Abortion & Alabama- Your Silence Will Not Save You

Abortion & Alabama- Your Silence Will Not Save You May 16, 2019
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Most of us avoid the confrontation of discussing abortion. Most of us are silent when it comes to speaking out against what is wrong, let alone speaking up for what is right. But given the climate and the horrific changes our country has witnessed, we must remind ourselves that our silence will not save us. Not this time, not ever.

It’s Hard for a Woman

This week has been a hard week to face, as a woman- especially if you live in Alabama and heard the news delivered that abortion would be all but banned.  I have all sorts of feelings about it and I had even considered not writing about either my feelings or the obvious attack on women. But silence never did anybody any good when it comes to injustice and oppression.

Alabama’s decision to remove agency from a woman is all the more reason to get on our megaphones.

For the men who “get it” and honorably take the stand that a man has no say or power over a woman’s body in any regard; I applaud you and thank you for your solidarity.

For the men who insist that we must legislate morality; especially the men who clutch to their Bibles and insist that God “Himself” would condone such legislation; I say to you, sit down and shut up. (I’ll get back to this.)

Men are Not gods

I would like to remind these men that while God did institute moral laws (somewhere over 600 to start); God then reduced the laws to 10, only to finally rest at two. Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Why? Because even God knew that any attempt to legislate morality would only provide humankind with a proverbial red button.

Yet men- or rather, 25 elected patriarchal patent-holding, permit-keepers; decided that it was up to them to introduce and vote on one of the most destructive bills, that both their state and their country would be harmed by. Do they believe themselves to be gods, or do they believe themselves to be more powerful than God?

(For more on understanding the programming of the patriarchy, check this out)

Understanding

“Sit down, shut up!” seems rather harsh to say to those who claim their aim is only directed at protecting the sanctity of life- the unborn life that has no choice. I understand the point of view but that doesn’t mean I have to accept it.

Perhaps that’s where we shall begin by defining what “understanding” means, and what “acceptance” means; especially if it reduces the chance that one will be confused as meaning the other.

One of the best definitions of “understanding”, that I have come across, was introduced to me through Say What You Mean, by Oren Jay Sofer. In this book, which takes readers on a “mindful approach to nonviolent communication”; Sofer offers that understanding means “to stand beneath”. He writes: “To comprehend anything, we need to put aside our preconceived ideas and be open to new ways of seeing.”

To understand means that I see where you are coming from and know (a little more than before) why you believe and value what you do.

Acceptance is a Choice

This then brings me to acceptance. I can fully understand where you are coming from, but that doesn’t mean I accept it at all. But let me reiterate further by adding that, when I say I don’t have to accept it; I mean I don’t have to receive what you are giving me as “the way things ought to be”.

I don’t mean that I don’t accept your views as valid or worthy- or as your own truth; rather, I don’t accept that as a way to resolve anything. Nor will I accept it as a functional application that I should subscribe to.

Last year, I happened upon a quote that stated: “In order to accept someone, we must first understand them.” I take that as to mean, before we fully reject a view or an opinion- or a person- altogether; we must first be cognizant of where they are coming from.

Conflict Avoidance & Competitive Confrontation

Most people won’t take this necessary leap because our default strategies include conflict avoidance with competitive confrontation. We don’t really want to get too invested in an actual conversation that may lead to connection because that could mean: we are weak, unsure, ignorant, gullible, wrong.

Yet, we lean on competitive confrontation as a distraction from getting deep. We pull away from the invitation to awareness by rejecting follow-up questions, thereby actually creating conflict- despite our attempts to avoid it.

However, once I understand you; I do have a right to receive or refuse. I don’t have to accept you even if I understand you. I am now in a position to make a more educated decision- a decision to either agree or disagree with you.

Now that we have defined terms, we can embark on the focus of this piece and you will understand the need to define terms.

Children are not Oppressed

I can fully understand the anti-choice side of our country that claims their only concern is that of a commitment to God in protecting the rights of “the least of these”. But I must push back and remind you- society has never really told us that children are “the least of these”- at least not in our lifetimes.

Children are revered, protected, educated, fed, clothed, sheltered, housed, and welcomed and celebrated by our society. We spend billions of dollars on birthday parties every year for our children.

Jesus wasn’t talking about the children when he spoke of the least of these. Jesus was talking about…WOMEN, for one, and more importantly, women of color, for two. Jesus was also speaking on behalf of the lower income collectives- those of which have been labeled as “not enough” by societal standards.

