OK, I'm posting twice 'cause I am out of here for a few days and so is Lou. Besides, Lou wants me to tell you this one god story.
Religion, God, faith, morality, ethics, etc come up a lot at an abortion clinic which may be a surprise to some. For me, it's a fascinating look into what is important for people, how they make decisions, what guides their lives.
This week I have had a lot of godtalk. One woman wrote "God" in a pre-printed section "I am concerned about my relationship with____" (She was worried about punishment and retribution but was trying to believe that God was compassionate and forgiving. This was a very matter of fact discussion for her.) Another identified as Christian and was very active in her church. During the abortion she said, I'm in church 6 days a week, yet here I am. She said that her religion forbids abortion but after a good conversation she said that maybe her church was "too comfortable" in their position about abortion. Maybe they needed to see the parts that weren't comfortable. Even tho she was steeped in her religion and its teachings she knew in her heart that she was making the right choice. Life events, which included the cruelest of betrayals, made her see the abortion issue more clearly.
But the most compelling situation of all was this Mormon woman I spent some time with. Her belief was quite black and white about abortion--it was wrong and she would pay for it. But her husband wanted no more kids (they had 5) and though she was deeply saddened and would have sacrificed anything for her kids, including this one that measured a pencil dot, she was going along with it.
"Doesn't this put you in peril?" I asked. I think she was surprised at my question, but it seemed worth pointing out that doing something like this for your guy, when you believed that you were jeopardizing eternity maybe wasn't a good idea. She remained firm in her desire to terminate no matter what I said and she seemed quite willing to bear the consequences.
With women who are in spiritual or emotional distress, but will not be "sent home" I always try to talk about some kind of grieving. I offered her some immediate form of saying goodbye, or honoring this little life, or whatever would make sense to her in her religion. "Baptism" was out, because Mormons don't think children know right from wrong until age 8 when they are finally baptized. She basically wasn't having any quick fixes to make herself feel better.
In fact, comfort (even in the form of good pain medication) was not something she was interested in. Not knowing too much about the Church of the Latter Day Saints I asked how you are supposed to deal with a transgression of this magnitude in the church. She said that several days of prayer were required, and that when you were truly sorry, and sure you would not do it again, you needed to confess to the Bishop. He would then either ex communicate you or "dis-fellow" (I think I have this right) you which meant you could not receive the sacraments of the Church for a prescribed period of time.
Even after it became clear that her pregnancy was not viable (she had a blighted ovum which would not grow--not even a pencil dot) she was clear that she would go to the Bishop and confess, "because she would have done it no matter what..." There was something determined, steely almost, about her thinking on this matter. The Church was her life and she would do whatever was required of her, up to and including losing her Church.
I don't know if this was courage or some need for punishment, but I do know that our talking about it authentically was a good thing for her. It gave her some strength and actually she got through it pretty well, was ok afterwards, and drove herself home over an hour away. The next day we talked and she was still pretty ok, considering the magnitude of the thing she had done in her realm.
She still thinks that she is the only Mormon who has had an abortion, but at least she didn't feel completely alone. That's keeping my faith.