Vulnerable. Adjective. Able to be easily hurt, influenced, or attacked. -Cambridge Dictionary
People often wonder what it means when we say a client is “abortion vulnerable” as opposed to planning to abort or planning to carry to term. Literally it means that abortion is one of the options they are considering or their circumstances are precarious in ways that leave them easily influenced towards abortion. Often this takes the form of others in their life encouraging them to abort; an apparent lack of important resources needed to parent; and/or facing great potential loss or consequences once others are aware of their pregnancy. Practically speaking, this couple’s story shared by our Men’s Program Coordinator, Aaron Bullock, illustrates the impact abortion vulnerability has on our work every day.
Have you ever been in a conversation with an individual that you thought you knew for sure where it was going and suddenly with one comment you are heading in totally the opposite direction? This was the case with a client named Daniel. Daniel came into the office well dressed, clean cut, and with a smile on his face. Immediately he began to share with me that his girlfriend needed a referral for prenatal care because they were having difficulty with her international insurance. He talked about his faith as a devout Catholic, his future in the military, and ultimately wanting to pursue a career with Homeland Security. With one breath he was sharing with me his vision of being a husband and a father, and with the next breath (as if instantaneously reality set in) stated, “I’m not sure we can have this baby; this will be a real hardship on both of us right now.” Daniel’s countenance immediately changed. He went from a state of confidence to a scared young boy. And if I am completely honest, my countenance changed as well. I had been sure that we were discussing parenting when suddenly he revealed to me that his girlfriend was completely undecided about the pregnancy. He did not like the idea of abortion but was not sure he knew how to or even wanted to convince her to have the baby. Daniel went on to explain that his girlfriend was hiding the fact that she was pregnant from her parents because she was afraid that they would force her to withdraw from school and return to Vietnam. He also explained that they were both students and that having a baby right now could interfere with his current military contract.
I had casually been chatting with this client getting to know him, and just like that the conversation had turned serious. I put on the brakes and immediately shifted gears. I grabbed on to some of the content he had shared earlier and helped him verbalize his true feelings about abortion. And then I equipped him with some language to communicate with his girlfriend about how he really felt. The ultrasound was impactful, but they were still undecided when they left the Assurance office. I wanted to be hopeful, but after having the wrong impression during the first session I was a little leery. Three weeks later Daniel returned my phone call and explained that they had chosen to parent and had been receiving prenatal care. I exhaled. They were grateful for our encouragement and support.
Daniel’s confidence is intact and his future is still bright. But what if they had not come to Assurance? What if the Holy Spirit hadn’t prompted me to dig a little deeper? I exhale. I can breathe a little easier knowing that the truth prevailed. Praise God!