016: A Look at Abortion through a Mormon Lens – Part 1

img-hodson-235x300Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Kristin Hodson regarding her experience as a member of the church who chose to have an abortion in her teens.  This is not meant to be a pro-choice or pro-life discussion.  The purpose of this podcast is to share a personal story in the hopes of reaching other members of our church who have been affected by abortion in one way or another, and offer a supportive and safe space to explore this topic.  Both Kristin and Natasha are concerned that many who make this choice, either for reasons sanctioned by the church or not, end up not feeling comfortable within the church community – with many going inactive.  There is no formal support group within the church which they are aware of, and therefore are concerned that the overall silence which surrounds abortion has harmful taboo implications.

Making this podcast is a huge personal step for Kristin.  Mormon Mental Health wants to respect the courage it takes to to be willing to put herself out in front of public scrutiny in this way.  Therefore, MMH will be very careful in screening incoming comments.  We welcome opposing points of view – however, they need to be written respectfully in order to be published.

Kristin Hodson is a psychotherapist as well as founder and executive director of The Healing Group and co-author of the newly published book Real Intimacy: A Couples Guide for Genuine, Healthy Sexuality.  She has been on the radio, television and contributes regularly to various media outlets.

Other Resources:

exhaleprovoice.org

The Healing Choice: Your Guide to Emotional Recover after an Abortion

If you’re looking for further help, Kristin has offered to take direct email messages at: anemailfromkristin@gmail.com

Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for audio production of this podcast.

7 comments for “016: A Look at Abortion through a Mormon Lens – Part 1

  1. Kate Hindman
    April 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Thank you so much for being brave and sharing your story with the world. I connected to so many elements of your story and hope that other women and men were touched as well. You are so courageous for doing this. <3

  2. Marty Nelson
    May 1, 2013 at 3:12 am

    Natasha, you and Andy were around when Liz was pregnant along with several other singles who treated her great until after the baby was gone and Liz wanted to start being a part of the group, not just the “service activity” for the group. Suddenly she wasn’t good enough to date…she was “used Merchandise”. The LDS returned missionary who promised his love and their future together disappeared when he found out she was pregnant by him. The church had to track him down to sign the papers for his son to be adopted.
    As far as we know, a court was never held for him, but not to much later he is allowed to go off to the temple to marry someone else. Hopefully, one day God will put his feet to the fire! But in the meantime she has gone totally inactive in the church. She is just about to have her divorce finalized soon. She has found a great guy she’s dating. I don’t know if they will ever marry or just live together.

  3. Rachel Jones
    May 5, 2013 at 1:55 am

    Thank you for sharing! I too am a mormon woman who had an abortion in my formative years. I keep meeting others as time goes on, through both trust and randomness. It is unfortunate that we are not able to safely share our experiences in this community, we need each other!

  4. kristin Hodson
    May 23, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Hey Natasha,

    I had someone reach out to me that is from another non-profit that looks like another “woman centered” resource. The website is: http://www.yourbackline.org They have a link to a great 30 minute documentary called “The Abortion Diaries” or you can find it at http://www.Theabortiondiaries.com

    Thanks!
    Kristin

  5. February 25, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Thank you for this podcast and for Kristin’s courage sharing this! I particularly appreciated the sacred experience shared about agency on both sides of the veil. That felt so true to me and I plan to share it. One of my favorite scriptures is Alma 24:27 “. . . thus we see that the Lord worketh in many aways to the salvation of his people.” Kristin’s story is a great example and I’m so grateful she is sharing her story and putting her professional weight now toward helping others. YAY!!! I hope she is able to open the shutters and help more good hearted LDS therapists and leaders share the peace she found in her journey.

    I find myself almost monthly speaking up among circles of friends, some LDS and some not, about not judging women who choose to have an abortion, are sexually active outside of marriage, or decide to keep a child if they are not married and are LDS. Judging gets us nowhere and one never knows who might be silently suffering through your comments. On the other hand, being loving and supportive like our Savior would is what can affect salvific progress in ourselves and others.

    I came to this topic through my early professional life before my family moved to Germany. I am the oldest of ten kids from a devout LDS family who landed in NYC at the United Nations right out of college lobbying for Int’l Right to Life at the World Conference on the Status of Women 2000. I knew next to nothing of real life hardships and choices. I was heckled on sight by hard core pro-abortion women lobbyists just because of my wholesome appearance. I didn’t take it personally, for I felt in that moment by the Spirit that these women had experienced some very hard things I could never imagine and there was real pain there. The second person I met in the pro-family coalition is a now dear friend, Olivia Gans, who had an abortion in college and came from a large Jersey observant Catholic family. Her experience was so similar to what an LDS woman would have experienced. I learned so much from her on how to approach this issue with an open heart for the girl/woman and her family.

    My 8 years at National Right to Life in DC after that summer at the UN was primarily focused on our 50 state affiliates and 3000 local chapters – facilitating local-national educational, legislative, and political action initiatives. I spent a lot of time looking into the church’s positions and policies since I was one of the few Mormons many of my coworkers had ever met and had to defend or explain the Church’s positions, participation, or inaction on certain life issues.

    There really are a huge range of people and motivations who get involved in the “pro-life” issue and many are very unhelpful and downright crazy. I spoke and worked with them all! However, I was so pleased to see so many great people of many faiths initiating supportive ministries and resources for girls and women who find themselves in a very scary, lonely, overwhelming position of unwanted pregnancies or the aftermath of an abortion. There aren’t enough of them out there that honor the woman and her choice, whatever it is. I wished I could see that sort of support for women in our LDS Services without judging the choices they make. During those years I worked at NRLC, the Church came out with the “Adoption: the loving option” campaign and while it was good, I felt bad for those women who felt another choice was to be theirs for whatever reason(s).

    I hope to someday help again at a women’s shelter in a meaningful way. A couple of the recent Eagle Scout projects have collected donations and needed items for our overseas military domestic shelter. I know efforts to get Relief Society sisters organized to volunteer in such efforts are sometimes met with resistance because our lives are so full of personal obligations. But when one feels called, somehow we find the time!

    I apologize for the length of my comment, I just feel this is such an important topic. Thank you!

  6. Rose
    November 16, 2018 at 1:12 am

    I am really grateful that you shared your story of such a difficult experience. I personally know the pain and suffering from having a similar experience as a member of the church. I wish more people in the church could talk openly about this without jugdement or shame. It’s comforting to know your not alone, it’s difficult to heal from something like this when you feel so isolated.

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