The majority of women who have had abortions are religious and a talkline caller will often speak of her relationship with God, her church and her faith. For many callers, their faith can serve as a source of strength in a time of need while others may have difficulty reconciling their faith with their abortions. Talking with a woman about her religious and spiritual beliefs is a critical part of the work of an Exhale volunteer counselor.
Darcy Baxter is uniquely positioned for this responsibility.
An Exhale volunteer counselor and fourth-year seminarian at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California, Darcy understands the role God, spirituality and religion can play in a woman’s abortion story. Featured in a recent blog post, “Spiritual Dilemmas and the Right to Choice,” by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregants , Darcy talks about her role as a counselor with women who have had abortions:
When women she’s counseled would bring up issues about God in their conversations, Baxter said she would try and remind them, “God knows that life is hard, and God knows our hearts, and that we need to make hard decisions. And, if we are making this decision for the right reasons, God knows that too.
“There is this moment, when you talk with women about abortion, where the guilt and the shame can lift a little and these women can focus on being a good mother to the other children they want to care for and feel equipped to care for. And you can see the shift in energy and in the conversation, when the women realize that they are doing a hard but right, and even good, thing.”
Is it ever easy? Baxter said, “No, never easy, but I would say that there are a number of circumstances where it becomes clear what needs to happen. But never easy. The circumstances, when you have an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, are not easy. Women have the power to create and nourish life. And that kind of power can be unsettling.”
For more information on supporting religious and spiritual women who have abortions, please visit Faith Aloud.
Watch Faith Aloud’s clergy video for women who have had abortions: