Tuesday, July 13, 2010

To Abortioneers: Help Out About A Girl!

Dear Abortioneers Out There:

I have a confession. I'm having a mini - tiny even - crisis. OK. "Crisis" is a bit dramatic; but I could totally use your help. The dilemma: I can hardly relate to clients who worry about god and if this god is going to forgive them for their abortion(s). Why is this a mini crisis? Well, because:

a) where I live, some of our abortion clients seem to be concerned about this (at least on some level), and
b) because I'm meant to have a counseling session with someone tomorrow to further discuss her spirituality and her abortion decision-making decision.

I hardly feel qualified. I used to be religious. Perhaps even zealous. I've probably even blogged about it before. I was super conservative....a long, long time ago; but that religiousness has now been out of my life for as many years as it had been in it. So I find myself at this...strange place....where I can sort of/kind of remember when I worried what god would think of me, but mostly, I just can't.

Not remembering and grasping onto this I'm-concerned-about-what-god-would-want-me-to-do thing isn't helping me at work right now. When I was a bit religious (occasionally going to church) and still holding down my abortioneer job, I loved it when women mentioned god during counseling sessions. I could relate. I could talk about god and spirituality easily. I wasn't in the slightest offended by the idea of a god or by religion itself (whereas now, religion offends me). So it seems like some twisted act of fate (or perhaps god has a sense of humor? Ha!) that I'm meant to talk to a bright, capable, young woman tomorrow who holds in her hands her very future, and the only thing stifling her is something I think is imaginary: god. I don't understand. I just want to say to said bright, capable young woman, "You know. I hate to break it to ya, but there is no god. Or if there is a god, this god is sooooo not going to care about if you have an abortion or not. If there's a god, it might be a teensy bit more caught up with more important matters like, um, global warming, civil wars across the world, genocides. That sort of thing." Yet, I can't bring myself to say that (at least not to her), because....well, she believes in some god who is going to care if she has an abortion or not.

I'll be frank (or - um - even more frank). I'm not really sure what to do. I keep re-reading literature from RCRC (Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) and other documents, but it's not really helping me get back to understanding this spiritual concern she has. I want to give her some words of wisdom, of comfort. I want to be able to say something she can relate to, that helps her heart feel at ease: whatever decision she makes. Yet the reality is, it doesn't - I don't think - really matter what I tell her because it truly only matters what she thinks/believes. Problem is: I just can't relate.

I suppose I need to get over myself a bit. Not expect that I have to have words of wisdom. But I still am supposed to say SOMETHING to her, RIGHT? If she comes to our counseling appointment talking about god and her spirituality and reconciling that with her abortion decision (which is exactly what she told me she needs help doing!), I really don't know what I'm going to say. (BTW - I am trying to find clergy or something willing to talk to her!)

So, sisters in abortionland, maybe you can help me out. Do any of you relate to what I'm talking about? I know there are abortioneers out there who are religious/spiritual. What kind of wisdom do you give to women? Do you have some advice for me? I appreciate it. Thanks!

Much love,
About a Girl.


  1. I'm sure you've looked at this, but just in case, maybe giving your patient the link may help:

    A Guide to Spiritual and Emotional Resolution After Abortion: http://pregnancyoptions.info/emotional&spiritual.htm

    What about some prayers/sermons from RCRC? http://www.rcrc.org/perspectives/prayers_sermons.cfm

    Or she could talk to someone from Faith Aloud: http://www.faithaloud.org/

    Hope that helps!

    Steph (@IAmDrTiller)

  2. Oh, AAG, have I been there! I have little/no advice, except what I used to do during the few counseling sessions I had with patients about God (it was usually about whether all men cheat or if dollar store pregnancy tests are reliable), but I just turned all their questions back on them and encourage them to have the discussion with themselves. I feel like they usually already know how they feel about God and yadda yadda, they just want to feel that how they feel is OK. So you don't really need expertise there, because they've already thought about it tons.

  3. Catholics For Choice might be a good resource. I used to be Roman Catholic (not sure where you live, but where I live in NYS there are many RCs) and this website has some good info for those of that faith who are pro-choice, pro-conception, etc. For the more fundamentalist types, I don't know.

  4. I was going to TELL you what to TELL this woman, but anti-anti's advice is much better: turn the questions back on her, let her talk it out, listen to her, and validate her feelings.

