Hope for a Future: A Conversation with Sydna Masse
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Thirty-one years ago today, abortion advocates told Americans that every woman has a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. The Supreme Court agreed, and in 1973, the landmark "Roe v. Wade" decision legalized abortion on demand in the United States. But today, abortion is falling out of favor, and more Americans are pro-life now than they have been in the last three decades.
Within the last two weeks, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill banning partial birth abortion. The decision sets up a potential show down in the Supreme Court from opponents of the legislation later this year.
With this apparent ground swell of momentum from Congress it would appear that legalized abortion may eventually be overturned.
In the interim, thousands of young women are still facing a dizzying array of options when faced with a surprise pregnancy each and every day. Chief among them is a womans right to choose between keeping her baby or the decision to abort it.
Sydna Masse, president of Ramah International, was forced to make such a powerful choice while a college student. Even though she was raised in a faith based home and was a professing Christian, Masse opted to abort her baby. Following many years of living with a tremendous sense of guilt, she realized that God had forgiven her. The only problem was Masse had not forgiven herself.
CBN.com Producer Chris Carpenter had the opportunity to speak with Masse recently to discuss her post-abortive ministry, how society has been impacted by post-abortive individuals, and the future of the unparalleled Roe v. Wade decision. The following is a portion of that interview.
CHRIS CARPENTER: Your organization is called Ramah International. Ramah, that is an interesting name. What is the significance of it?
SYDNA MASSE: It is based on, the voices heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping. It is about Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because her children are no more. That is the beginning part of why we are here, why we are doing what we are doing. The Guttmacher Institute which is a research arm of Planned Parenthood says that 43 percent of all American women will experience abortion at least once in their lifetime.
Rarely do you hear women talking about their abortions. They are very silent yet they are a very large demographic. I, as a women who has experienced abortion myself, I look at that verse and I see that we dont want to be comforted. We feel like we have done the worst we could ever do. But the next part of that verse says, "This is what the Lord says, restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears for your work will be rewarded declares the Lord and your children will return from the land of the enemy." So, that is kind of the second part of what we are here to do. We want to provide resources through training people in how to run Bible studies, through generating awareness that there is a hope of healing and educating people on the spiritual, emotional, and psychological side effects of abortion. We hope we can reach these women and men, help them go into a recovery class. Normally, they are held in churches or pregnancy care centers. Cry the tears they have pent up inside of them, in other words grieve this loss and come to the point where they can name these children and mourn them. Hold them a memorial service and God doesnt say that kids are going to be resurrected in that verse. He says they will return from the land of the enemy. By naming these kids, grieving, going through this whole process, they come out of Satans grasp and back into our own hearts where they can live just like any of our other children. And our goal, from the final part of that verse, the part where God says there is hope for your future, is to stop abortion from devastating other lives pure and simple.
CARPENTER: We have gone past the 30th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Do you see this law being overturned in the near future? I am hearing a lot of reports and stories that it is heading that way, that this law will be abolished. What are your thoughts on this concept?
MASSE: I think that it is heading that way. Again, with a "silent no more" campaign which I was involved in, we saw a lot of post-abortive women starting to appear in state capitals saying I regret my abortion. Legislation is moving (the House voted to ban partial birth abortion after this interview was conducted). People are starting through partial birth abortion legislation understanding that abortion is a big evil. But you know, Chris, once it is overturned our work doesnt stop there.
CARPENTER: Oh no. I agree.
MASSE: The pregnancy care movement really needs to beef up quite a bit because of way more children. But there are still millions and millions of women who have had abortions.
CARPENTER: The number is 40 million since 1973.
MASSE: You know, of the 43 percent who have abortions, 44 percent will have multiple abortions. I have only had one but I know full well by talking to a lot of different people that having multiple abortions is very common.
CHRIS CARPENTER: What led you to create this post-abortive ministry that you have?
