I Asked Planned Parenthood a Question About Post-Abortive Healing. The Response Was Telling.

The author, herself a post-abortive woman, says, "Now more than ever, it is so important to respond to hate with love, and to speak up where the truth is being snuffed out."

By Chelsea Brown Published on May 1, 2019

I’m a post-abortive woman. I know how hard it is to toe the line between regret and repentance for abortion, and compassion and wisdom for those who have had abortions, too.

Abortion is sold to women as a quick fix. It will free them of the burdens that motherhood would potentially impose on them. The truth is, unless you’ve had an abortion yourself — and don’t deny what abortion is — it’s hard to understand how such brutality could also be met with compassion and forgiveness. 

Learning to Grieve

Healing from abortion — which is the direct taking of an innocent unborn human life — is never done. Something happens to you once you’re willing to be honest with yourself, though. You grieve. You learn that while it’s not okay to take a human life, it’s natural to grieve. You learn that most people who try to rob you of that grief know not what they do. They have never looked in the face of the overwhelming shame and horror that comes from realizing you’ve allowed your own child’s innocent blood be shed. They don’t understand the overwhelming grace and forgiveness that grows from such a radically honest admission.

Once the veil is lifted, you can see through the deceit and manipulation of the abortion industry. You can see the pain of those whose hateful and berating words ricochet off the knowledge of the truth. For those with severe pain, another woman daring to show the vulnerability of their experience feels like a threat. They’ve carefully constructed and fiercely protected their reality.

That is exactly what happened when I decided to go to Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page. I asked a question about healing resources as a healing post-abortive woman.

A Question to Planned Parenthood

Chelsea's question

“What do you say to women who experience post-abortion trauma and mental health issues? Have any women come to you with these concerns? If so, what do you do to validate their experience and set them on a path to healing?”

Admittedly, I am now pro-life. But I did not divulge this fact in my question. I wanted it to be a neutral question that stood on its own. But to my horror, the resulting comments ended up revolving around my “dishonest questioning” and “trolling” of a pro-choice page. Some commenters began stalking my personal profile, and others.’ They stalked my post-abortive pro-life page where I have shared my personal abortion story and where I share information about abortion healing and pro-life related articles.

They argued that I didn’t come to ask an honest question. I came to shame women about their abortions and to wreak havoc on Planned Parenthood’s page.

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I’m a pro-life woman. Considering that fact, along with the extremely polarized state of the abortion debate, I can see how they felt that I was trolling. But this accusation is not grounded in reality. Rather, it is grounded in the false reality of Planned Parenthood’s “reassurances.” These enabled many of the women commenting to go immediately into attack mode. They didn’t consider the question and experience at hand as valid to at least one woman.

Woman-to-Woman Abuse

The thread quickly devolved into a frenzy of woman-to-woman abuse. It was an utterly heartbreaking demonstration of the destruction of abortion on the hearts and souls of women. And the neglect of Planned Parenthood to protect and validate every woman. It spoke to their “commitment” to all women when they failed to promote a supportive atmosphere for women to speak candidly about their experiences. Or to ask questions when necessary.

Some may say, “What did you expect?”

Well, I expected this sort of vitriol at least to some degree, though I have to say, it was stunning just how vile it was.

But more than that, I expected a positive outcome too. An invisible outcome, perhaps, but positive.

Worthy of Care

Women who are staunchly pro-choice, women who are staunchly pro-life, women who are not quite sure, women who lean more one way depending on the circumstances, women facing their own unplanned pregnancies, women who are struggling silently with their abortions may see this question, too. They would see it and they would know that they are worthy of care and consideration after their abortions as much as they were before them.

They would know there are other women who have had strong emotional reactions to their abortions — whether days, months, or years later. And that those reactions are valid and worthy of acknowledgement. They would know that there are reasons for these strong reactions. Despite what they believed or were told at the time of their abortion, abortion is not natural. But their pain and grief is, and it’s a sign of their humanity. These were my intentions for asking my question on Planned Parenthood’s page.

In the end, the question posed was never truly answered. Planned Parenthood never responded to my question. Even after the thread had gone on for over 24 hours with abusive commentary. Even after tagging Planned Parenthood directly, and asking them if this is the kind of woman-to-woman treatment they condone.

Pro-Choicers’ Advice

But many pro-choice commenters gave direct and simple advice.

“See a counselor,” they said, providing a link to Planned Parenthood’s counseling and referral services.

“Abortion regret is not real,” they also said. “Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) is not real,” they said. “Stop using your experience to control other women’s bodies,” they said. “95 percent of women do not feel any regret regarding their choice,” they said, citing sources and studies of pro-choice biased data sets.

95 percent

No regret

These comments were some of the more compassionate, though still only lukewarm, if not cold and devoid of care.

The vitriol on the thread continued for almost 48 hours before Planned Parenthood deleted the post. They never addressed me or my questions.

women to women abuse

An Aggressive Response

Meanwhile, one pro-choice commenter who was among the most aggressive women on the forum created a separate post. They urged Planned Parenthood to address the “serious trolling issue” on their page. They referred to my post and other pro-life men and women who commented. This person claimed that some of us were attempting to gaslight pro-choice women about their abortions via private messenger. They said we also contacted their family members. They went on to say that they and others had contacted authorities as well as legal support, but it was Planned Parenthood’s job to remove pro-life people from their page.

trolling

Shortly thereafter, Planned Parenthood responded to her inquiry. They thanked her for her vigilance and patience and told her that the post had been removed.

Planned Parenthood apology

Since it’s removal, I received a private message from this same woman. She harassed and bullied me with profanity. She had blocked me by the time I saw it. I reported her message to Facebook, providing a screenshot of the message and all other necessary info on their reporting form.

The following day, Facebook responded to my report case. They had closed the case and claimed that they could not find the abuse I was reporting based on the information provided.

Facebook complaint closed

Facebook response

Harassments and Threats

Now many of these same commenters are harassing pro-life individuals on their personal and business accounts. They are threatening legal action. These are related to a blog post published about the thread that contained screenshots of some of the vicious comments. 

In spite of their extreme conduct, and attempts to smear me and others, it’s important to remember that hurt people, hurt people.

Abortion takes the life of another human being. And it also hurts women. Abortion does not free women. It holds us hostage, hardens our hearts, and steals our joy. It turns us against other women, against men, and against our own children.

The Pro-Life Response

Pro-life women offer both truth, and love. They offer understanding and empathy, and they have your back. But they will also tell you when you’re wrong. They will not let you off easy and watch you tear down another woman because of your own pain. They will ask about you, because they care to know. They will listen, when they do not understand. They will be patient and they will be truthful, but kind.

There is a strength and security in knowing what is right and what is wrong. Now more than ever, it is so important to respond to hate with love, and to speak up where the truth is being snuffed out.

I will pray for these women, though they may laugh or hate my prayers. I ask that others also do the same.

Note: An earlier version of this story included a denial by Ms. Brown of her pro-abortion commenter’s allegations. In the absence of proof either way, and since Ms. Brown isn’t the one this commenter claims harassed her, in fairness to all parties we have removed the denial and let the commenter’s post to Planned Parenthood stand on its own. 

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