Hi, my name is Erin and I’m a feminist.
I am also a Christian who believes in the sanctity of life; and I am deeply unsettled by the number of pregnancies that are terminated in America every year.
I believe life begins at conception, and that any loss of life is tragic. However–I also know that my opinion on that matter comes from a place of privilege. I’ve never lived in poverty or worried how I would feed myself–much less child. I’ve never been raped or physically abused. I have always had access to healthcare. And therefore, while I am against abortion, I don’t feel entitled to make that decision for every woman.
Furthermore, the more I learn about life in countries where abortion is not legal, the more certain I am that choice is critical to civilized society. Read, for instance, this chilling profile about the women of El Salvador, where reproductive rights are severely limited–as is access to birth control. Read about how many women wind up in prison–prison!–for having miscarriages. If they can’t “prove” that it was unintentional (and no one is really sure how they might prove such a thing) they can face criminal charges.
It’s easy to say that “that would never happen in America,” but make no mistake–laws that limit access to abortion are laws that limit care for women, in general. And the “unintended outcomes” inherent in some of those laws–which are drafted, by and large, by men–would be unforeseeable, on the whole. We might also say that there could still be allowances for victims of rape or incest to terminate a pregnancy–but that is a dangerously small loophole. In those cases, the burden of proof would fall on the victim; which could tie up the process in all kinds of red tape and drama–which would push the procedure into a late term termination.
As a proponent of the sanctity of life, the prospect of more late-term abortions is disturbing to me. As is the unspeakable horror of making a woman have to “prove” that she was raped or abused before she could reclaim her body from the trauma.
Read about life in any country that places such restrictions on women–or better yet, get to know some of those women–and you would never, for a moment, consider it a country that values the sanctity of life. You would come away knowing it is a country that is hostile to women; that wants only to control, manipulate and silence half of its population. And if you want to refute that fact, then find out how many men in those countries are prosecuted for their role in said unwanted pregnancy. Go ahead, we’ll wait…
And then talk to any women’s healthcare professionals (if you could find a few) in those countries, and they would tell you the same thing–restricting access does not end abortion. It just means that women will find other ways to end a pregnancy–in which case many women will die.
On the other hand, there are ways that we could, within the parameters of a free and developed civilization, dramatically reduce the number of abortions. For one thing, we can address systemic poverty–the kind of abject need that would make a woman unable to care for a child. We can also address violence against women–the kind that results in unwanted pregnancies, as well as making a woman reluctant to bring a child into the home.
We can also continue to advocate for accessible and affordable healthcare–the positive results of which would be manifold. For one thing, women who knew they would have at least that basic necessity covered for their child, might be more willing to become mothers; and it would also remove the intimidating cost factor of a hospital delivery. But, even more importantly–access to basic care is the surest way to reduce unwanted pregnancies. In fact, teen pregnancy in America is at an all-time low. That is thanks, in large part, to the Affordable Care Act and easier access to birth control .
It seems like a no-brainer that fewer unwanted pregnancies means fewer abortions. But many politicians refuse to draw that line of logic, opting instead to capitalize on the deeply emotional fervor of the religious right. But those single-issue voters are just begging to be lied to… because anyone can say they care about “life.”
Enter, born-again Donald Trump.
It is absurd to think that this man–who is hostile towards women, and who rejects anyone or anything not distinctly white, affluent and American–will advocate for policies that value life…let alone its sanctity.
The issues of poverty and violence against women–and yes, the deep desire to reduce the rate of abortion–should be bi-partisan issues that all Christians can rally around, regardless of political ideology. We have let ourselves become deeply divided across party lines, because politicians learned long ago that they could win votes by making us angry at and afraid of each other. It’s high time we learned to engage in a more nuanced conversation.
Many Christians will count it a loss today, that the Supreme Court overturned a Texas abortion ban. The fine print, though, is that the ban in question limited women’s access to other kinds of care. So overturning the ban was a vote for women’s rights–which, in turn, is a vote for children. Even unborn ones.
The decision to ban domestic violence perpetrators from buying guns (how was this even still a question??) was also a vote for women today. Combine these two rulings with the fact that Cokie Roberts said this morning that no-way-José-never-in-a-million-years-not-on-this-planet, is Donald Trump going to win this election, and I’m going to call today a good day for women.
And a good day for women is a good day for everyone. Except maybe Donald Trump.