Founder of the Post Abortion Healing Course
A friend invited me to a course in Christian basics called ‘Alpha’, and I became a Christian. Through the church I had started attending I met Joanna Thompson who was the National Director of CareConfidential, an affiliation of pregnancy advice centres throughout the UK. We started talking and I told Joanna about my experience of the time my girlfriend had an abortion where I was the father of the child. I said that if I had one clear regret about the past, it was the casual way in which my girlfriend and I had made the decision. She was a lovely person and our relationship had been good. Why had I not thought about having the child and giving it a go? Life had not turned out as I had hoped afterwards, and looking back I regretted the loss of the relationship and not having the child.
As Joanna told me about her work I became interested in the idea of becoming involved. I wished someone had challenged my thinking all those years ago, and I thought that perhaps I could be of use talking with other young men in similar circumstances. It so happened that a month after that meeting, CareConfidential was running a conference on how to set up a pregnancy crisis centre. I signed up for the conference and went along. Being there felt strange, as the few men who were there were mainly partners of the women attending, and so it felt as if there were around one hundred women and me at this conference!
In a seminar called “Post-Abortion Stress and its Effects”, someone spoke of the strong connection that some women can maintain after their abortions, and went on to list the psychological and emotional risks of abortion. I listened politely but didn’t get it at all; it just didn’t make sense to me. I found it hard to believe that women who had gone through an abortion would be feeling this way.
At lunch after the seminar I sat next to a lady called Margaret O’Hara, who asked me why I was at the conference. I told her my story, my subsequent regrets and my plan to become involved with an advice centre. I mentioned the seminar I had been to, and that I disagreed with what had been said, finding it a bit ‘far-fetched’.
At one point in our discussion she said, “I have been thinking about what you told me and I feel God is prompting me to ask you a question – if your child had been born, how old would they be today?” I immediately replied, “Twelve-and-a-half years old.” I can remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. How did I know that? If someone had asked me, “When did your girlfriend have the abortion?” I would not have been able to answer, not to within two or three years. I had completely forgotten when it happened. Yet here I was, all those years later, knowing exactly to the month how old the child would have been. I found this very disturbing.
At that time, Margaret was running what was then one of the first post-abortion groups, and after the conference, she took me through a course. This came as something of a revelation, and turned out to be one of the most difficult, but rewarding, things I have ever done in my life. To be honest, I think the abortion had affected me deeply on a number of levels. A deep sense of guilt had made me feel depressed. I think that at a deep subconscious level I had become afraid of being close to someone, or risking a repeat of the experience. This had left me withdrawn in relationships, and fearing commitment. It had damaged my confidence, making me unsure of what relationship were for, and not wanting children.
The interesting thing is that all this was hidden. If someone had asked me what was wrong before talking with Margaret, I would have said, “Nothing – I’m fine.” But something really was wrong. As I worked it all out I realised that the experience had been holding part of me prisoner for all those years. Once I became aware of this it was possible to resolve it. Over the course of eight weeks I became a different person. The freedom I found was amazing. It was like coming back to life from a dead place.
This experience is what led me to set up the post-abortion course at Holy Trinity Brompton.