Exhale: A Different Approach to Post Abortion Counseling

Exhale. To expel. To emerge. To breathe. 

On a recent podcast by Fully Engaged Feminism, Laura interviews one of the founders of Exhale, an organization dedicated to post abortion counseling. The group’s mission doesn’t stem from polarized politics nor is their plight a guise for other intentions. Simply, it’s to give voice, to give heart, and to give a listening ear. They consider themselves Pro-Voice.

Aspen Baker briefly chronicles her experience post abortion. She found few counseling options, and those that did exist were tied to Christian organizations, which also were Pro-Life. At the other end of the spectrum was a feminist movement more concerned with establishing reproductive rights than providing outreach to women. Neither side seemed suitable to help her with the torrid of thoughts and emotions that consumed her, and because of that, she found several other women in the same position and decided to create a space where women and men could have an outlet to discuss life after the choice.

Aspen’s feelings may be misinterpreted by a biased eye, regardless of political affiliation. Imagine being a woman entering a medical center who has mulled over this decision, the choices, the variables in her life. Analyzing every minute detail, every scenario, and no matter the final decision, there is no concrete conclusion, no definitive closure regardless of the choice made. Each option entails a path of emotional and psychological effects, of some form of struggle or sacrifice. In the particular choice of abortion, it is quite common for a woman to walk the premises with a number of abortion protestors mere feet away. Voices calling that she can still be saved, it isn’t too late for the soul. They hold signs with images of fetuses, words succinct but sharp: immoral, hell, death, murder. Is this the Christian death row? To call each woman out as murderer? What stone do they have the right to cast? 

Then it is these same people, these same beliefs, that stand at the exit with sudden open arms. They speak of trauma, of sin, of forgiveness. These words of compassion coming from the same people that spewed vicious slurs. It isn’t a welcoming feeling for many women who have had an abortion. Something seems innately off, wrong, about the two -faced act. But often times, it is only these groups that offer any form of counseling, whether or not their political and religious intentions are made clear, if it is the only option, then some women would rather have a biased shoulder to lean on than none at all.

On the other side are groups who have fought for the reproductive freedom of women, and sometimes associate the vocalizing of post abortion effects as siding with Pro-Life attributes. The focus has been on establishing the law, but the voices and stories that catalyzed the revolution have gone mute. Unheard by many ears of the feminist movement because any sign of emotion signifies the opposite of their purpose, of their vision, of what they represent and are striving to achieve. 

Sometimes gray is the worst place to be, stuck in shades of white and black, and all there is is a fog. These are many women, no side hears their voice, their stories. Either there is no respect of the choice made or no respect for the feelings and thoughts that come later. So, Exhale was created as a space to remedy that void. To exist in the gray with those women, taking no political side but as they call, Pro-Voice. Let these women be heard. It isn’t about law, or right or wrong, or saving face. It is a sacred space of experience. 

In the end, there are no parties, no sides, no politics. At heart is the voice of a woman that many ears are deaf to. Listen and you will hear…

Am I not your sister? Your mother? Your daughter? 

Do not forsake love that binds. Do you not see how my heart weeps? 

Love. Please, oh please, just love me. I need compassion and a comforting embrace. 

Do not wipe away these tears. They are the words of my soul.

No judgement calls. I am no murderer.

Look into these eyes and you will see.

Am I not your sister? Your mother? Your daughter?

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This entry was published on July 28, 2009 at 3:30 am. It’s filed under Politics, Psychology, Society, Women and Gender Issues and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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