One of the main reasons people participate in faith communities is the love, support and friendship we find there. Those relationships often sustain us through some of life’s toughest challenges. But for people who make the decision to terminate a pregnancy, church might be the last place they can access support.
Over the past five decades since the 1967 Abortion Act has been in force in Britain, over a thousand women travelled to England every year, totalling around 65,000 women and pregnant people. For over 50 years these folks have been quietly making that journey, with more in recent years having used abortion pills bought online in the privacy of their own homes. Most of them also have at least one family member or close friend who supported them. We attend your places of worship, break bread with you and we serve the community together. Abortion is not an issue that sits outside the church and it is only through maintaining a culture of silence and shame that we have allowed that myth to persist.
When faith leaders don’t talk about abortion or publicly support anti-choice campaigns, they might not feel like safe people for those who need emotional or spiritual help with reproductive choices. For this reason, many pastors have little to no experience of actually providing pastoral support to women and families with abortion experience. While many women and pregnant people report feeling relieved as the main emotion after an abortion and long term studies show that feelings of regret over the decision are extremely rare, it is a life experience that can bring up lots of difficult emotions. Internalised stigma from religious doctrine can play a part in making it difficult for people of faith, but in addition, letting go of a pregnancy can bring up the same feelings of grief that come with any type of pregnancy loss.
FVRJ members are committed to providing emotional and spiritual support to people with abortion experience or those facing difficult pregnancy choices and have taken the following actions:
Image credit: Faith Aloud
We have also produced a short flyer for anyone making pregnancy choices. We hope that it breaks the silence and allows people to read a non-judgmental approach that affirms them in whatever choice they make. Please get in touch if you would like printed copies to make available in your setting