Spirituality and Religion
Beliefs Within a Pro-Choice Context
How each of us makes sense of abortion is very personal. Abortion goes to the core of what we believe exists beyond ourselves. An unwanted pregnancy and the choice to have an abortion may force us to think about many questions: When does life begin? What is the nature of spirit or soul? Is there a greater power? Each one of us will look inside and find our own answers to these questions.
Sometimes a woman is raised to be pro-choice and believe that having an abortion may be a necessary action, if not always an easy choice. Even so, a woman may question the spiritual effects of choosing abortion to her fetus, herself, her partner and her community.
Some women believe that spirit is not yet infused in the early embryo and fetus. Perhaps individual spirits follow a fertile woman waiting for a chance to come in. And in these early stages of pregnancy, there are multiple spirits that flutter in and out, with none attached. The loss of the pregnancy then, through miscarriage or abortion, is only a biological event.
Some women believe that spirit is infused in all things- the elements, plants and animals. These women believe that when an abortion occurs, if there is a spirit infused with the fetus, it is only going back to where it came. In this belief, the spirit doesn’t die in an abortion, it just moves to another place: a soft, familiar and safe place.
The spirit may later return to the woman, as in reincarnation. The spirit that was infused with the fetus may return in the form of a future child or grandchild or in some other unpredictable way. The spirit cannot end, it can only change forms.
A woman who believes in fate trusts that if there is a spirit that she is meant to know, she will. She cannot terminate a soulful relationship through having an abortion. She can only set boundaries in her life at this time and say not now, see you later and wait to meet that spirit in another context. For many of us an unintended pregnancy will awaken or reawaken spiritual questions. By probing our beliefs about spirit, we may find the experience leaves us with greater insight about some basic life questions. In this way, we will have found the gift within the hands of the problem, and grown as a human being.
For Women Raised in an Anti-Choice Family or Religion
Sometimes a woman comes from a religious faith that openly condemns abortion. Perhaps the woman herself has been against abortion until she finds a circumstance where she is unable to carry a pregnancy to term.
When a woman has been opposed to abortion until the time she chooses to have one, she can face a profound spiritual crisis. The human mind does not like to carry around two conflicting beliefs at the same time. It can cause anxiety, sleeplessness and sometimes destructive behavior.
A woman who is pro choice, but has a family or faith that is anti-choice may also experience anxiety and sleeplessness. Even though a woman’s conscious mind understands the necessity of reproductive choice, she may have difficulty separating her beliefs from those of her family and religion.
It is important to remember two things: first, no one knows the nature of spirit and what exists beyond us no one knows. We all live in faith, even those who proclaim to know. Second, we all do the best we can given the circumstances we are in and the resources we have to work with. If a woman believes in God, in a traditional Christian sense, she can look to her relationship with Him and ask which she believes: is He condemning and punitive or is He all-loving and all forgiving? If you believe that God is all-loving, then why would he not love a woman who has had abortion?
All major world religions have a view about the sanctity of life. And all major world religions also have, at the very least, a sect of members who can make sense of abortion (or euthanasia) within their religion. For more information check out the following links: Chatholics for Choice, Chatholics for Choice and Abortion, Islam and Abortion, Hinduism and Abortion, Buddisum and Abortion, Jewish Perspective on Abortion, Protestant Perspective on Abortion, Unitarian Universalist Perspective on Abortion, Sacred Choices by Dan Maguire.
It is difficult to feel so torn between a belief and a desired action. It is even more difficult when we cannot talk to those in our closest circle. The process of an unintended pregnancy and abortion may present one of the most difficult challenges of our spiritual life. However, during this journey, we have the opportunity to experience empathy for others that we may not have known before, and gain insight into spiritual questions and our personal beliefs. In this way, we will find the gift in the hands of the problem and grown as a person.
If you are struggling with spiritual or religious concerns related to abortion you can call Woman’s Health Options (780-484-1124) to ask for a referral to a spiritual or religious counselor.Â Also, you can click on this link to view our resource list.
by Marsie Silvestro © 1983
Bless you my sister, bless you on your way
You have roads to roam before you’re home
And winds to speak your name.
So go gently my sister let courage be your song
You have words to say in your way and stars to light your night.
And if ever you grow weary and your heart song has no refrain
Just remember we’ll be waiting to raise you up again.
And we’ll bless your sister, bless you in our way
And we’ll welcome home all the life you’ve known and softly speak your name.
And we’ll welcome home all the self you own and softly speak your name
Bless you my sister, bless you on your way.