Pro Life AND Pro Choice — It’s not binary.
As a Christian, I believe in the sanctity of life. I believe that all life is a gift from God. All life is created and known by God.
As a bereaved mother who has an invisible child through miscarriage, you cannot tell me that the fetus I carried is not a person.
As a mother of beautiful 1 month old baby girl, it pains me to know that if she were in utero it would be legal to kill her if I so desired.
Yet, it’s not the place of the state to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. If you don’t want abortions to occur, criminalizing pregnant women and health care workers isn’t the solution.
I believe in an omnipresent, omnipotent, benevolent God who gives me every good and perfect gift. I hold the perspective that everything I have, whether it’s a home, career, assets, and even my children are given to me rather than something I’ve earned with the strength of my own arm. With gladness and humility, I accept these gifts. With sorrow and suffering, I also accept when they are taken away. I trust that God celebrates my moments of joy and comforts every moment of pain. This is my faith. This is my belief.
And I have full respect for those who do not share my beliefs. I don’t expect others to believe what I do. I don’t expect others to make the same decisions as I do, because their decisions are based on their beliefs, experiences, and narrative. Therefore, it’s completely logical that we come out at different ends of this discussion and that’s acceptable.
In another post, I wrote about the need to include miscarriage within feminist culture: My Problem with Feminist Culture. When I was grieving my daughter’s death and recovering from miscarriage, I came across this memoir by Alexandra Kimball ‘Unpregnant: the silent, secret grief of miscarriage’. Kimball, a feminist like myself, wrote about how the fight for choice silenced the cries of bereaved mothers who miscarried.
“The more I considered it, the more I became convinced that the silence around miscarriage was connected to feminism’s work around abortion. How could I grieve a thing that didn’t exist? If a fetus is not meaningfully alive, if it is just a collection of cells — the cornerstone claim of the pro-choice movement — what does it mean to miscarry one? Admitting my grief meant seeing myself as a bereft mother, and my fetus as a dead child — which meant adopting exactly the language that the [pro-life] movement uses to claim abortion is murder.”
When we take a side against something, we take on language that is offensive and defensive all at the same time. We resort to name-calling. We diminish babies to fetuses and then further to ‘a bunch of cells’ in order to justify our choices. When we remove personhood, similar to what women, Jews and blacks have endured, humans are capable of atrocities. When we antagonize the other side, we can’t empathize. We can’t listen.
Yes, to fight injustice we ought to be outraged, but we need not be outraged by babies themselves, whether they are wanted or unwanted. Many in the pro-choice movement have reduced babies to “just a bunch of cells” and demonized the unborn as an inconvenience. Your anger is rightly expressed when geared towards those in power who criminalize the choice of women, especially when those in power have traditionally oppressed others, cannot experience pregnancy nor take responsibility of child rearing thereafter.
Yes, women should have the choice about what she wants to do with her body and if it’s to abort a child, then she should be free to do so. Yet, health care professionals should also have the choice whether or not they would perform the abortion, too. Indeed, there are some that would and some that would not and to each their own, right? Why do we keep expecting others to hold the same beliefs as ourselves?
Abortion bans won’t prevent abortions from happening. Prohibition didn’t stop people from drinking. Illegal drugs are made more desirable when its harder to come by.
Those truly pro-life should provide sufficient care and support so that pregnancy and caring for a baby is not a burden. We need to build villages of communities because that’s what every mother needs in order to even consider raising a child. We need to not judge or shame when a woman needs help. We need to raise boys to become men that love and respect women, not rape and take what is not theirs. We also need to care for ALL of life, not just babies.
This means the living plants and nature in our rapidly declining environment, black lives, Muslim lives, Jewish lives, refugee lives, immigrant lives, LGBTQ lives, animal lives and more…
Really, we ought to be unconditionally loving, vegan, environmentalists.
Those truly pro-choice should know and understand, to the best of our ability, the magnitude and repercussions of the decisions we make. We can’t distance ourselves in order be willfully ignorant of the harm we may be causing another person. We need to accept that medical workers have the freedom of choice, too.
The missing voice here is that of the unborn child. In all of this, the unborn has no say — no choice to make. They don’t get to raise their hand to say they want to live. If I am commissioned to defend the weak and fatherless, uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed [Psalm 82:3], and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves [Proverbs 31:8], I must relinquish my own rights as a woman to advocate for those even more vulnerable than me.
Abortion bans aren’t the answer. Pro-life legislators should spend more time and energy propagating these things:
- Universal health care — If it costs over $30,000 (if there are 0 complications) to have a child without insurance in USA, this is an undue burden and hardship on a mother/family. For sheer economic reasons, an abortion is a far more logical route to ensure self preservation in the long run.
- Maternity & paternity leave — Women risk major set-backs in their careers or risk losing their jobs completely when they get pregnant. Even for women who give birth and return to the workforce immediately, their income does not recover due to concessions they make in order to raise their child. Better maternity leave policies mandated and supplemented by the government, not just by individual employers would equip women to have babies while contributing to the workforce. Further, paternity leave allow women to stay at work when the burden of child rearing is shared by the father.
- Affordable childcare — It is a struggle to find childcare and family networks are not geographically close or even existent as it may have been generations ago. Alongside maternity leave, there needs to be universal affordable childcare. If it’s so expensive to take care of a child, abortion is a more desirable option.
- Supportive social capital — Every pregnancy, wanted or unwanted, is extremely difficult physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Every woman needs extra care and attention in this season. When a woman feels safe and supported, she is more likely to even consider keeping an unplanned child. Provide support and generous care at every step of a woman’s pregnancy, post-partum, and childcare.
- Male contraception — Research and clinical trials for male contraception needs to be funded. As many have stated, “100% of unwanted pregnancies are caused by men.” The onus of pregnancy is on women and it’s unjust that women carry the heavy burden of protecting themselves sexually. Women face the invasive procedures, side-effects, and physical and mental pains of contraception whatever form it may come in. There NEEDS to be a male contraception other than condoms. I don’t care if it’s a shot in the scrotum, a pill, or rod in the arm, or an inflatable ring. Stop being sissies and finish a clinical trial rather than citing side effects of minor pain and halting research. Better access to contraception and supplementing the costs will also help prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
- Fund research for women’s healthcare — As Amy Schumer puts it bluntly, money needs to go to more and better research for women’s health like hyperemesis, endometriosis, pregnancy, et al “instead of dicks not getting hard enough or old guys who want harder dicks.” I would add that more funding needs to be put into better facilities and amenities in hospitals for women’s units and inventive tech that provide better comfort and dignity to women throughout the pregnancy, labour, delivery, and postpartum process.
Abortion ban is not the answer. Criminalizing women and healthcare professionals is not the answer. Oppressing women’s choices only make the world an even more dangerous place for women than it already is. All in all, there are SO many things to advocate for.