Necessary and impossible: On spiritual questions in relation to early induced abortion
2009 (English)In: Postmodern spirituality: Based on Papers Read at the Symposium on Postmodern Spirituality Held at Åbo, Finland, on 11-13 June 2008, Åbo, Finland: The Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History , 2009, 110-129 p.Chapter in book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
How do Swedish women cope with early induced abortion as a life event? Do spiritual issues have anything to do with women’s psychological and existential wellbeing after an induced abortion? The paper presents material from an on-going empirical study within the psychology of religion exploring experiences and acts that are significant for aborting women. The purpose of the study is not to question the Swedish abortion legislation, but to investigate how individuals deal with existential experiences within a secularized context. The material includes interviews with women going through and personnel working with early abortion. The project works out of a feministic perspective and aims at bringing a partly tabooed question connected to female reproductivity into the scholarly discussion.
Early induced abortion is an incomplicated medical operation, and about every fourth pregnancy in Sweden is ended through abortion. At the same time a young, secularized woman can describe the decision to abort as beyond what ”really can be demanded of a human being”. Current Swedish abortion research shows that the decision often comprises strong and conflicting emotions. For many women it means to go through a period where feelings of pride, desperation, relief, grief and emptiness succeed each other. At the same time abortion is not included among those life events that people normally share and manifest through religious and social rituals and traditions. The consequences of this for women’s existential wellbeing have not yet been studied in international research. The pilot study referred to in this paper is a first attempt to fill this gap.
The results of the study indicate that the need of existential and/or ritual processing is dependent upon the degree to which the abortion decision was experienced as difficult or ambivalent by the woman. When ritualizations of the event occur, they also seem to take different forms depending on how the woman relates to the aborted fetus. Women-centered respectively fetus-centered conceptions and acts are presented from the empirical material. Interesting findings concerning, among other things, reincarnation suggest that due to its existential aspects, early abortion might initiate a spiritual process for some women.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Åbo, Finland: The Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History , 2009. 110-129 p.
abortion, existential needs, ritualization, postmodern spirituality, religious privatization
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-109584ISBN: 978-952-12-2305-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-109584DiVA: diva2:273087