Of course, this does not mean that Jesus didn’t value children. I know you feel obligated to travel down such an argument, but it’s not necessary. I am a mother as well. I value my children’s lives. I also valued the choice I was given when I chose abortion once before.

Which Life has More Value?

The claim that an actual life is on the line is backed by scientific inquiry and data that demonstrates a heartbeat equals life. What about the heartbeat of a woman? Is that not enough of a demonstration that her life matters as well as her choice?

Is a six-week old fetus cognitively aware of itself as an actual person? I would argue not. If a woman is pregnant and wishes to abort, her life no longer constitutes as an autonomous being? How does an non-viable life gain superiority over a living life that is cognizant and aware of choice?

Sure, you can say that seems like a rather crass way to put it, but try this on for size: when a child (or an adult) is labeled mentally incompetent; they no longer have the ability to make decisions or choices for themselves. We award such people to the state, to be supervised in facilities. What happens when that isn’t what they want? Why do they no longer have choice? Is it because they are not coherently aware of what choice is?

What lessens one of us, lessens all of us.

What Do You Trust Women With, if Not Choice?

Where does it end? Alabama doesn’t consider a woman’s agency over her own body even if she is raped. Further, the sentence for performing an abortion is vastly longer than say for instance, rape of a woman is. Doesn’t this clearly demonstrate that women are not considered autonomous beings capable of choice, but rather simply containers or vessels; only worthy of producing life, but not existing with choice in their own life?

A commentator for Daily Blast Live, posed a rather provocative question we should all ask ourselves:

If you don’t trust me with a choice over my own body, how can you trust me with a child?

I am allowed the option to raise a life I may not want, a life that I may not love, a life that I may just give up for adoption- or when pushed to the limits, a life that could potentially be left in a toilet?

Do you really trust us at all?

Men Decide for Women?

Why is it that a majority panel of men have any say over my body- either what I put into it or what I take out of it? Will women soon need permission to remove tumors or will such procedure compromise our wombs?

What happens when another scare tactic is used to increase population growth, as President Theodore Roosevelt utilized in 1908? Roosevelt encouraged citizens to quickly marry and reproduce, lest white people commit, what he called “social suicide”.

Our bodies are just objects to our society. We are relegated to containers and cannot be trusted with choice over our own bodies. This message is quite clear. Call it protecting the life of an unborn child all you want, but as far as I can tell- this is an attack on women.

An attack that I cannot accept. An attack none of us should accept. If my words can’t convince you, maybe you will consider Angela Davis’ words:

I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.

Change What You Won’t Accept

I will not accept that “this is how politics works” or that “this is how the government works”, or “this is how the law works, it is fair and just”. No, I cannot accept that justice is sexist. Justice looks like love, because God is love.

Love isn’t controlling. Love doesn’t treat women like an object to be ruled over and contained or limited.

I won’t “sit down and shut up” this time, as history has been telling me to do. I won’t be silent, and if this matters at all to you, you won’t be silent either. It’s time for the noisy men -who wish to control us and silence us – to sit down and shut-up.

And don’t just say you’ll speak out and then quiet down after a few days and move on to the next social outrage. This is it. It is here. It is now. Our bodies are not for sale, our bodies are not up for a vote, our bodies are OUR BODIES and we have the God-given right of agency over our bodies.

This is rape and last I checked, rape is illegal.

Marinate on the fabulous Ava DuVernay’s words:

Don’t move forward after reading this like everything is normal. Don’t shake your head at Alabama and then keep going about your day. Realize that this is a warning. It’s Alabama and abortion today. It’s you and your rights tomorrow. You silence will not save you. So speak up.

 

 

 

 

About Danielle Kingstrom
Danielle Kingstrom is an author, podcaster, and home-school teacher. She cohosts the podcast: Book Ish- The Canon Continues. Danielle lives in Minnesota, with her husband Cory, and their five children. You can read more about the author here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John

    No, I won’t sit down and shut up. I will continue to stand for, and argue for, and vote for – life, adoption, assistance, awareness, compassion. Men are integrally a part of this issue and will continue to be active, as we should. Not all pro-life men are as you present us here and the caricature you created. We value women, we value medical choice, we abhor patronage and misogyny, we work to support pregnant and single moms, we encourage adoption, we despise manipulation, we believe in needed exceptions (rape, incest, health), we desire financial help for mothers in need. You can keep painting us as cold and heartless, but you will not stop our work in the trenches and our hearts for women struggling. We are out here, and we are a part of this.

