Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
September 26, 2005
Respect life in the name of Rachel
Healing ministry mends hearts broken by abortion
Light One Candle
Respect Life Sunday (taking place this year on Oct. 2) unites many different people and many different organizations under the pro-life banner. Some come with a specific focus, others with a wide lens; but all are joined together to proclaim support for life - from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.
One that has worked quietly but effectively is Project Rachel, an international healing ministry to those who have been involved in abortion. It was founded by Victoria Thorn of Milwaukee and centres on women undergoing the emotional pain that typically follows abortion, helping them heal through counselling, support groups and retreats.
Project Rachel gets its name from a scriptural passage in Jeremiah (31:15-17): "In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping! Rachel mourns her children; she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more. "Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of mourning; wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward. . . . There is hope for your future."
Rachel was the often unhappy wife of Jacob, who after years of childlessness bore him two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. In his own tumultuous times, Jeremiah invoked her memory to suggest a return from exile and the act of conversion to God.
The parallel between Rachel and a contemporary woman trying to recover from the anguish of an abortion is obvious: the mourning is understandable, but God's love and mercy bring hope and forgiveness to all who seek it.
Victoria Thorn founded Project Rachel in 1984, after several years of involvement in a number of pro-life activities - including time as a counsellor for Birthright, the nonprofit pregnancy crisis centre. It was even earlier, while she was still in college, that she first encountered the problem with which she later became so familiar.
A close friend who had undergone an abortion became depressed and abusive.
"I tried to help," she said, "but never knew how to reach her."
Thorn was hardly alone. At the time, not many really understood the negative impact of abortion on women. That became evident as the number of abortions grew after the Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973, and more and more women suffered from abortion's aftermath. Symptoms ranged from mild depression to the more serious, including addictions and thoughts of suicide.
Now Thorn travels all over the country to speak about Project Rachel (officially a part of the pro-life efforts of 140 Catholic dioceses in the U.S.) and about abortion in general.
In an interview, she said today's young people - of the so-called Generation X - must deal with widespread divorce, increased mobility, the breakdown of the family and the stress of working mothers.
That in turn has led the young to seek intimacy through sexual relationships long before they're ready, without adequate models of happy marriage as a guide - and, also in turn, to the tragedy of abortion.
All of us who believe in life and who pray for the day when abortion is no more should be thankful for those who share our ideals and who work every day with that common goal in mind. Project Rachel is high on that list.
To reach the local branch of Project Rachel, call 424-4538.
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