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)
“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.