  • Danielle Kingstrom

    I never painted “all men” as such. Perhaps you should re-read the article?

  • brassyhub

    Men are responsible for 100% of unwanted pregnancies.

    I am pretty passionately ‘against abortion’. But I am also pro-choice. In the real world, it may often be the less bad option. The same with drugs policy: the current policies have visibly and patently failed. Harm-reduction policies, as applied in many European countries, patently and verifiably work better. But Bible thumpers prefer to thump their Bibles and live in a world of black and white, right and wrong…

  • Danielle Kingstrom

    While I tend to agree with you on the general characterization of “Bible thumpers”; I would be remiss to also point out that, many secular individuals also prefer to live in a world of black and white and right and wrong.

  • Danielle Kingstrom

    I agree. Alabama was not silent. But many voices have been. I redirect my understanding of why in my follow-up piece “No Uterus- No opinion. No, that’s wrong!”

  • newenglandsun

    Neither was I silent. I concur with Alabama’s decision because abortion is murder as taught by the Church.

  • Danielle Kingstrom

    I don’t go by what was “taught by the church”. Which church? Which theology? Which denomination? To say that the “Church” teaches anything that is consistent is ridiculous.
    The church is just another institution created by men to control others and propagandize.

  • newenglandsun

    Well the Church being the Christian Church. The Orthodox Church is in schism with the Catholic Church but both teach the same. Many Protestant denominations also teach the same. I refer to the infallible, undivided Church.

    Was the Church created by men? It was created by a man, actually. Jesus. To find yourself in disagreement with the Church is to find yourself severed from Christ. You then lack authority to teach. I stand by the Church. She is infallible, you are not.

  • Danielle Kingstrom

    Jesus did not create any church.
    Loosen up on your grasping to institutions. Jesus wasn’t about conformity or tribes.
    The church as well as the bible were created by men. I recommend you going back into history to verify that.
    Otherwise, I can give you a solid list of references that also demonstrate such is the case.
    None of us lack authority- we are all in Christ. Whatever doctrines you are defending are being made in the image you want to conceive God in. That’s kind of a problem.
    Be well. Be blessed. Take care.

  • Ron Richardson

    Ms. Kingstrom, You’re being melodramatic and making the issue of abortion a much deeper philosophical question than it is. In it’s most basic form, the definition of abortion on a viable fetus is nothing more than murder. But, having said that, it’s notwithstanding certain circumstances; rape, incest, viability of the fetus and the welfare of the mother. Alabama aside, nobody is trying to legislate morality. The real issue is common sense, if people (young, or old, male or female)are going to engage in adult situations, then they should be responsible for those decisions. It goes back to the families to teach responsibility to their children…i.e. parent them, and to the village to educate and inspire integrity and responsibility, not give cart-blanch the killing of the innocents

  • Danielle Kingstrom

    The more I learn about “common sense” the more I discover how truly uncommon it is.
    That’s when I realize that I speak and see from a seat of privilege. That’s when I understand why I have to be considerate of those who do not have the access to information and resources as I do. I often forget that not everyone has it like me, which means not everyone has the same information as me which means that common sense to me is going to look very different to another person’s version of common sense. See, common sense is common to the senses of the person utilizing the way of thinking.
    Also, not everyone has a two parent home. Many widows are made for sacrifices to the military. Many widows are made from sacrifices to law enforcement. Many circumstances create deficits. Not just “lack of common sense”.
    Not everyone shares the same views as you, Mr. Richardson, and we really shouldn’t wont for that, either.

  • Ron Richardson

    You’re a better “wordsmith,” than philosopher. Your tone has undertones of reveling in confrontation against a cross-section of society who values human life and demonizes them for that value. You use your words to lump us pro-lifer’s in some, ignorant, archaic light that has no depth. Life is the ideal goal, but there are times of extenuating circumstances, but anytime someone tries to broach this delicate, divisive subject, even you liberals wax political and flood the conversation with rhetoric and propaganda, preventing any common sense legislation…and, I have to ask what continent you live in, because your comment suggested that there’s a section of the US that hasn’t gotten any memo’s

  • Clint

    I think one major divergence between the two sides can be seen in the section “Which Life Has More Value?”. The problem I see with the argument there is that we don’t kill people just because they are no longer capable of making choices. I can empathize with a woman in all sorts of difficult situations, but there are workable solutions to all those problems that don’t involve anyone getting killed. Why are we demonized as controlling and unloving because we think people should be truly responsible when it comes to sex and that no one has the right to kill their children whether it’s out of convenience or fear or anything else?

