You posted on facebook something that I've overheard many of my friends say, I've even heard kids say it: If I vote for that woman, I'll be voting for a baby killer. I think that statement is the example of the worlds most incorrect ven diagram. I want to share why. I also noticed that you asked how someone who hopes to stop gun violence and someone who says they've dedicated their lives to helping others would condone such an evil act? Why save the environment if we kill all the babies? And how could someone who says they are a Christian do something as unbiblical as murder? Because killing is murder, let's make a law against abortion. It seems a truly helpful and right viewpoint. That's how I used to think too. Let me tell you why I changed my mind.
I have found an answer for myself that might shed some light on how I can hold these seemingly opposing viewpoints as the same time. Is leaving the choice open for life, the same as condoning murder? Can you be pro-choice and anti-abortion? I am. I once saw a Catholic bumper sticker on Main street in a small town in PA. This bumper sticker changed my life. It said: You can't be pro-choice and anti-abortion. I yelled out, "Yes, I can." I was shaken to my core. I could barely drive home. Let me tell you how I arrived at this point of discovery.
I know this oxymoron is draining away the friendliest of political conversations. First let me say that I once thought the same as you. I grew up Baptist. I was taught to vote Republican. And I was taught that the main reason to vote this way was in order to protect innocent unborn children, an entire future generation. I went to rallies. I protested. I looked up every candidate. If they were against abortion I voted for them. I felt it was my duty as a woman to help protect the future kids of America. If felt that was a primal feminine thing to do. I also believed the rumors I'd heard about the Clintons. I even came to assume that Hillary and her people were really evil people. I remember as a fourteen year old, I cut out a picture of Hillary Clinton helping Mother Teresa up some stairs. I cut it out because I thought it was an oxymoron. I thought that here was pure good and pure evil in the same picture. Wasn't it Mother Teresa who asked the Clintons to change the pro-choice law, "bring all the of them to me"-- she said about unwanted infants.
I still have this picture. Here is one from the same time period pictured in Catholic News Live. Now I see it as a picture of two woman who want to help as many people as possible-- one through Spirit empowered charity for those who were dying in the gutter from disease; one through the law, trying to prevent people from dying in the street without health care. Both woman relied on faith to do the work they felt called to do. Now Hillary is not a saint, but she is fiercely determined to help woman and children, including infants. I'll tell you what changed my mind. Turning the ven diagram on it's head. The abortion law is not about infants.
So if the law is not about infants and yet it allows infants (fetus) to be killed. What is the law about? The law is about control. Now policy makers love to skip over the reasoning and jump to the short clip: the laws about abortion are about choice. They've skipped a few steps. Those of us who don't agree, need to slow down and look at what is in between those two thoughts. What is between those two ideas of control and choice? A great deal. A very great deal. And I believe that is what makes this law so easy to misjudge. Yes, the result of this law could end in death for more than one infant (fetus) because of a mother's choice. This is the the tragedy. However, the result of no choice is what is rarely discussed in politics... it is worse.
Let's follow it through. Let's go to this future where the law that makes abortion illegal is finally resealed. Imagine the celebration. It is so amazing that we finally can do what is "right" and "good." The law is reformed and no infants of any age (in utero) are allowed to be aborted. Good. The biblical sanctity of life and the sensible practical thing (yes it's practical to save life) are now accomplished. But it's not over. The law has saved many people, and the law will continue to save them. But now the law has power over a woman's bodily functions-- especially her right to bear children and over her sexual organs. Once that law is won, new laws could be made to remove more rights. Yes remove. Because the law is not about infants, it is about women. The law has always been to protect our choice, but what if in this case the law is used to remove choice.. what then?
What if the future government decided America had become overpopulated? Since the precedent for control and the precedent for lack of choice had been made into law... Woman could be forced to only have a certain number of children and be forced to abort children. This has happened in other countries. What if the future government decided that America had too many girls? So for the next three years only boy children would be allowed to come full term. The law had precedent for control, precedent for lack of choice by a woman. What if the government decided that all woman should have as many children as possible in order to raise up a great army and the children would be taken at a young age for training. The law had precedent for control of woman's right and choice to bear children so they could move to make such a motion. What if the government chose then who a woman could marry and who she should bear children with in order to create the best genetically sound child? These aren't science fiction. Governments have tried these tactics before. Slavery is one example. Once the freedom of choice is gone, yes the babies we covet are saved, but our democracy is in danger. When democracy is in danger we lose the government that is there to protect people including these future children. We end up with a government that is free to hurt people. Democracy is about choice. I think we forget that it is not the law's job to save children before birth. It is people's job. The law's job has always been to protect rights, that is its main function. People themselves must then take on the role of protecting the unborn.
I know you don't agree. I didn't at first. I thought that it was worth the risk to stay a one issue voter. I thought, Let's keep voting on this one issue vote. If we elect good faithful people they are unlikely to make such dastardly decisions for women, aren't they? I mean this is America right? But how do you judge the character of a policy maker? By their actions. The late Mother Teresa (now a saint) and Hilary Clinton, in that case, have the same goal. They both want to save babies and to save children. One offered to do it by taking them all after they are born. One will do it by protecting the rights of woman from being too controlled by the government to encourage a safer future for women. Protecting woman, getting them health care and food stamps-- Helping them get jobs and equal pay may help protect the next generation from the kind of poverty that leads to abortions.
