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Monday, July 17, 2006

Grieving Over Contraception and Sterilization

Here is a great article from Zenit regarding the emotional effects of contraception:
Grieving Over Contraception and Sterilization
Interview With Theresa Burke of Rachel's Vineyard

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pennsylvania, JULY 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Debates over the use of the "morning-after" pill have often focused on the physical health of women.

Less discussed is the mental, emotional and spiritual health of women who use the drug, which can cause early abortions.

One specialist who does deal with the problem is psychologist Theresa Burke, the founder of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries. She reports that many women suffer pain and regret from use of contraception and sterilization in her book "The Contraception of Grief: The Genesis of Anguish Conceived by Abortifacients and Sterilization" (published by Priests for Life).

Burke shared with ZENIT some hidden effects of contraception and sterilization.

Q: What compelled you to write about grief associated with the use of abortifacients and sterilization? When did this trend first come to your attention?

Burke: For the past 20 years, I have been involved in the study and treatment of pregnancy loss and unresolved grief.

I never expected the subject of contraception linked to deep and hidden emotional pain to repeatedly surface during our weekends for healing after abortion.

Indeed, many abortions were associated with a failure in contraception. Any woman who leaves an abortion clinic is released with an arsenal of birth control pills. The behavior that led to the pregnancy is never addressed, but she is armed with the resources to prevent another pregnancy … or so she thinks.

Besides these obvious reasons for grief, I was rather astounded that a growing number of women, including non-Catholics, were coming forward to say that they were also experiencing profound feelings of grief and loss because of contraceptive use which resulted in spontaneous abortions.

The subject was also being brought up by those who came to assist on our retreats, and had a moment of powerful spiritual revelation regarding a deep and unnamed grief they held buried within their soul.

I have encountered this unique grief on many different occasions. I'd have to say that among the many hidden sources of shame and grief in the Church today, perhaps none go as unnoticed, unmentioned and ignored as the emotional pain from the use of contraception.

Subsequently, when the realization dawns that a child, or several children, have been lost through various methods of birth control, there can be serious emotional consequences.

Initially, my focus was only abortion, not contraception. However, I saw our role as helping women face and grieve the reality hidden in their hearts. If their soul was in pain, who was I to say that it was not real?

I gave them permission to speak the truth that was hidden and to grieve the pain that was surfacing. I also witnessed the liberation and freedom, the openness to life, the joy and vitality that followed that experience.

Janet Morana, the associate director of Priests for Life, also encouraged me to write about this.

Janet felt that the pain she suffered from contraception was profound and she knew there were many others who also shared in this grief. She felt that few in society recognized or validated this hurt and that like abortion, pregnancy loss from contraception, is also a forbidden grief.

When Rachel's Vineyard became a ministry of Priests for Life, it was one of the first new issues I began to investigate.

Q: Briefly, how do some forms of birth control act as abortifacients? Why do so few people know about these facts?

Read more...

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