    And for all the rhetoric about pro-lifers only being pro-birth and not caring about people after birth, I think the evidence would show that most of the people in the pro-life movement who are really working towards ending abortion do care about people’s lives and are doing a lot more to provide options and help for women (through crisis pregnancy centers and related programs) than those offering her an abortion and better birth control to solve her problems. And just because someone doesn’t support certain government programs that support the poor doesn’t mean they don’t support helping the poor, they might just disagree on the role of government and expect better results from a private solution.

  • DoctorDJ
  • Danielle Kingstrom

    Good questions to pose. Also, good points made about the generalizations we make about opposing sides.
    It’s true, I have not spoken with every prolife individual, so I do operate with a handicap. A lack of perspective, sure. But then does that mean that my perspective is unworthy of consideration?

  • Clint

    Thanks for the reply. I think your perspective definitely deserves consideration, I’m sorry if my comment came across as indicating otherwise. I know the second part isn’t something you really touched on, it’s just something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. There is a lot of confusion and misinformation in the conversation about abortion because so many people are being silent and other are shouting so loud they can’t hear anyone else. I think there is definitely something to learn from both sides of this debate if we want to do the best we can to help women and children and society at large. You mentioned that legislating morality has some serious problems (at least in some cases, I mean we legislate all sorts of morality when it comes to murder and theft and such), but there are also some serious problems with enshrining certain rights in law a well, especially if those things turn out to be immoral. I agree with you that we need to be able to have a civil discourse about this, there is just too much on the line to do anything else. I’m not quite sure what to think about this back and forth between NY then Alabama and others then Illinois basically removing every abortion law on their books. Even if you think Alabama went too far, I can’t see how putting into law that “fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses have no independent rights in this state” and declaring open season on the unborn like abortion is some kind of moral good is a anything like a reasonable response. I hope the good people of Illinois will not be silent either.

    You mentioned in your article that Jesus wasn’t speaking about children when he spoke of “the least of these”. I agree with that as much as children aren’t part of the immediate context, but the immediate context doesn’t say anything about “women of color” either, though I can see the connection to both groups if they are hungry, thirsty, sick, etc. There is also a marked difference in the way society views and treats children at large and the way they treat the unborn (particularly the unwanted unborn). If you have the time, I would highly recommend the book Love the Least (a lot) by Michael Spielman. The subtitle should tell you something, “Extending the love of Christ to abortion-vulnerable women and children.” It’s unabashedly pro-life, but it’s made me rethink several things about our Christian duties and responsibilities, and the problem of remaining silent. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it all, but I’m glad I read it and would recommend it to anyone. It’s a free ebook on Apple, Amazon, and several other places.

  • Brandon Roberts

    alabama is enabling incest babies and unsafe doctorless abortions.

  • So, the state government of Alabama is enabling incest babies? How? And does that mean we shouldn’t put faith or trust in governments? Because, I would agree with you there.

  • Brandon Roberts

    “how” by not allowing victims of incest to get a safe abortion.
    “that mean we shouldn’t put our faith or trust in goverments” yes or at least not all of it.

  • I would be curious to know how high the incest rate is in Alabama. Then I would like to know how high the incest pregnancy rate is.
    I mean, the way you’re framing the statement, it seems like incest-induced pregnancies are very common. I would really want to see some facts to back up such a statement, just to consider whether or not the state is actually “enabling” this phenomenon to take place. More so, if this is the case, that it is common, I would say abortion rights are a secondary concern if incest is in fact a common thing. Or perhaps, if it IS so common, maybe that is why they banned abortions? To thwart incest?
    Anyway, I am not convinced the state is effectively “enabling” incest by any means of their laws, albeit, I am not familiar with their laws. Do they not prosecute incest in Alabama?

  • Brandon Roberts

    i did find a document about rape and sexual assault in alabama and according to it 80% was incest related (couldn’t find one about incest babies though)