Paula Ellefson was scared. The 18-year-old soccer goalie, honor roll student, all-around, good kid who couldn’t make a mistake was pregnant. She wasn’t in love with the guy she had slept with, and he wasn’t in love with her. She was raised in the church but lost her way when she started waitressing in a nightclub and getting drunk four nights a week.
Paula didn’t want to believe she was carrying a child. She wanted to believe it was a just a mass of tissue—just like the people at the women’s clinic told her.
But deep down she knew better.
Paula’s memories of the day she went to the abortion clinic are scattered. She remembers it was February in Minnesota. Cold. She remembers the protestors on the street yelling, “How can you do this?” Their signs had awful photos of unborn babies on them. Inside the building, there was a room full of young girls in her exact position. Her legs were numb when they called her name to go back.
She remembers the tugging in her belly and the sound of the suction machine as it pulled her dead child from out of her. A single tear rolled from her eye. She just wanted it over so she could forget.
Paula was relieved when she left the clinic, but the relief didn’t last long. The aftereffects of abortion are rarely discussed, though they plague the women who suffer through them.
She kept her secret for almost two decades before she told anyone what she had done. Even her husband didn’t know. When she told him 13 years later, he forgave her.
One day, she was sitting on a swing in her backyard when she felt God was telling her to speak up. Others needed to hear her story—a story of forgiveness, redemption and grace.
Stories of women having abortions are all too common. After all, one in every three women will abort a child during her life. It’s the second part—the healing part—that is rare. Abortion-vulnerable women aren’t told of the psychological ramifications that come from having an abortion. They aren’t told about the hurt, the shame, the guilt they will have to deal with for years to come.
And when they are trying to deal with the trauma after an abortion, they aren’t offered any help.
One Nashville-based industry artist is working to change that.
Music For The Soul
Steve Siler has a passion for music—and for the power of song and stories—as a bridge to hope and healing for those facing life’s most difficult issues. His ministry, Music for the Soul, will produce a new music album specifically for women and men who have been affected by abortion. It will cost approximately $35,000 to produce and distribute the album, so local business leaders have partnered to host a free fundraising dinner on September 29th to help fund the album’s development.
The banquet and musical evening will feature Paula Ellefson and her testimony. Singer/songwriter Scott Krippayne, one of the writers on the project, will join Paula to perform songs from the album, “Healing the Abortion Wounded Heart.”
Why produce music? Searching for a way to bring healing to abortion-vulnerable women, Steve Siler conducted extensive research to understand how to best reach the post-abortive demographic and bring them a message of hope. Musical notes affect one hemisphere of the brain, while lyrics reach the other. The combination of music and words affects the listener in a powerful way because it reaches both hemispheres of the brain, fast tracking a message of healing by creating breakthroughs for those who have been unable to process words they need to hear, according to the Music for the Soul website.
Austin Boyd, CEO of Whitespace Innovations and a member of our local Choose Life Board of Directors, is heading up the free dinner. He said most of the women who make a decision to abort a child feel as if they have run out of options. They see abortion as their only alternative. Yet, across the nation, hundreds of thousands of women turn to local crisis pregnancy centers for another option, centers like Huntsville’s Choose Life.
“They come seeking hope and an alternative to terminating the pregnancy—a life alternative that they may not have heard from others who know their secret. Community centers like Choose Life bring that message of hope in Jesus Christ, while offering emotional and material support for those considering abortion. Choose Life and nearly two thousand other centers like them also connect women with a message of God’s healing for those who have already had abortions,” Austin said.
There is hope. But for centers like Choose Life to reach women in need, there must be a motivation for them to reach out for help. Austin explained, “Music has the ability to reach deep into our hearts and move us to action. Music for the Soul brings a message of God’s healing and moves people to action.”
Not Just Women
But it’s not just women who suffer from the aftermath of abortions. Music for the Soul also reaches men who are dealing with the dark guilt of abortion.
Men like Tim White.
Tim was 19 when his then fiancé got pregnant. They made the decision to abort their child because they feared their strict parents and religious community wouldn’t support them. They never spoke of the abortion after it was done. Their marriage lasted 17 years, and during that time, guilt consumed Tim.
He remarried a few years after his divorce and was determined to do what he knew was right. “We made it a priority to have a quiet time and pray together each night before we went to sleep. One evening, I related my abortion story to her and confessed to murder,” he said. Instead of reacting with disgust, his wife reminded him that God had already forgiven him, but he still needed to forgive himself.
“It still hurts because I killed my baby, but the guilt is not there anymore. I’ve given it to God,” Tim said.
Tim went through the Healing Hands program at the Choose Life center here in Huntsville. Healing Hands is a Gospel-based program designed for men and women who have been affected by abortion. Today, he volunteers for the same program to help other men who have been in his position.
In a lot of ways, men are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting help after an abortion. For one, many believe there are far fewer resources designed to help them deal with the trauma. Second, some men think showing their feelings means they lack strength.
“As guys, when we’re affected by things like that, we feel like it’s a sign of weakness,” Tim said. “There are tons of guys out there like me who are carrying this kind of guilt, and they don’t know what to do with it.”
Music for the Soul has also created songs from the male perspective for this project. They will help men like just like Tim have their feelings validated, encourage them to tell their story, and seek healing from their shame and guilt.
How Huntsville Can Help
Pregnancy resource centers like Choose Life are springing up across the nation. A few years ago, the number of pregnancy resource centers surpassed the number of abortion centers. Today, nearly 5,000 people in Huntsville, most of them women, turn to Choose Life for crisis pregnancy resources and post-abortive healing.
Austin Boyd said Madison is one of the few counties in the nation where there are more free ultrasounds performed than abortions. The Huntsville community, by supporting bringing Music for the Soul’s “Healing the Abortion Wounded Heart” to life, can show leadership in sharing the hopeful message of post-abortive healing far and wide.
How can you help? Join others in our community for the Music for the Soul fundraising dinner on September 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Huntsville First Baptist Church and find out. The dinner is free.
We know you will be blessed by the music and a message of hope.