SYDNA MASSE: I worked for Focus on the Family for five years and saw the pregnancy care centers asking us what can we do?. We need to train people in handling post-abortive mothers and there was really nothing, Chris. There were a handful of programs that had some issues. There were one or two. I tried to talk everyone else into doing what I felt God was telling me what to do. That was to leave Focus on the Family and do post-abortive ministry exclusively. And I was afraid of that. I had this nice safe job and after you live there for awhile (Colorado) you kind of like it. It is comfortable. Leaving Dr. (James) Dobson was hard but God basically shook me over the head and said, "This is what I want you to do. You are in the belly of the whale if you dont do what I want you to do." I wrote the book "Her Choice to Heal, that was coming out so I had a platform and I had Dr. Dobsons blessing so we just started. We didnt really know what we were doing. We had a lot of help from other people that were jazzed by the idea and we started our first training probably six months after my leaving. Since then we have trained about 1,500 people to do post-abortion ministry. We have developed many, many resources which are used to minister to the post-abortive or to help those who are reaching them. We like to look at ourselves as helping other people reach the world. The internet is how we function almost exclusively as far as ministry is concerned. People write us all the time looking for help. We are sort of a triage where we try to get them into their local programs. It has just been God ever since.
CARPENTER: This is sort of a related question and I dont mean to be super-philosophical, but how do you think society has been affected by these post-abortive individuals?
MASSE: Greatly. When you look at the dynamics and the numbers, taking into account multiple abortions, I would say you easily have 20 million women who have had abortions living in the United States right now. You add 20 million men, because men are affected, and they can be part of multiple abortions as well. Grandparents are affected because their child changes. I became a different person. I was dysfunctional. My grades were almost gone, I almost flunked out of college. I did a lot of drugs. Promiscuity. I just became a different individual. I hated my parents, hated my mother because she wasnt emotionally able to (handle it). Not only when she found out about the abortion did she go through deep grief, both my mother and father, they had a traumatized daughter as well. They didnt know why and here I was going crazy. So, it certainly has an effect on grandparents as well. If you have grandparents on both sides of mothers and fathers my boyfriends father eventually called me and talk through his pain and grief at my abortion. I had a relationship with him as well. Because I was so public (well known as a pro-life advocate) I had to be real obvious that they knew about it. Then you consider my children. They have been impacted by my abortion. For the first couple years of motherhood with my oldest son, I had trouble bonding with him. How could I love him and not love the other? I was still trying to avoid the abortion memories and working to distance myself. But that kept me at a different mental state. I was probably better than most. Many post-abortive women can become suicidal, the subject of abuse, or self-abuse themselves. It impacts the kids deeply. And these kids will go on to have abortions.
When you put together all the numbers of parents, grandparents, and siblings affected by abortion, we are talking about 200 million people. Abortion affects nearly everybody whether they realize it or not.
CARPENTER: That is mind boggling. There are approximately 250 million people in this country and to think that 80 percent are directly affected. It is mind boggling. Final question, what advice do you have for young women, who are alone, who are contemplating having an abortion or have already had one?
MASSE: First of all, to find out all the information you can. From experience, I had no idea what the procedure was. I didnt know the risks or the complications. Go to a pregnancy care center for your pregnancy test. Find out what support organizations you have in your area. Many of you feel like this is your only choice. You have all of these people giving you information and they have something to gain from you aborting. For example, your boyfriend or your parents. Abortion does not solve anything. It doesnt make your problems go away. It only makes them bigger in other ways. You know the way you are feeling right now probably isnt the way you are going to feel for the rest of your life. I can guarantee you that by talking to tens of thousands of post-abortive women over the years that it will eventually produce great grief in your life and effect everything you do. It is not going to solve anything so please just find out all the information you can on all of these topics. Have an ultra-sound. See what your child looks like. Pregnancy care centers offer this service for free.
CARPENTER: Thanks for you time to discuss this very critically important issue.
MASSE: Thank you.
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