember to emanate Godly behavior, as outlined in Psalm 86:15But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
  6. Writing out your story – Recording the story of your life can help you realize what made you susceptible to an unexpected pregnancy and abortion. That can provide perspective that God can use in the healing process. Begin with the story of your family and include a full account of what led you to lose your virginity in the first place. Then document the dates of deep pain. The Ramah team would be happy to help you with this process.
  7. Pray to seek God’s help directly – The Creator of the Universe offers the best comfort. Seek Him with an open heart and a sincere, “Help me, God” prayer. Acts 17:27-28 outlines, God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’
  8. Discover Supportive Friends – Ramah International exists to help connect abortion’s wounded heart to their local pregnancy center for direct ministry. If you haven’t completed an abortion recovery program, please prayerfully consider one.

Understand that many emotions can become stronger when they are ignored. Ramah International is a safe and confidential ministry that can help you begin to process this pain and find local support. Please feel free to contact us if we can help in any way.  Please share this blog to help others struggling with Abortion PTSD.

Why Women In Need MUST Find Real Options Counseling First

by Jennifer Bedford, AWPC Receptionist

A co-worker came into the office with a question about Planned Parenthood that I could not answer: Did Planned Parenthood offer ultrasounds – and if so, at what cost? Rumor was Planned Parenthood charged $45 for an ultrasound.

After a failed attempt to find the answer online, I decided to call Planned Parenthood and ask the question directly. Besides, I really wanted to know what would happen if one of our clients at AWPC were to call Planned Parenthood. What would they be told?

I prepared myself to make the call. I imagined one of our clients walking into this center, unsure & scared. My heart grew in tenderness as I tried to find that woman inside me.  What are the questions she would ask? What would she be thinking? The following is a summarization of my call to Planned Parenthood in Livonia:

A woman named Cindy* answered the phone. She never outright asked if I was pregnant, but I explained that I was unsure of what I wanted to do.  I asked what services they could offer me if I made an appointment. 

“I’m sorry...could you please just tell me what you offer?”  I asked softly. “This whole thing is just overwhelming…”  

The first 5 minutes of the call were a blur of medical terms, procedures, and timetables.  At this stage in my life, I am very familiar with women’s reproductive health and even my head was spinning at this point of the call.  I struggled to imagine how a person with little to no medical background would be able to keep up with her.

“First, you’ll come in and take a blood test where we will test your HCG levels. You are eligible for medical if you’re between 5 weeks and 9 weeks, and you can ‘pass it’ at home until 9 weeks,”  I tried my best to listen as one word continued to slur into the next. “...after you’ll come back for more bloodwork to ensure your HCG levels went down. If you need a surgical procedure we will perform ultrasound before the procedure and we will schedule for you to meet with a...”  (Wait, wait! That was my word! Ultrasound!) 

“Ummm….excuse me?  How much would the ultrasound cost?”   

“$545. The ultrasound is included in the pricing of the procedure.” 

“Oh, I heard from someone you charged $45 for ultrasounds…” 

“No, we don’t schedule ultrasounds separately. It’s billed as part of the procedure. The ultrasound will help us determine gestational age, and then you would meet with a counselor and then there’s a 24-hour wait period and…”

“Um, excuse me...”  I quietly interrupted.  “So I can meet with someone to talk about this?  Again, this whole thing is really overwhelming and I’m just...will this be the person I can talk to?” 

“Yes, you’ll meet with the counselor and then there will be a 24-hour waiting period before the procedure.”  

“...but what if I change my mind?” 

“You can change your mind at any point during the process.  You can stop, and we will bill you for the work that’s been done up to that point.”    

“Ok, so at that point...how much would I owe?”
 
“The process is $545.00.”  

“No, I’m sorry, if I change my mind after meeting with the counselor...I will have had bloodwork and an ultrasound completed, right?  How much would that be?”

“We don’t give pricing for part of a procedure.”    

“Ummm...okay.  I’m sorry, but I’m really confused.  I’m really scared about this.  You said I could speak to someone...but I don’t get to speak to the counselor until after the bloodwork and the ultrasound, but you won’t tell me how much the bloodwork and the ultrasound will cost?”

“That’s right.  We don’t give pricing for part of a procedure.”  Then it came out… “We won’t even schedule you unless you’re sure you want the procedure done.  There’s a high demand for these appointments, so unless you’re sure...we won’t schedule you.”  
 

So that state-mandated counseling you’re supposed to receive in addition to a 24-hour waiting period?  It doesn’t come until you’re already locked in and paying out of pocket.  Paying how much out of pocket? Who knows?! They won’t tell you.  

AWPC staff consulted Right to Life of Michigan Legislative Director Ed Rivet, who confirmed abortion providers are not supposed to collect payment until after the 24-hour waiting period - and that they often avoid performing ultrasounds until after the waiting period to keep the cost combined with the abortion procedure so a woman will be unable to see the ultrasound until she’s paid the fee.

At no point in Cindy’s initial spiel did she talk about or offer up meeting with someone to discuss my options before the procedure.  I had to dig for options counseling myself.  In fact, I called 3 times and received different information depending on who I talked to.

The first two calls were made to the Livonia Planned Parenthood, where I got the impression from Cindy that their “options counseling” consisted of merely coming in and picking up some informational brochures and packets.  It wasn’t until my third call to a number on Planned Parenthood’s website listed under Options Counseling that I was directed to a call center where they actually offered to set up an appointment for me when I told them I didn’t know what to do.  

Granted, it’s possible if I pushed further, the Livonia center would have scheduled me for an appointment to meet and talk with a real options counselor, but should it be so hard to get to that point?  It became glaringly obvious to me during this process that making sure women are well-informed about their options and about the procedure is not a priority to Planned Parenthood.  

We know that women get abortions every day who wish to remain uninformed and don’t want to know anything about it.  But women calling Planned Parenthood are not even given an opportunity to access information they need to make an informed decision until they are a paying customer. With the emphasis on “no appointment unless you’re sure," we have to question what kind of "counseling" these women receive.

Disclaimer: Jennifer made the calls out of her own curiosity and concern for women having real options concerning pregnancy.  She agreed to write the story only after our urging her to do so. The purpose of sharing this story with you is simply to demonstrate how important our services are for women who really don’t know what to do regarding an unintended pregnancy.

The story accurately reflects one caller’s experience with one Planned Parenthood facility and one 800 phone line. No other calls were made beyond those reported here. 

*Name has been changed.