Pagans and Abortion

For the anniversary of Roe v. Wade I wrote a blog for Witches and Pagans about my own experience with abortion.

T. Thorn Coyle said it much more eloquently than I did. She said, “Death and life are inextricably intertwined. To deny a woman’s power over the workings of her own body is to deny her right to foster life itself.”

I am rabidly pro-choice. If you choose to have an abortion, at any stage, for any reason, that is your right. No ifs or buts.

The Pagan community is full of empowered women. But no woman can be empowered when she doesn’t have the right to choose what happens to her body. Being forced to bring a child into this world against one’s wishes is not something anyone should have to go through.

When I see people’s reactions to that original blog, I am profoundly saddened by the same sense of shame and ignorance from our community that you can find in any middle-American Bible Belt town.

We are a community that embraces all forms of love and intimacy. Why are we scared of discussing the validity of abortion?

It’s so important to tell our stories and experiences when it comes to this topic.

When I went to Planned Parenthood, I had to walk through protestors who called me horrible things. I had to be admitted through a locked entryway. I had to talk to a nurse behind bullet proof glass and I couldn’t take anyone back with me, when it came my turn to talk to the doctor, for the safety of the doctors and nurses in the clinic.

Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures there is and yet I was unable to have my abortion in a safe and comfortable environment with the care and support I deserved in a world of modern medicine.

I am not a Christian who believes that abortion will send me to Hell. I am a Pagan woman who knows that I have sovereignty over my entire self.

How can we empower women and not allow them to make this most basic, fundamental decision? I am worried that the Pagan community is losing sight of one of the most important aspects of what we are, a community of powerful women.

I recently had an experience at a local Pagan campground. I ran into a nineteen year old who was incredulous that I, who am almost thirty, didn’t have any children. She had two children, both of whom had already been taken by the state because she couldn’t support them. If this had been someone not raised in Paganism, I wouldn’t have been shocked. But she had been raised Pagan and she was just like every other uneducated, Christian girl I grew up with. When did we start forgetting to teach our daughters about how to care for themselves and their families? Was it when we asked that modestly be a value in our community?

I’ve seen a lot of arguments that state that abortion is against the Wiccan Rede. This infuriates me. The long term harm on a woman who is forced to carry a child to term that she can’t or doesn’t want to care for is much greater than the choice to rid your body of a clump of cells. The consequences of bringing a baby into the world that isn’t wanted has an effect on more than the mother who is forced to do so as well. Want to see the threefold law in effect? Then force that sort of pain into the world.

Our society already has unwanted babies it can’t care for. If you tell me adoption is a great option, I would ask, when did you last adopt a child? If you feel abortion is wrong, yet you do not help in caring for unwanted children, you are a hypocrite.

My only regret? Not being able to find Pagan resources that helped me deal with my anger and grief at having to make that decision.

I created my own ritual for healing that I did without any guidance.

I know of only one Pagan book that discusses abortion, and it was written by someone I don’t trust.

Where is our discussion of abortion in Paganism? Where are our resources? Why are we willing to ignore yet another part of the possibility of a woman’s reproductive life. We have maiden, mother, crone. We have menstrual rituals, birthing rituals, croning rituals: where are our rituals to deal with this choice?

Reading back through this, I know I sound I angry. Well, I am angry.

Angry that this sort of conservatism is encroaching on a community that treasures women’s lives.

The cycles of life and death are sacred. That cycle is reenacted through women’s wombs every month. Abortion is as much a part of that cycle as either pregnancy or bleeding.

I refuse to keep quiet about this particular topic. I refused to be ashamed of making the choice that was right for me. I refuse to give in to those who continue to try and entrap women by controlling their bodies. This is a choice that other woman out there go through everyday.

Abortion is a choice that everyone deserves to be able to have.

I’ll echo T. Thorn once again, because as always, she says it better.

I honor the cycles of life. I honor the cycles of death. I honor my power, as a priestess, to hold out a hand to both. I clasp those hands, bringing life and death together.

I am a priestess who balances life and death together continuously. I celebrate my ability to do so and to accept the pain and fear of hard choices in all aspects of life. Maybe if I do it, someone else won’t have to. Maybe by suffering and offering up my own pain, I can relieve some else’s.

Women’s rights are a battle we are far from winning, but maybe by speaking up and speaking out against the ignorance of others, we will get just a few inches closer.

And I celebrate other women who have made the same choice in the face of overwhelming fear and shame.

I celebrate those fierce warrior woman who stood up in the past to gain us the rights we currently have. I celebrate those women who continue to fight today to maintain them. I celebrate those who have had the courage to walk through the same protestors that I did.

