Fairport event focuses on abortion aftermath - Catholic Courier

Fairport event focuses on abortion aftermath

Kathy Cosgrove will never forget the Planned Parenthood counselor who told her the child she was carrying was nothing — that it was as tiny as the tip of a finger. That was what Cosgrove needed to hear to help her decide whether to have an abortion.

She said the reality of aborting her child didn’t hit until it was years too late. Cosgrove traces her subsequent anger, depression, failed marriage and even the voices in her head to the abortion.

"(It) was only by the grace of God that I was able to begin to realize what exactly I lost on that table," said Cosgrove, who attends Rochester’s St. Boniface Parish.

Years after guilt and other emotions about her abortion tore apart her life and her relationships, Cosgrove found healing through post-abortion counseling and retreats offered by such programs as Rachel’s Vineyard.

Now the regional director of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Cosgrove is sharing the story of her abortion in hopes of leading others to the healing she found. She is organizing a Silent No More event at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at Vincent Kennelley Park on South Main Street at the Erie Canal in Fairport. The gathering will include prayer and personal testimonies, and some participants will be holding "I regret my abortion" signs. All are invited to share their testimonies.

"All people hopefully will hear our message," Cosgrove said.

The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is a national, nondenominational effort that aims to spread the word that abortions can be emotionally, physically and spiritually harmful, and that post-abortion healing programs are available. Cosgrove said she had long wanted to organize a Silent No More event in the area and was buoyed by campaign cofounder Janet Morana’s verbal commitment to attend. Morana, who also serves as associate director for Priests for Life, was in town last fall to speak at a benefit for Rochester’s Women’s Care Center, where Cosgrove works as assistant director.

In her Women’s Care Center position, Cosgrove helps women and families in crisis pregnancies. It is a situation she has personal experience with: She was a 25-year-old mother of two when she herself was in a crisis pregnancy.

"At that time, I was going through a divorce, and I had been involved with another man," Cosgrove said. "I was deeply ashamed of the way I was living my life, and when I became pregnant, I had a hard time making ends meet."

After her abortion, Cosgrove said she was a different person — both distracted and destructive.

"I drank a lot and smoked a lot of marijuana," Cosgrove said. "Within a matter of months, I felt the need to get pregnant again."

Her fourth child, a girl, was born prematurely nearly nine months after her abortion. Though she and the child’s father married, Cosgrove began to blame herself and him for her abortion. She said she believed the premature birth was God’s way of punishing her. Her fifth child, a boy, was born three years after her abortion.

Hostility continued in their home.

"I was so out of control," Cosgrove said. "My children basically grew up in the midst of battles between my husband and me."

This marriage also ended in divorce, and Cosgrove spent several years in a deep depression. She compared the aftermath of her abortion to a wound.

"For lack of a better word, I was bleeding all over the place, but I could not make that connection (at the time)," Cosgrove said.

After having a flashback about her abortion and realizing she had never emotionally healed from it, she began to turn her life around. She started to attend such post-abortion counseling retreats as Rachel’s Vineyard and Lumina, where she learned about God’s forgiveness.

Father James Hewes, diocesan director of the post-abortion ministry Project Rachel, said women and men who need healing from abortion can either participate in one-on-one healing and reconciliation over a period of two months, or in small groups in a weekend retreat such as Rachel’s Vineyard. He said counselors teach women that although they may feel they have committed an unforgivable sin, God has been waiting for them to ask for forgiveness. Another part of the counseling includes repairing relationships that may have been damaged in the wake of an abortion.

"It’s probably the most transformative process of grace I have experienced in my priesthood," Father Hewes stated.

Public testimony might not be for everyone, he said, especially if relationships have not been repaired following an abortion. However, those who feel called through prayer and reflection to give their testimony may inspire others to seek help, he noted.

Cosgrove acknowledges that her story takes courage to tell.

"This is not me," she said. "God gives us the grace to do this."

Cosgrove said a ministry to break the silence around abortion is necessary. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year the U.S. reports more than 800,000 legal abortions; those numbers do not include several states that do not report their statistics.

"Society does not give us the opportunity to grieve," she said. "We are so caught up in our shame that we keep silent. We stay silent."

EDITOR’S NOTE: For details on the Silent No More Awareness Campaign event, contact Kathy Cosgrove at 585-266-3337, e-mail silentnomorerochester@frontiernet.net or visit www.SilentNoMoreAwareness.org. For information on Project Rachel, call 888-9-RACHEL (888-972-2435) or e-mail www.projectrachelrochesterny.org.

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