From a guest blogger:
One of the things that surprised me most when I came to work at the clinic was the level of spiritual resolution that many patients have already achieved prior to walking in the door. I expected my work with women to include a dimension of spiritual counseling. I expected the Christian women I spoke with would utilize the same black and white absolutes that they hear from the pulpit. I expected an angry Old Testament God offering punishment, women feeling cut off or cast out of God's light.
Overwhelmingly, what I found, instead was that most women had already gone to God, prayed upon their decision and felt a sense of resolution and right action. Despite whatever their religious leadership preach about abortion or sex, most of the women I counsel have found a very personal connection to God in their journey through thier pregnancy. They have gone to Him for counsel and find His love to be a sense of comfort. It's not “what does your church teach you about abortion,” that I ask women now, it's “does He know what's in your heart?”
No one typified this more than Marnie, who came into the clinic for a non-surgical abortion. She was in her thirties with three children, the adult daughter of a minister. With the support of her family, friends and therapist, she was finally moving towards separation from an abusive husband. She was trying desperately to protect herself from this man, while respecting her children's need to maintain some contact with their father. He was not abusive towards the children, she explained, but they were witness to his behavior towards her. “A man like that,” she said quietly and with conviction, “should not have any more children.” This was how she knew that abortion was the morally right decision for her. She was doing the best with the situation she had around her, but God would not forgive her for subjecting another child to chaos and cruelty.
I asked her about growing up as a minister's kid. “When I think about church,” she said, “I think about my family, how it was a special time. I think of my dad's aftershave and getting dressed up in my best clothes. I think about the music, my mom's singing, and the big meal we'd have afterwards. Those feelings, that's what really sticks with me.” My eyes welled up listening to her. It was the love and the comfort that made an impression, preparing her best self to stand before God, to join and praise. “My mother is in the waiting room,” she said, “and this has been really hard for her, but she understands. I've had such amazing support. The man outside offered me a rosary. I told him I had already made up my mind and didn't want to talk to him, but that I could use all the prayer I could get.”
Marnie had chosen to have a medical abortion and we discussed what that would feel like for her. “It is very important for me to take responsibility for this,” she said, “and do it myself.” She had had a prior miscarriage and felt confident that she could work through the cramping and bleeding as the pregnancy passed. This was going to be private, sacred time, she explained. She had prepared her bedroom at home, bought a new bible and had selected some scripture that she felt spoke to her situation. “I need this to be respectful,” she said, “Me and the baby are going to work through this together.” I offered some scripture I share with women about God's all-encompassing love and we hugged as she was leaving. I told her that I'd be thinking of her and thanked her for letting us care for her. The level of peace and confidence she displayed were so moving. I'm still thinking of her.