Because abortion is such a polarized and politicized issue, it’s easy for people to forget that abortion is also a loss. If you’ve experienced an abortion, it could have been because you felt pressured to abort; maybe you didn’t know all that abortion entailed. There are so many different circumstances in which a woman experiences abortion.
A recent article shared three critical concepts of early pregnancy loss how to handle disposition. The three concepts are personhood, belonging, and protection. The article expresses the importance for nurses to understand within the context of a woman’s response to loss. At Hurt After Abortion, we find it vital information for women who have experienced abortion as well.
It is a well-known fact that scholars, politicians, authors, philosophers, religious leaders, and others debate when life begins. Yet, approximately 75% of women with an early pregnancy loss felt they lost a baby, according to research (Limbo & Wheeler, 1986). One can assess the issue of personhood by asking the question, “What did you feel you lost?” Inevitably, most women identified their loss as a pregnancy, baby, a baby with a name, or a child who would now be a certain age. Women who perceive the loss of a person, their baby, will be respectful and mindful of the disposition of the body of their lost loved one. It was a person, and it deserves to be honored and memorialized.
One of our fundamental needs as humans is to have a place to belong in this world. When pregnancy brings about the birth of a living baby, parents may cradle the baby in their arms, providing a literal place of safety and love, while continuing to have expectations about this child’s symbolic home in their future lives. With the death of a child, even in very early pregnancy, parents may look for an external way to preserve this “place.” Respectful disposition can provide both a symbolic and literal place for their lost loved one.
Like the concept of place, protection is another basic need of humans, with literal and symbolic meanings. Typically, women see their bodies as offering “protection” to their developing baby. It’s the “Mama Bear” syndrome. The uterus is a safe home, meant to nourish and safeguard their child until a full-term birth. Women even make lifestyle changes when they find out they are pregnant to provide this protection. For example, some stop smoking, drinking, and others start light exercise. Women’s intuition understands that the baby is fragile and defenseless and relies on her for safekeeping and passage into the world. Safe and secure handling of the tissue or fetal remains by the nursing staff extends the idea of protection and may be seen as comforting to women and their families.
Many healthcare providers honor personhood, belonging, and protection through supportive interventions to women experiencing an early pregnancy loss. As we continue our mission of justice and healing for every woman who has experienced loss through abortion, we desire women to be healed on every level, physically, emotionally, and mentally. To find healing and justice, please contact us here.