By now everyone has already seen that the Supreme Court of the United States has overturned Roe v. Wade. We have seen the outrage and grief of our mothers and sisters and friends who have lost the federal protections that have been in place for the past 50 years. And everyone has their opinion.
I’ve always had a strenuous relationship with the topic of abortion and reproductive rights. I still do. I’ve tried putting them into words before, but it never seems to come out right. So, I’m gonna try once again to share what I believe and why I stand where I do.
I have a good friend who has a beautiful little boy. A child that they never planned to have, nor did they desire to carry it to term. A child that they were forced to have due to decisions that were made for them, against their will. They had been partying and they slept with their significant other. Unbeknownst to them, said person intentionally sabotaged the condom and got them pregnant.
Upon discovering what happened several weeks later, they sought medical assistance to terminate the pregnancy. Due to the laws where they live, it was denied to them. And they were told that if they went out of state, upon their return, legal action would be filed against them. And their family threatened to cut them off. And due to the situation that they were in, they were forced to endure a pregnancy that they did not desire.
They eventually gave birth to a healthy child and made the decision to raise it on their own as a single parent, without the assistance and support of their family or church who shamed them for getting pregnant and then pressured them to give birth anyways. And they struggled with the trauma of childbirth, with carrying an unwanted child to term, with postpartum depression. It’s been almost five years and they still struggle and are very vocal about their decision and the choices that were made for them and what happened, even though they have come to love their child unconditionally.
Unfortunately, not every story ends up this way. Not every person makes it out on the other end.
Many years ago, one of the girls I served with confided in me and asked for my advice after they were assaulted by a family member. Charges were filed and the individual was arrested, but what remained was the pregnancy. She had always desired to have a large family with multiple children, but when she visited the doctors, they told her that the child she carried was not viable, it would never survive. And if she went through with the pregnancy, it would most likely kill her too.
We spent several hours talking about all the options. I provided my opinion, knowing that ultimately it was not going to be my choice. I let her know that no matter what the decision was, I was still going to love her unconditionally.
Ultimately, the pregnancy was terminated. She survived, barely. She was advised that if she were to ever become pregnant again, the stress of bringing a child to term and childbirth would most likely result in her not surviving. If she became pregnant again, the chances of either her or the child living were almost non-existent.
You may be wondering at this point why I shared these stories. Why these two in particular? Well, the simple answer is that both of these amazing individuals have influenced my view on the issue and brought me to where I am today.
If you have followed this blog for a while, you may know by now that I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic Church. I was taught about the sanctity of all life, especially life within the womb. As a high school student, I skipped class to participate in “pro-life” rallies and the March for Life in D.C. I wore shirts that proclaimed “Pray to End Abortion” and “Some Choices Are Wrong.” And I called myself pro-life for many years.
In some ways, I still am. I believe that all life is precious. I believe that every single human being has been made in the image of God. I believe that our Father in heaven knew us before we were created in the womb. And I believe that the miracle of life begins at the moment of conception, even before a heartbeat is formed or air fills the lungs.
As a follower of Christ, I believe, above everything else, I am called to love unconditionally. To fight for those around me. To serve and support, and not to judge. But unconditional love is the foundation of my faith.
While I still consider myself pro-life, I am no longer part of the anti-abortion crowd. Anti-choice.
I believe that in a perfect world, there would be no need for the termination of any pregnancy, but the simple fact is that we live in a world and society that is broken beyond belief. I hope and I pray that one day, nobody would have to make the difficult choice between life and death. But we have a long way to get there.
We have thousands upon thousands of children in our foster care system that need homes now. They are waiting for someone to love them unconditionally.
But it is bigger than the simple fact that there are children needing homes. What about the health and well-being of the women who, in some places in this nation, no longer have a choice and are forced to endure the trauma of pregnancy and childbirth? For someone who does not want or desire to have children, to become a mother, what about their mental health? A lot of people being forced into these difficult situations do not have the support systems in place to deal with the physical and emotional trauma that results.
I have friends who have wanted to become mothers for years who have gone through pregnancies and childbirth and still struggle with the trauma. Some of them years later. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering of those who do not have a choice in the matter.
My faith calls me to treasure life. For me, the miracle of life is something that is beautiful and sacred. All life. Not just the life in the womb.
Unfortunately, as a society we have made this a black and white issue. We have vilified the opposing viewpoint and pushed each other into the extremes. This polarization is counter productive and prevents us from talking and having a conversation like rational individuals. Prevents us from listening to the other side and beginning to understand viewpoints other than our own.
The fall of Roe v. Wade has the potential to cause a lot of harm to many of the individuals that we have been called to love. It has the potential to remove treatment options and vital procedures to sustain life for more than just the women in our lives, but also our non-binary and trans siblings.
The simple fact is that the termination of a pregnancy can be a life saving medical procedure. To deny someone the choice to save their life and force them into a choice that is not their own is not medically sound.
And although I am personally pro-life, I understand that not everyone has the same views as I do. I am politically pro-choice, as I believe that trying to force my own views onto others is not what Christ has called me to do. If I am going to change the world, it is going to be through unconditional love. One life at a time.
As much as I would love to have conversations and convince people about the sanctity of human life, I know that I can only present my viewpoints and plant the seed with unconditional love and if their heart and mind is going to change, it will be through the grace of God.
Trying to force people to believe the same thing I do, through policy change, legislation, and/or shaming, is not showing unending grace or unconditional love. Forcing my beliefs and faith on people is not what Christ has called us to do. So, I choose to approach each conversation with as much openness as possible, to learn differing points of view and to understand where others are coming from.
And even if we don’t agree when we part ways, as long as I have loved unconditionally, the conversation will be a success.