Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Kelly McDonnell, Ph.D.
Mary Z. Anderson, Ph.D.
Dukhae Sung, Ph.D.
Abortion, Christianity, meaning making, self-disclosure, self-forgiveness, social support
Whether or not a woman should have an abortion is a hotly debated topic, and little information is known about how women make sense of their abortion experiences. Even less is known about how women make sense of abortion experiences in the context of their religious or spiritual belief system. This qualitative study explores the phenomenon of how women who have had an abortion make meaning of their abortion experience in the context of their Christian identity. This phenomenon was explored via research questions related to a woman’s experience of having both an abortion history and a Christian identity, how women who have had an abortion make meaning of their abortion history within the context of their Christian identity, and how women make meaning of their abortion history while attending a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. Nine Christian women, who were recruited from faith-based retreats for women who had an abortion, were interviewed regarding their spirituality, their experiences making sense of their abortion within the context of their Christian identities, and their experiences while on retreat. Participants completed demographic questionnaires and participated in semi-structured interviews, which were analyzed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Key findings indicate that meaning making was a dynamic experience that changed over time, that participants’ abortion experiences were often painful and regrettable, and that there was a prevalence of abortion stigma in their experiences. Participants discussed the importance of forgiveness and destigmatization, the impact of self-disclosure, and the influence of social support. Participants also reflected on their personal spiritualities and the ways in which their attendance at a retreat was meaningful. The researcher discusses the roles that cognitive dissonance, stigma, spirituality, religious beliefs, self-disclosure, and social support had in the participants’ making sense of their abortion experiences. The researcher reflects on her personal experiences of the research, implications for counseling psychologists, limitations of the current study, and directions for future research.
Stocker, Anne E., "A Phenomenological Investigation of the Meaning Making Experiences of Christian Women Who had an Abortion" (2023). Dissertations. 4046.