I may lose a few friends over this, and that’s okay. If we couldn’t remain friends while having differences of opinions, we probably weren’t that close anyway.
Here’s the reality: abortion is still legal in every single state. The law Alabama is attempting to pass will realistically never go into effect due to the many lawsuits it will face for being considered unconstitutional. In fact, none of the laws attempting to regulate abortion of pre-viability babies are currently into effect and have extremely low chances of being enacted.
Another reality: the fact that bills like this can even be proposed and signed by people is incredibly discouraging to me.
These bans are about so much more than pro-life. Should the ban go into effect, poor and marginalized people will be the most affected. This is a white supremacy issue above all else. It’s about power.
The discussion around this ban and those similar to it that have been proposed has been very exclusionary. All genders can have abortions. By naming this a woman’s issue, we are excluding those who identify as trans, intersex, gender non-binary, and others. Those who are already on the outskirts of abortion discussion have essentially been shut out of this discussion as well. Using gender affirming language is a start in challenging the narrative being built around reproductive rights. Additionally, this isn’t a man v. woman issue. White cis-women proposed this ban, voted for this ban, and signed it into law. (This is a white supremacy issue. It is about power.)
We also seem to be forgetting that you can personally be against abortion for yourself but pro-choice for other people who deserve bodily autonomy and free choice. At this point in my life, there are probably few to no scenarios that would lead me to consider abortion - but there was a time in my life where, if I would have gotten pregnant, I would have seriously considered it. My decision to be pro-life for myself right now doesn’t mean that I should decide that’s what’s best for everyone who runs the risk of being pregnant. It’s okay to focus on yourself and keep your emotions and opinions from hindering the rights and lives of others.
It seems to me that those having abortions are often represented as simply not wanting a baby to change their lifestyle. I think there are a million different reasons why people have abortions and its not up to us to decide which is valid and which isn’t. Some people get abortions because of medical reasons, some for mental, emotional, or financial reasons, and some because they’re simply not wanting to or in the position to have a baby. I could lay out a hundred different scenarios to make you feel empathy for the people who have abortions and the reason they have them, but I shouldn’t have to. Bodily autonomy is a human right regardless of your feelings and opinions.
As a Christian, I think the rest of this needs to be said: the church has been incredibly harmful in this discussion. Leaders in the church publicly decried abortion after New York passed an expansive abortion rights law. People in the church continue to share harmful and untrue facts surrounding abortion. While I think its totally fine and great to share your opinions (aka what I’m doing right now), I think that as people of God, we have a responsibility to call in, not push out. Calling abortion murder and those who have abortion murderers alienates them from the church and essentially lets them know they’re not welcome in your house. If we really want to get technical, the bible doesn’t exactly say anything about abortion. Further, we lord this idea that God is deeply offended when people have abortions over others as a way to shame them into keeping their babies. I think God is probably deeply offended by people using His name as a way to control the lives of others. If there’s one thing I know about God, its that He’s a God of free choice and easy forgiveness. He’s a God who meets people where they are, He doesn’t drag them along until they submit. So maybe we can start using God’s name the way He intended? As a way to bring people together in love, supporting one another; leaving the judgement to the one who is blameless.
Lastly, there’s a hashtag movement swirling now - #youknowme. It’s meant to reveal to pro-lifers that they know more people who have had abortions than they realize. Statistics say one in four people have had an abortion. While I think the movement is coming from a good place, I think it can also be really dangerous to pressure people into sharing their abortion stories. Chances are, some people have never told anyone out of fear of violence, rejection, and more. Encourage and support those who choose to share, but don’t use forceful language like, “I’m calling on you to share your experience that was potentially traumatic with people who probably won’t care or change their opinion because of it.” That probably isn’t helpful and most likely won’t change the views of those who are ‘pro-life’ above all else.
If you wanna have coffee and talk about our thoughts and opinions, I’m down for it. I love to listen and to talk.
If you would like to support organizations still providing safe access to abortion care, I’ve listed some links below. This is a non-exhaustive list and you’re welcome to share others in the comments!