Project Rachel Spends 25 Years Helping Women Face Problems After Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 18, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Project Rachel Spends 25 Years Helping Women Face Problems After Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 18
, 2009

Milwaukee, WI ( — Project Rachel, the organization that has helped thousands of women rebuild their lives following the problems and pain of an abortion, is marking 25 years of ministry. The anniversary is a bittersweet moment because the need for such a group only arises out of death, pain and heartache.

Vicki Thorn founded the ministry, which started as a project out of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and she has seen the physical and emotional scars of an abortion in the bodies and hearts of countless women.

She told the Catholic News Service the anniversary has been "an awesome experience of looking back and seeing how an idea that was really only Spirit-inspired changed the face of the abortion debate in the U.S., and, not only in the U.S., but also in other countries."

Thorn had personal experience watching women go thorough agony after an abortion when her close friend in high school suffered through addiction, eating disorders and self-destructive actions after her abortion.

She went to school to study psychology and noted how her courses did not specifically prepare her for how to help women facing an abortion decision.

Thorn told CNS that she saw the Catholic Church as an ideal place to form the ministry.

"That from what I saw of my friend, it was both a spiritual and a human wound that needed to be addressed, and as a church, with sacraments and the people who populate the church, we can take care of this," she said.

"So that was my understanding, but then you had to find people who knew enough to be able to train priests, train mental health professionals, figure out how we’re going to deal with people in terms of how are they going to find us, the phone calls and things like that," she added.

Thorn emphasizes that women who have an abortion go through a normal grieving process and spurns the idea that there is something wrong with them.

"This is a woman who lost her child in a traumatic and unnatural fashion. She’s grieving, hello! I mean, that’s normal," Thorn said.

"And the process is one of helping her to process the anger toward the other people involved, to move to forgiveness, to be reconciled then with God, with her baby and with herself and forgive herself in that, that’s it," Thorn told CNS. "That’s not high-tech psychotherapy, you know, that’s spiritual healing and it works."

Since the founding of Project Rachel, post-abortion research has come a long way and people wanting to help women know much more than they did then.

Thorn and her colleagues better understand the mental health problems women face — ranging from suicide, addictions and problems in relationships — than they did. Those tools better prepare them to meet women at the point of their need.

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