    But because I like to TELL people what to do, here was my reasoning:
    (I grew up Catholic, had lots of issues with what my religion teachers and priests said; in high school Mom took us to a Lutheran [ELCA] church and all the stuff that didn't work for me in Catholicism made sense in the Lutheran church -- so that's my background, if it helps/matters)

    God is the Alpha and the Omega, right? He knows all. Before He formed me in my mother's womb, before He formed my mother in my grandmother's womb, before He finished molding Adam out of mud, God knew that I would have an unplanned pregnancy at the age of 22, with a pot-smoking, emotionally abusive boyfriend. And He knew what choice I was going to make.

    (I have Free Will, which is the first thing God gave us -- He even let Adam and Eve make their own choices regarding the whole Tree of Knowledge fruit and all -- but He knows what choices I'm going to make. I decide my own path/destiny, but He knows what those choices will be.)

    Because God knew that I would have to face this choice, He put certain people, and certain events, in my life, to give me the information and confidence I needed to make the choice I needed to make. (This sounds like it conflicts with the Free Will thing, but it doesn't. At least, not in my head.)

    God knew all along, since the beginning of time, that I would have an abortion. He gave me the strength I needed to make that choice, because that was the best thing for me and for that potential child (and for the abusive, controlling, pot-smoking boyfriend). God helped me make that choice, so how could He be against it?

    If this woman is already at the point where she's coming to you for this session, then she's already made up her mind, she just doesn't realize it yet, or she's afraid to admit it to herself. God gave her the strength to go to the clinic and make that appointment (a very hard thing to do, at least for me); God knows what choice she will make and He knows whatever she decides is the best path for her, which is why He gave her the strength to take that path.


  5. (Part II)

    When I was discussing reproductive rights, choice, and abortion with my pastor once (can't remember exactly how we got on that topic...) said that the way he sees it, the thing we have to ask ourselves (what God/Jesus would ask us if we asked Him), is "What is the most loving thing to do?" What is the most loving thing for this woman to do, for herself? For that potential child? (For me, especially knowing what I know know about my relationship and knowing how my then-boyfriend turned out, the most loving thing for that potential child was not bringing it into a world where it would have two parents who resented it, one abusive, the other mentally unstable and depressed, who had the potential but not the means to care for it emotionally or financially. And there are way too many problems with the adoption system for me to even consider adding another child to it -- there are too many children needing parents as it is.)

    Also, women need to learn to be selfish -- what is the most loving thing FOR HER to do? God blessed her with gifts and talents. Will she be able to use those gifts and talents in the way God intended her to if she becomes a single mother? (Antis love to ask what if the fetus grows up to be the doctor who cures cancer -- well, what if SHE is the doctor who grows up to cure cancer, but she decides against med school because she has to find some hourly job to pay rent for herself and her child??)

    God is going to love this woman no matter what. God already knows what she's going to do, and He already loves her. It's not like she's going to do something and "surprise" Him with her actions and He's suddenly going to turn his back on her.

    (Wow -- sorry for the dissertation. I hope this helps? Give that woman a hug for me.)

  6. Thank you for asking this. I don't have any answers, either, and I feel totally confused about it because I don't even have any type of religious upbringing/background that would give me keywords or catchphrases to counter with. Recently, though, I have managed to connect with a few very Christian clients. I rely heavily on Faith Aloud's DVD, but also on the ideas that "God knows what's in your heart," or "Do you believe in a forgiving God?" or "God's concern for YOUR life" and making the decision our of respect/compassion. But...that's all I got. I'm looking forward to seeing other responses.

  7. Every person is different, and every Christian is different. Your discussion will be different depending upon if your person is more analytical (yes or no, mathematical) or more into what ifs and possibilities.

    I think regardless of what type of person your client is, it would be helpful to remind them of verses which speak of God's love and compassion:

    Psalm 145:8-9 (New International Version)

    8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.

    9 The LORD is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.

    Does she think this is a hardship she must overcome? Regardless of her choice (abortion or carrying to term), taking an active role in making a decision is overcoming her hardship:

    Revelation 3:5 (New International Version)

    5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

    Does she have a "bad feeling" about this, or does she feel this is the "right thing" to do? God knows our plans, and He can help us choose the right path. If she has spent time praying and feels that abortion is the best choice for her, then this verse might be relevant:

    Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New International Version)

    11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

    There's also a logical route: if God were against abortion completely, why would He allow her to become pregnant when He knows she would have an abortion? The joining of the sperm and egg is not part of our free will, and therefore God can control it (just like He did when Mary became pregnant with Jesus). But I would only mention this last part to someone who thinks logically (I don't mean to say other people are illogical. I just mean some people prefer numbers while other people prefer painting type stuff. Does that make sense?).

