Despite the Catholic Church’s teaching that abortion is a grave sin, “Catholic women, unfortunately, abort at the same rate as the rest of the population,” noted Jann Armantrout, diocesan life-issues coordinator.
For this reason, a new publicity campaign aims to heighten awareness among diocesan Catholics about Project Rachel, a national ministry offering spiritual and psychological care for people suffering the effects of abortion. The effort includes substantial media advertising, including a full-color display ad for Project Rachel that appeared in the Catholic Courier’s May edition. In addition, Armantrout hopes that every diocesan parish will prominently display Project Rachel posters and informational pamphlets. She said the campaign was made financially possible through “very generous contributions.”
Project Rachel is in its 12th year of operations in the Rochester Diocese, but Armantrout — who serves as administrator of the local group — said many people affected by abortion are still either unaware of its existence and/or need an extra push to confront this difficult subject. Women may suffer mentally, psychologically and spiritually for many years after an abortion, Armantrout said, noting that she recently had spoken with an 81-year-old woman who still regretted an abortion she underwent when she was young. Remarking that almost everybody knows of at least one person who has experienced an abortion, Armantrout said she hopes the publicity effort will engender more widespread word of mouth.
Project Rachel programs, available in 140 U.S. Catholic dioceses and overseas, offer trained counselors and priests to provide one-on-one support in a nonjudgmental fashion.
“Project Rachel is always available at the moment of need,” Armantrout said.
The ministry also provides support groups and retreats, such as the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat that will take place this fall at a yet-to-be-determined location in Monroe County. The ministry is open to people of all ethnic backgrounds and religious denominations — and also to men who may regret having played a role in an abortion.
Armantrout said she hopes the awareness campaign also will help debunk the message in society that sex is recreation and abortion is a casual option.
“This not only goes out to a woman who has had an abortion, but young girls out there in society who are being told, ‘Oh, sex is OK. Use birth control, but if that doesn’t work, get an abortion,'” Armantrout said. “Abortion is portrayed as it will undo the pregnancy — that an abortion will take care of ‘it,’ and ‘it’ won’t be a problem anymore. But a child was conceived, and that’s the truth. The marketability of birth control and abortion has made it far too easy for all people, particularly young people, to be unaware of the profound nature of the sexual relationship. That profundity is most evident in the conception of a child.”
Since abortion often is characterized as a choice and not the ending of a life, “the pressure to abort in the age 18 to 25 group is pretty phenomenal,” Armantrout said, noting that young women most often endure this kind of pressure from boyfriends or family members.
She noted that the truth about abortion can be seen in what she perceives as a widespread silence among people who have been involved with abortions.
“For all this supposed acceptance, nobody talks about it afterward. What’s up with that?” Armantrout asked rhetorically.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn more about Project Rachel, visit www.projectrachelrochesterny.org or call 1-888-972-2435.