Q&A With Alan Hamm, Pro-Choice Chaplain and Crisis Counselor

Alan Hamm, M. Div., has spent the past decade or so as a chaplain and crisis counselor.  He has worked as a counselor at a hospital trauma center and a rape crisis center.  He can be reached at alanthechaplain@gmail.com.
Q: So, Alan, you are a chaplain/crisis counselor and pro-choice.  How did you come to that stance?
A:  Frankly, my experiences as a counselor with women in the settings of the hospital and the rape crisis center were what helped me to understand that abortion is a necessity in many cases and that abortion rights should be protected in the U.S.  When you hear the stories of women who do not want to bear their rapists’ children or young girls (as young as 10!) who were molested by their father, grandfather or uncle and impregnated by them, you understand that these women need to have the choice to do what is necessary to live their lives as trauma-free as possible.
Q:  Have you ever met with someone who regretted an abortion?
A:  Oh, sure, but I have also met with women who regretted not having an abortion.  I can’t get into specifics due to confidentiality but I remember meeting with a woman who could not bear to look at her growing son because every day he looked more and more like her rapist.  She was disgusted by him but felt guilty for being so disgusted.  It is a choice not to be taken lightly but I think that there should be a choice so that women do not have to face these impossible situations and feel like they are being forced into a particular decision by society.
Q: How does your faith inform your belief in the right to have an abortion?

A:  Abortion is a complex issue and should be treated as such.  I have grappled with this issue theologically and philosophically as have so many others.  Ultimately, it is compassion that informs my belief in the right to choose because abortion is often a necessity.  None of the doctors, nurses or patients I met who were involved in these procedures made their decisions lightly and all were up front about the risks and benefits of abortion and supported their patients no matter what choice was made.  I think as a society we wish that we could live in a world where everything has an easy answer and you just have to be on the “good” side to live a godly life.  The reality, however, is that life is full of difficult choices and a lot of gray zones where we use our minds and hearts to navigate through these troublesome issues.  I’m certain that the Supreme Court justices involved in Roe V. Wade gave the matter careful consideration and, informed by their ethics and their faiths, made the decision to legalize abortion

Q:  Many anti-choice people cite religion as a reason to restrict abortion access or make it illegal; how would you respond to that?

I respond the same way that I respond when people try to curtail the rights of anyone because of their belief system which is that I encourage them to look at the issue through a different lens.  It is easy to condemn someone when we don’t know their struggles and the difficulties they have had to endure.  It is easy for those not faced with these tough decisions to simplify matters to “black or white” theology.  Even the staunchest anti-choice people I have met would agree to an abortion if a pregnant woman’s life is endangered.  It is a difficult choice but a necessary choice, just as any of the choices regarding having an abortion.

Q: How do you think your counseling has impacted or helped women who are considering or have had an abortion?

I hope it has helped.  My goal is to let people know that God (in whatever way they relate to God) loves them and that they are not alone in this.  I do this because I know there are going to be those that judge them for the choice they made or will tell them they are going to hell or that this was all their fault.  This is not how I chose to counsel, because one of the main tenets of Christianity is to be non-judgmental and Jesus, according to the Gospels, got in trouble specifically because he fraternized with people who others were judging as “less-than”.

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