Those ideas are the first reason I decided that I was anti-abortion and pro-choice. The second reason was the environment. When I was a young newlywed, I had a small income. I bought one roll of toilet paper a week because I couldn't afford a whole pack. I never had money for shopping, but I still paid my 10 percent tithe. My only chance to shop and enjoy myself was this donation to charity. I shopped around like looking for a gold dress. I sometimes chose a charity that gave a free prize. Yes I did. And many of those charities and non profits added me to their mailing lists. Soon I received every green and environmental magazine printed in the US. I was a born again Christian. I loved creation. I loved plants. I lived in a second story apartment with no garden and no flowers and no money. Those pictures of nature were all I had and the hope that someday I might have enough money to go out into Nature. When I read those magazines, and became more familiar over the years with the environmental movement, I came to understand something. No matter what I did my newborn baby was in danger from toxins, cancer, and breathing problems.
Once I read enough by scientists who study our planet's needs, I understood that I could breastfeed my new baby, I could buy her organic cotton sheets, I could stay home with her, I could plan to homeschool her. I could use only earth friendly non toxic products and toys. I could buy her organic local produce to make my own baby food, I could have her baptized as an infant, I could throw her a huge birthday party with homemade cinnamon raison cake with soft home-churned organic butter icing (from local cows). But I could not protect her from toxins. Why? The toxins were already in my breastmilk, in my building, in our air. And they were getting worse. I had to make a decision. Would I remain a one issue voter? I decided it was too huge. I couldn't chose unborn infants over the whole planet. If we saved every child and somehow found homes for them all, and made sure not to imprison any mothers who had miscarriages, who were ill, dying, or needed a medical abortion then what would all those children breathe? How long would they live in a world where every single policy maker I helped elect promised to clog up the earth's air and water with carcinogens? I couldn't vote yes to that. If we save the next generation and kill the planet, it just seemed like creating an environmental future holocaust. I couldn't sign on to that. I wanted to save both. I decided the law was about protecting rights. It could protect my right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. My second reason to change my view point: The law could protect the earth, but people needed to protect infants. The law, in order to stay democratic, would have to protect the right of choice.
The third reason I could no longer be anti-choice about abortion was going through my own pregnancies. Would I ever have an abortion in any situation? No. I don't think so. Going through pregnancy taught me something about the rights of women and the suffering. I was so sick I had to quit work. I couldn't continue teaching oil painting and the paint was toxic to children both in the womb and without. We didn't have enough money to support a child. My spouse seemed unstable-- if not emotionally abusive then seriously immature. I lived a long way from family. I was in constant turmoil. My mind, body, and health were stretched to the limit. Finding money for maternity clothes was impossible. My spouse kept a job he hated for the insurance so we could pay for the birth. Even so, the small copay took me over a year to pay off. Both my pregnancies were c-sections despite risking my life to prove I could avoid the procedure. My third pregnancy was a miscarriage. I found out afterwards that 1 in four pregnancies are miscarriages. I wish I had known. (All the woman I knew told me they too had experienced miscarriages. Some of them many times. Much of the environmental news I read suggested this high rate could be do to pollutants.) After my first baby was born, I couldn't find work that would pay enough for me to afford childcare even with my college degree. I remember taking my baby in the car-seat to clean houses. When she started crawling, she helped me clean the kitchen floor with a towel. When she started walking, I was let go.
Once I experienced pregnancy, birth, and motherhood for myself. I knew that I could not ask someone to be forced into motherhood against their will. To be sick for a year. To lose a job. To be frightened and alone. To be poor and desperate. I could never ask another woman to be forced into that position without it being her choice. What if she were a teen or even younger girl? What if she were very sick? What if she had been raped or lived with an abuser. Did I want this girl I imagined to have an abortion? No. Did I think she needed to in those cases? Absolutely not. There were other options. But what I wanted her to have was the power of her own choice. The only reason I made it through those hard times was because I wanted a child so badly. That choice gave me strength. I can't imagine going through that same situation without a choice. With no alternative. I would have despaired of living. Life without choice is no life. Democracy without choice is not democratic.
In this case, yes it is tricky. It looks like no one is allowed to murder in America except mothers. But this is not true. That is not the summary of laws that protect choice. We need to understand the law better and it's purpose. The law does not cause murder. It gives mothers' freedom to choose life. This is one case where the freedom of choice is needed for the health of mothers. Choice gives us strength and hope. Do I want my friends to stop standing by the abortion clinics every week? Stop talking mothers' out of the wrong decision? No! Out there in your peaceful protest something good happens. There on the sidewalk you have built a relationship with a sister. You have made humanity work, democracy work. You have met your neighbor and loved her. Offered her education, offered her help. If you take away woman's choice over her body, then everyone will go inside. We will sit behind closed doors and that pregnant woman will be alone with no where to go, no education on how to find help, no hope and no freedom to get the strength to rise up and be the mother she truly wants to be.
If you do not reconsider for my reasons. You may have some of your own. Being a one issue voter can have serious repercussions. I think if we look to the Bill of Rights and its focus on protecting choices we can better understand the double edged sword of this law. Choice is dangerous, but it the building block to freedom.