Six years ago, Georgette Forney, head of an Episcopal Church pro-life group, asked the church to create a healing service for people like herself and others she encountered who had had abortions.
She terminated a pregnancy when she was 16. "For 19 years I was fine. I never thought about it," she told a committee that was considering liturgy legislation at the 2003 General Convention. Then, one day, without warning, she opened an old yearbook and "felt the presence of my child.
"I did not expect this, I did not plan for it, and I was overwhelmed when it happened. I didn't know how to cope," said Forney, president of Anglicans for Life (formerly the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life or NOEL).
The committee recommended – and convention approved – the development of rites that respond "to the pastoral needs of women and men and who have experienced miscarriage, abortion or other trauma in the childbearing or childbirth process."
The result is Rachel's Tears, Hannah's Hopes: Liturgies and Prayers for Healing from Loss Related to Childbearing and Childbirth, which the 2009 General Convention will consider when it meets July 8-17 in Anaheim, California.