As a priestess, as an independent woman, as a girl who grew up knowing that my choices defined the very core that makes up “me,” I refuse to give in to fear and hate. To do so goes against everything I believe in and everything I stand for.

You don’t have to approve of my own choice, but I would fight for you to be able to make a different one.

Choice is power. Choice is freedom. Choice is ownership over the self.

Without choice, we are nothing.

7 thoughts on “Pagans and Abortion

  1. I am always amazed how the conservative xian right is supposedly “pro life and yet at the same time are pro executions”, just doesn’t make sense to me though the latter is another topic. Let me tell you my abortion story, and i am a guy. In my 20s a condom broke and my gf got pregnant. We both knew we were in no financial or mature state to raise a child alone or together. I went with her to the clinic early in the pregnancy. I sat there with some other guys brave enough to accompany their woman. We both cried when it was over as emotionally it hurt me too. As a witch/magickian i prayed the spirit/soul of the fetus, if there was one in there already, would be reincarnated into the womb of a loving mother. Years later i heard my gf had gotten married and had twins. To this day i think one of those twins held that soul, though i really don’t think souls enter fetuses until much later. Thanks for listening and you are right to be angry. Bullet proof glass, gods…..

    • Lauren says:

      You gf was very lucky to have you with her. I was not so lucky and of course that was part of the decision as well. To this day, that clinic was one of the most depressing places I have ever gone to…the doctors and nurses were wonderful, but the atmosphere was overwhelmingly about shame and fear. I hope that someday others don’t have to go through these experiences, but until that happens, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about them. I am with you, that soul was not meant for me at that time. Maybe it will go to someone else, maybe it will come back to me when I decide it is time to have children. But that moment was not right for either of us and there was no anger at the choice.

  2. Kitty says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am going to have an abortion in a week and am on the emotional rollercoaster from hell. My boyfriend and I don’t have two dimes to rub together and I know that I should get the therapy to deal with my emotional issues before passing them on to an innocent life. Your absolutely right, there are no resources or rituals for this and there should be. I read three pagan articles about this before yours and not a one was uplifting or compassionate at all. What a shame. If you’d be willing I would greatly appreciate if you could share your ritual with me. If it’s too personal I understand. Blessed Be and may the Lord and Lady hold you in the light always.

    • Lauren says:

      Hey Kitty,

      I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. There are other compassionate, intelligent Pagans out there when it comes to abortion issues, we’re just (sadly) harder to find. I didn’t answer you right away because I have been trying to remember everything that I did. This was before I had any formal training or had really begun to write ritual for myself. I think, in part, this was one reason that I decided on a formal training. It made me angry that I had to rely on other people for my ritual needs and while I could and did create a ritual for myself, I knew even at the time, that it was not the best ritual it could have been.

      I gathered everything involved in the process: the positive pregnancy tests, the paperwork from the clinic, (and this is a little gross and possibly a little tmi, but…) all the pads I used afterwards to soak up the bleeding, I saved all of it. I went out to the woods and built a bonfire. I cast circle and I called on the Lady. I usually call on specific deity, but for this I just called on the Goddess. I talked to her about my decision and why it was necessary, and I told her that I wanted to honor the kernal of spirit that I was returning and asked that it be sent to someone who could care and love it that way that a child should be loved and cared for. I honored the gift given, but politely gave it back. I talked to her as a mother about this decision and acknowledged my role in the cycle of life and death and claimed my agency over my body. The decision I had made is one that She makes regularly and understands better than anyone else. And I talked through all my emotions and thoughts on what had happened and what I wanted for the future. And then I burned everything. Just as I returned the spirit, I gave back my blood and my pain. I didn’t have an actual birth, but something had certainly changed in my body and I wanted to remember that. And then I sat there and kept vigil until the fire burned down and waited for the night to pass.

      I hope this helps and that you get through the week safely and healthily. You aren’t the first. You aren’t alone. You’ll be in my thoughts.

  3. Sarah says:

    I am going through this very thing. I came across your blog while searching for some sort of rite I can do to honor the spirit of a child I just cannot carry. It makes me sad that those resources are so limited. That I am struggling to find someone to hold space for me. Your words made me feel a little better. Thank you. Stuff like this will hopefully provide better awareness and tools for the years to come for ladies in need.

  4. licoryce says:

    As I read this I go though my abortion using pills, which is the only way I have to deal with what’s happening in me.

    I am affraid to be dishonoring the Goddess and my lineage thought this choice but I didn’t had another option, I’m homeless, I earn very little and I can’t stand my baby coming to this world surrounded of regret, doubt and fear, if love for them to come in the middle of so much love, food, wisdom and tenderness but to be honest, it can’t be, not now.

    Your words feel me with courage and hope, I don’t know where I go when I die, but… I know where I will be now.

    Thank you my sister.

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