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Mark Ruffalo’s Reaction to His Mom’s Abortion Isn’t the Whole Story

Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

The impact on children of being told about an aborted sibling should make mothers think twice.

The question of telling one’s children about a prior abortion has been debated by many. Some believe “the truth will set you free." Maybe it will in this case, but while the mother may feel unburdened by revealing her secret, she must also consider what this knowledge is doing to her living children. Countless siblings have been swept into a downward spiral 
– trying to find peace and understanding and their very worth.


I read an interview with Theresa in a newsletter written by the Sisters of Life, where she mentioned Lumina’s Sibling Day. I thought about my siblings deeply for the first time … ever. It hit me that had any of them been born, I would not have been “the eldest,” but the second youngest. The more I thought about it, the more I felt a certain identity crisis. Would my mother have treated me better if I were the second youngest child? I’ve mused that perhaps my sister and I would not have been born at all if she had had all the previous four children before me because she would not have wanted an even larger family. — R.

Would I even be here if that sibling had not been aborted? This is just one of the haunting questions that confront them. Would my name be the same? Was I wanted? Why am I alive and not my sibling? It could have been me. What would life be like if my brother or sister had been allowed to live?

And, then, they also have to face conflicting feelings regarding their parents, the very ones they trusted to protect them. They may feel a mixture of anger, hatred and love toward their parents, along with a desire to protect them from those who would judge them, label them as murderers. They find it impossible to reconcile all their conflicted emotions.

Most siblings feel very alone in this situation, although we know – with over 55 million abortions in the United States –the number of surviving siblings is likewise in the tens of millions. Many either become firmly pro-life or, if they are worried about their parents and unable to examine what happened dispassionately, they become adamantly pro-choice.

Actor Mark Ruffalo is a good example of the latter reaction. Last year, speaking about his mom’s abortion, he explained:

I am a man. I could say this has nothing to do with me. Except I have two daughters and I have a mother who was forced to illegally have an abortion in her state where abortion was illegal when she was a very young woman. It cost $600 cash. It was a traumatizing thing for her. It was shameful and sleazy and demeaning. When I heard the story, I was aghast by the lowliness of a society that would make a woman do that. I could not understand its lack of humanity; today is no different.

Sadly, the opportunity was lost with Mr. Ruffalo. Instead of ministering to him and his mom by understanding his feelings and her experience (without agreeing that abortion is okay), some attacked him for defending his mom and accused him of not caring about his sibling’s life.

In truth, I suspect that Mark Ruffalo was not motivated to defend legal abortion by any fondness for the procedure as much as he desired to protect his mom and validate her decision under the very difficult situation she faced when she chose to abort. He fails to recognize that what she’s suffered came not from abortion having been illegal, but from her desperate circumstances and the abortion loss itself. He also seems to be in denial as to what the loss of his sibling means for his own life. 

The healing of women who have lost children through abortion has taken precedence over trying to understand the impact of a sibling’s death on her other children. Many women who come to regret their abortion burn with a desire to outlaw abortion and keep other women from making that tragic mistake. This can often drive women to confessing their abortion to their children so that they can then be "free" to speak publicly about their pain and loss, and in some way "make up for" their abortions. They are led to believe that speaking publicly would serve the greater good.

Among those who have experienced abortion, the desire for understanding, acceptance and forgiveness from their children can be overwhelming, especially if they are still struggling with forgiveness and healing. Children who are not yet adults, however, may find it impossible to understand, accept and forgive.

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