RECENTLY I WAS able to verify once again that there are disasters far more devastating than the Wall Street type, and that there are also more important recoveries. There is, in fact, genuine hope out there and "change we can believe in" – especially the kind that happens one person, and one heart at a time.

Along with a standing-room only crowd at New York’s University Club, I was introduced to Michaelene Fredenburg and her new project Abortion Changes You.

Michaelene is an attractive, articulate, modern (very "in") looking woman who seemed to fit right into the Manhattan setting of our meeting. Actually she is a San Diego-based mother of two who pursues ballet and snorkelling in her spare time, and is now poised to single-handedly change the abortion debate.

Michaelene poignantly shared the story of her abortion years back, and of the subsequent struggle. (See "Michaelene Fredenburg speaks", below) "My child would probably have graduated from college this past May," she observed. She then reminded us of the harrowing statistic: today, one in three women in the U.S. will have had an abortion by the age of 45 (the rate being even higher in states like New York and California). For more background, I encourage you to take a moment and read Kathryn Lopez’s
Jun 11 interview with Michaelene in National Review Online.

Michaelene is president of Life Perspectives, a San Diego-based
group which has recently launched the project. She explained how this website will serve as a resource and safe haven for anyone suffering from the after-effects of abortion.

How is her approach different? As she explained to Kathryn Lopez, her project is designed specifically for people who have already made the difficult decision to abort. The outreach meets each person as he or she is and gives them the space to express and work through their emotions. Not only is it possible to create such a place, it is necessary for the person who is hurting or confused after an abortion.

A necessary place for two important reasons, as she noted in her presentation: People suffering the after-effects of abortion often feel they can’t share their pain with their liberal friends because abortion is supposed to be ‘okay’. Many can’t bring themselves to talk with conservatives because — as in the case of "Zack", who inspired Michaelene to launch this project – conservatives strike them as too "scary".

So Michaelene has now created a space where people can go and share their pain anonymously. She has accomplished this through her book "Changed", and through her website (to which "Changed" serves as a companion volume). The website – advertised on 1,000 New York subway trains last Oct 13 – offers browsers directions on how to connect with anonymous peer-support groups online or with abortion-healing ministries and counsellors offline.

I believe Michaelene has also created a vehicle through which, little by little, it will become okay to say publicly that abortion is painful. And if she can pull that off, she will have created a debate-changer. n

Father Thomas V. Berg, L.C., is Executive Director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person.

Michaelene Fredenburg speaks
WHEN I BECAME pregnant at 18, I had an abortion.I was completely unprepared for the emotional fallout. I thought the abortion would erase the pregnancy. I thought I could move on with my life. I was wrong.

I experienced periods of intense anger followed by periods of profound sadness. When my feelings became too difficult to deal with, I reached out for help from a trained counsellor.

With counselling and the help of supportive friends, I was able to enter into a healthy grieving process.

In addition to grieving the loss of my child, I slowly became aware of how my choice to abort had impacted my family. I was surprised and saddened that my parents, my sister, and even my living children struggled to deal with the loss of a family member through abortion.

Over the years I’ve heard many heartrending stories about abortion. Although each story is unique, a common thread moves through them all – abortion changes you.

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