Abortion affects people of all faiths and cultures and as abortion healing providers, it is important to understand the different ways that those faiths and cultures can affect someone in need of healing. This Support After Abortion webinar brings together six different representatives from various faith – and no faith- backgrounds to talk about how they view abortion and how people from similar backgrounds may feel about their own abortion experiences. Many after abortion healing programs are Christian-focused and research from Support After Abortion shows that only a very small percentage of people who have experienced abortion are looking for that kind of healing program. This webinar will help after abortion providers learn to meet their clients where they are.
Meeting Clients Where They Are: Learning to Serve Clients from a Multitude of Culture and Faith Traditions
Nearly one million abortions happen every year and each woman and man who experiences abortion comes from a different background, culture, or faith. As abortion healing providers, it is crucial to be mindful of this as we construct healing programs and offer them to those who need it.
Support After Abortion’s research shows that only a very small percentage of people (16% of women and 40% of men) who have experienced abortion are looking for religious-based healing resources, yet this is what most abortion healing programs are based upon. To meet hurting women and men where they are, we must understand what they need, where they come from, and how best to serve them.
Lisa Rowe, the CEO of Support After Abortion, asks both viewers and participants to remember that “there’s a difference between healing and evangelization. Spirituality can support the healing journey but it’s not necessary to start the healing journey.”
In this webinar, Support After Abortion brings together six people from vastly different backgrounds and faiths to discuss how they view abortion, what their faith or culture believes about abortion, and really how best to reach those in their own communities who need healing after abortion.
Finding Common Ground
This webinar has participants from various backgrounds: secular, Catholic, Evangelical, Non-Denominational, Jewish, and Islam. Yet they all agreed on several aspects:
- Abortion harms both women and men
- Anyone who is in need of healing from abortion should be able to access it
- That abortion takes innocent life
- That acknowledgement of reproductive loss is important in the healing process
Abortion Views in Different Cultures
Monica Synder is the Executive Director of Secular Pro-Life. She revealed that, in her experience, the vast majority of atheists are not pro-life but that those who do have an abortion experience and want healing have a very difficult time finding resources because they often cannot access the kinds of faith-focused aspects of many healing programs. As the director of a pro-life organization, she certainly recognizes the harm that abortion has on women and values the work that Support After Abortion has done to create secular healing resources that enable people of any – or no – religion to access healing.
In the Jewish faith tradition, Cecily Routman with the Jewish Pro-Life Federation, has found that while abortion is generally accepted among Jewish faith, it can be confusing for women and men who have abortion experiences and feel immense grief afterwards. She said they often experience disenfranchised grief and cognitive dissonance because they often are told that abortion can be virtuous., yet their faith tradition was the first one that prohibited child sacrifice. Cecily believes every life is precious and has found that healing programs with a specific Jewish thread are very helpful when reaching Jews who have experienced abortion and are in search of healing.
Pastor Lisa Connors brings to light her own abortion experience and how many Black women feel like they don’t have anyone to go to with their own experiences. Through her own transparency and honesty, she has been able to reach those in her own community with healing resources who feel like they have no voice.
In the Catholic faith tradition, Deacon Michael Thompson explained that Catholics are taught that life begins from conception and that abortion is a grave matter. Catholics who experience abortion may feel extreme guilt but they must know that God is loving and merciful and wants to be reconciled to them.
Pastor Tony Plumber represented the Evangelical Protestant or Evangelical position in the webinar, explaining that those in this faith tradition adhere to the Bible and their very lives often revolve around it. Like the Catholic faith tradition, Pastor Plumber said Evangelicals also believe life begins at conception. One thing he brought to light is that while Evangelicals usually have a deep knowledge of Scripture, it is important to be transformed by the love of Jesus through the Scriptures, going beyond that knowledge to a transformation of the heart. This is often put into practice through pregnancy centers whose mission it is to show the love of Jesus to anyone who walks through their door in need.
Dr. Rehan Khan is a physician medical professional who comes from the Muslim faith tradition. He explained that abortion has not been openly discussed in the different Muslim communities he has been a part of yet in that particular faith tradition, abortion is allowed if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, if the baby will cause hardship amongst the parents, and in cases of rape.
Throughout the discussion, every faith/non-faith leader gave important details about their own traditions, how abortion is handled and discussed, and even how grief can be managed with or without faith.
Some of the biggest takeaways from the webinar are:
- Listening to clients is of utmost importance when working in healing ministries.
- Many clients are not looking for religious faith-based healing resources so secular resources these must need to be readily available.
- Learning about different cultural nuances is important in understanding why a client may feel the way he/she does.
- Culture and past trauma – including historical and generational trauma – can play a big part in why someone is not willing or able to face their healing journey head on. Being a support system could help lead them to the right healing resources when they are ready.