    And if nothing else, God and Jesus are full of compassion and forgiveness. Jesus was sent to die so that God's people could be forgiven. So yes, God will forgive your sins, if one were to believe that abortion is a sin, and will not deny a person eternal life for making a choice they didn't believe was bad.

    "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life." ( John 5:24)

  8. Wow. I just want to say I'm completely bowled over by all these responses; I am very, very grateful to each of you for taking the time to respond, and for being so thoughtful in those responses.

    I'll try to respond to each of you individually.

    Steph: THANK YOU for the resources you provided. They have been tremendously helpful. More than you could know.

    Anti-Anti: Thanks so much for your support. Yes, I do need to just listen to her talk, to ask her questions about what she thinks/what she believes. I know it can be so difficult, though, when your own personal beliefs start to be different from what you previously believed to be true.

    Kristen: your suggestion was very helpful. :) In the very least, I know we need more of their brochures at our clinic!

    Chris L Cox: Wow. Thank you for your comment. I am grateful that you shared your history, your story with us. It really was very helpful to read your perspective and how one set of religious traditions didn't fit you, yet another did. And how these things then helped you shape your decision-making process and your beliefs around abortion. Believe it or not - and this goes to Pro-Choice Christian, too - I actually haven't been very familiar with the belief that god would know everything that we were about to do/all the choices were were going to make in life (yet still have free will) before. In my religious belief (when I was younger), I was taught something differently, so this actually was helpful for me to gain insight on. And I suspect the belief you + Pro-Choice Christian touched on with this, is probably fairly common among Protestant religions (possibly Catholic, too?) and could very well be comforting for many.

  9. Desembarazme: I heart you and glad that my asking these questions will help you, too. I really didn't know much about Faith Aloud before, and I am definitely going to check out their dvds! Thanks for you and Steph for sharing more about them with me.

    Christian ProChoicer: Thank you for the scripture verses from the Bible. I will copy these down and have them handy for when I speak with her. I hope they will give her some comfort. In the very least, I hope that the message of love comes through to her. I also appreciate how you reminded me that different people think differently about issues....

    Again - thanks everyone! I seriously am super duper grateful! You've been a HUGE help!!!

  10. To Criss L. Cox: Thank you SO much for sharing this! As someone who still struggles with a religious upbringing that was not healthy, but isn't sure she wants to give up on religion entirely, your response was very thought provoking for me, and applicable to many life choices, not just abortion. Very comforting as well, the way religion should be, and unfortunately was not for me.
    I think your words would be very helpful for a woman of faith who thinks her god will hate her for making he right choice for her.

  11. There is not a religious bone in my body, but I thought this was absolutely beautiful:

    "Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New International Version)

    11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

    A million thanks, Christian Prochoicer, for sharing. As much of a skeptic as I am, I do believe that religion can be a healing force for its followers.

  12. I am similarly unsure what to do when confronted with this, and as someone who is not religious I'm actually uncomfortable. I have found that simply holding a woman's hand and reassuring her that 'God knows what's in her heart' is comfort enough.

  13. When I counsel a women who is spiritual or religious, pre or post abortion -

    God forgives before you even ask.

    You may not agree with my opinions and that's okay. Here's what I believe - I believe that god knows your heart and she knows that your are not considering abortion out of malice but that you are considering it because you are responsible. God knows that this is a hard decision for you and knows that you wouldn't be considering abortion if you didn't think it was for the best.

    Pregnancies deserves to be planned, so that they are wanted. You can still be a part of your family, church and religion and get an abortion. God has given all women the heavy burden of choice and with this choice comes a conscious, to ensure we women have an internal 'checks and balances' system in place from god to ensure that if we must consider this as an option we do it with the appropriate solemnity and thoughtfulness.

    Personally I choose to believe in reincarnation. I believe that when I terminated my pregnancy, I wasn't hurting or murdering something, rather I liberating it of it's barely formed flesh to be born again in another incarnation. One where hopefully it would have more chances and opportunities than I could give it at that moment. A soul cannot die, and at this point *you* have barely begun to create it's flesh. This is what I choose to believe, carefully examine what you are comfortable choosing to believe in.

    No one has the right to judge except god. And if their is a god, she knows you felt like you did the right thing, your didn't have an abortion out of malice - you did it knowing it was the right thing to do - why would god punish that?

    Your beliefs, your choices. Choose wisely.


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.