An interview with Anne Lastman, founder of Victims of Abortion Trauma Counselling and Information Services
- by Steve Klomp
Interview conducted in August 2021 at the Right to Life Association of WA offices in East Perth.
Anne has been a Counsellor for many years and first founded the Victims of Abortion Trauma Counselling and Information Services in circa 1996. She has delivered an amazing service to many hundreds of clients during that period. She has battled ideological opposition, personal health difficulties, financial issues and property concerns that all threatened to close her down but nothing ever managed to wilt her spirit. She is up against an apparently irresistible force but Anne is very definitely an immovable object.
Victims of Abortion Trauma Counselling and Information Services operates in both Perth and Melbourne. So great is the need for abortion trauma counselling that Anne was once seeing 35 clients per week. It was an impossible workload, especially considering how emotionally stressful this type of counselling can be. Even today, at 73, Anne still sees up to 18 clients a week.
Anne is an enigma, no doubt. She is genuine and warm in the way mothers are, loving, intelligent, thoughtful and intuitive. She wears her Christianity – her Catholicism – as easily as a second skin.
Anne is Italian and proud of it. She is prone to speaking loudly and confidently as I gently suggest many Italians can be(!), is fiery in one instant and in the next second crying over an injustice. Luckily her husband Andrew is her biggest supporter and a perfect foil for her strong personality.
Anne is at once a mother, wife, counsellor, successful author and world traveller, and owns a string of tertiary qualifications as long as her arm. She has presented at nearly forty international conferences, including at the Vatican itself. But the main reason she has been so successful as a Counsellor is because of her own life experiences. Anne has suffered through two abortions herself, survived years of domestic violence and lived through other shocking experiences.
Anne knows that nobody ever gets over an abortion. They always wish they could go back in time and unmake that decision. They all mourn for the little child they have lost.
Her counselling centres on allowing her clients to describe the often harrowing circumstances that have led them to their abortions. She gives them the opportunity to grieve and then to seek forgiveness from themselves, their baby and the Lord.
There is certainly no quick fix. The process can take many years. Some of her clients can only just get through each day, others live with the guilt and appear for all intents and purposes to be functioning well. Some try to justify abortion to others, although in their heart of hearts they know their arguments don’t stack up.
Anne says we must never judge or condemn anyone who has had an abortion. And we must never judge their families. Rather we must be compassionate and ready to listen and to help.
At the same time, she argues that they must all accept responsibility for what they have done if they are ever going to experience real healing.
Over the years, Anne has discovered a relationship between early childhood sexual abuse and multiple abortions. A woman who has had three, four or even more abortions is often self-sabotaging due to sexual abuse during childhood. She has lost her self-esteem and her sense of trust in herself and she experiences a need to ‘re-wound’ herself again and again through abortion. Anne knows that the sexual abuse must be dealt with first or any healing achieved from the grief of abortion will only be temporary.
When asked about the Safe Access Zone legislation recently passed in Western Australia she had this to say: ‘People often equate legality with morality in the short term. In other words, if something is legal they assume it is also morally right, especially if there is no visible opposition to their decision to have an abortion. And so women who have an abortion generally feel less traumatised in the short term after this legislation comes into force, and as a result the demand for abortion trauma counselling lessens. However, in the longer term this effect wears off. Mothers and families realise what they have done and recognise that the law doesn’t give their decision any validity. So they come to counselling.
Put another way: the so-called safe access zone legislation causes trauma counselling to drop in the short term but in the longer term the need for abortion trauma counselling rises higher than ever’ Victims of Abortion Trauma Counselling and Information Services (VOA) does not receive any funding from the Catholic Church or any other religious organisation. The service survives on donations from benevolent business people and the donations that stem from the bi-monthly newsletter ‘Broken Branches’. Their website is https://www.victimsofabortion.com.au/ The Right to Life Association of Western Australia website features the latest Broken Branches newsletter. Our office is happy to accept donations for VOA. We have also offered to assist in the printing and distribution of the VOA newsletter.