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Men and the Abortion Aftermath

8/30/2007 - 5:40 AM PST

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Interview With Kevin Burke of Rachelís Vineyard


KING of PRUSSIA, Pennsylvania, AUG. 30, 2007 (Zenit) - One man's sharing gives other men permission to examine their own role in abortion and the impact it has had on their lives, said counselor Kevin Burke.

Burke, the associate director of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries, and pastoral associate at Priests For Life, has co-edited a new book, "Redeeming a Father's Heart," along with David Wemhoff and Marvin Stockwell, about healing the wounds of post-abortive men.

In this interview with us, Burke discusses the type of wounds men experience when they have been involved in an abortion, avenues for healing, and how to help the women they love also find healing after an abortion.

Q: Your new book, "Redeeming a Father's Heart," addresses the suffering men experience from abortion. Why do you think this issue has gotten so little attention until now?

Burke: We have all heard the exhausted phrase repeated over the years that "abortion is a private personal decision between a woman, her health care provider and her God."

Men were seen to be peripheral figures in the process, detached and unaffected by the woman's "choice."

The reality is that men are involved in 95% of all abortion decisions, and they are profoundly impacted by their participation in the abortion of their child.

In our work as counseling professionals, my wife Theresa and I have worked with many individuals and couples who came to us for healing after abortion.

In the last eight years we have seen a steady increase in men who attended our Rachel's Vineyard Retreats seeking healing.

Many came with their wives or after their partner had attended. As they shared their experiences of abortion we quickly recognized the devastating impact it had on their lives.

Similar to women, when men experience deep healing of post abortion pain, they are freed from the shame and guilt that feeds silence and isolation.

There is a willingness to share their experience with others because they finally recognize that their feelings are normal, they are not alone.

Abortion hurts, and it impacts relationships in the home and workplace.

When one man shares his experience with close friends and family, it gives other men permission to examine their own role in abortion and the impact it has had on their lives and come forward to find healing.

Q: Aside from the absence of the physical suffering caused by the actual abortion, how does the psychological pain and healing process in post-abortive men differ from the experience of women?

Burke: The majority of men encourage, manipulate and even force their girlfriends, partners or wives to abort.

Many other men physically and/or emotionally abandon the mother of their child when they learn she is pregnant.

She is left alone to carry the full burden of the decision and the physical and emotional aftermath of the abortion.

Often the man may rationalize that abortion is in the best interest of the mother and deny her post-abortion grief.

An important part of healing for many men begins with an agonizing repentance of their role in the abortion procedure and the failure to protect mother and baby from harm.

This act of humility opens the door for them to acknowledge that they have also lost a son or a daughter.

This recognition gives them permission to examine how this loss has impacted their lives, how it has injured their father's heart, and encourages them to reach out for reconciliation with God and their child on the journey to healing, peace and restoration in Christ.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those men who have an instinctive desire to prevent the mother of their child from having an abortion. They do everything they can to offer support to care for both mother and baby.

If they are powerless to prevent the death of their son or daughter, they typically experience serious depression, rage and grief following an unwanted abortion that can be turned inward in self destruction or acted out in numerous unhealthy ways including the abuse of drugs/alcohol/gambling addictions, anger management issues, pornography, etc.

Such men need immediate counseling and an effective emotional and spiritual healing process like the Rachel's Vineyard Retreat.

Keep in mind that men who participate in and support the abortion decision will also experience post abortion symptoms such as shame, guilt, complicated grief, anxiety, depression and relational problems.

Other men suffer from sexual dysfunctions, addictions to pornography and related problems.

The place of the wound is typically where symptoms emerge -- and those symptoms then are likely to occur in future relational ...

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