dear pro-life movement,
i’ve never been particularly involved in this fight of yours. i always figured i’d never fully agree with either side, one way or the other, so i took a comfy little seat on the sidelines and amused myself with…well, everything else. i ride this nebulous middle-line, because i just flat don’t want to get involved.
lately, however, i’ve done some thinking. i’ve been thinking about this complex issue, about the grey areas that fill it up to the brim. because, dear pro-lifers–and you pro-choicers, too–there are a lot of grey areas. oh, i know you don’t want to believe it. it’s a much easier issue to grapple with when it’s all neatly black & white, when you can relegate the other side to evil babykiller or insane religious freak, as the case may be. and i get that, the very human desire to make sure you are right, always. so that’s the first thing: grey. let’s acknowledge the grey areas here, how sometimes issues of financial insecurity, mental illness, and broken relationships can make this whole life thing very, very hard.
because, dear pro-life movement, i think you’re focusing on the wrong thing, to the complete exclusion of other very important things. i’ve seen so many emotional facebook posts & blog articles about this issue. some of them rely on shock value and disgust. they seem to think that if we put enough pictures of gore and blood (that may or may not be what it purports to be; i am a millennial, i have been using the internet my entire life, and i am anything but trusting of internet graphics), their cause will eventually be won by default.
others rely on pretty–and usually, equally fake–pictures of supposed “twelve week old fetuses” and the like. like their brethren, they assume that if enough infographics with all-caps letters and pictures are shown, they’ll eventually win. some just use a lot of words. and they’re okay, too. i mean their statistics are a little skewed (because let’s be real; if you’re going to show a graphic of a purported twelve-week fetus and then include plan b statistics, you’re being a bit ethically dishonest), but to err is human.
all of them, however, ignore the one element in the issue that i think could change everything: the women.
some of you don’t ignore them. some of you say terrible, horrible things about the women who get abortions. you make me sick, in case you were unsure about where i stand on that. stop saying horrible things about people on the internet. please. i beg. you’re not helping your cause, you’re not helping the people you’re talking about, and you’re definitely not helping jesus, so just stop. some people talk about how they would totally adopt the babies that come from those women, just to make it easier on them.
but you’re still ignoring them. you’re ignoring the reasons behind the choices that women make.
oh, it’s easy to simplify them. it’s better to live in poverty than to kill your unborn baby, you say. but it’s hard to remember that when you’re living on the street, just lost your job, and you’re pregnant with the baby of your ex.
they chose to have sex so they just need to live with it, you say. and you ignore the women stuck in abusive relationships, unable to get out for fear of beatings, rapes, or worse. you ignore the women who thought they were safe–after all, they had their last baby just four months ago; they didn’t think it was possible to get pregnant again so soon and now they know beyond the shadow of a doubt that there’s no way they can do this. you ignore the women who were raped and now live with a being growing inside them that makes them physically sick, that traps them in a spiral of depression and fear and hatred.
and then there’s the others, the one- or two-percent who are forced through medical necessity to make the hardest decision any mother would have to face. their life is on the line. in some cases, their baby is already on death’s doorstep–all that is needed is the final birthing into death, because there’s no chance they’ll survive in the harsh realities of a world that requires lungs, heart, brain, to all be working.
and instead of sitting and listening, instead of attempting to understand how truly difficult these issues, these reasons can be….
you stand outside planned parenthood clinics and you shout at terrified young women about how they’re killing their babies, uncaring of what they’re there for (because if i had a dollar for every story of a woman who went into a clinic for a miscarriage, or because she couldn’t feel her baby move, or because she wanted to not get pregnant, and then got shouted at because she was a “killer”, i wouldn’t be living in a budget duplex). you hold up signs that proclaim that the death of a fetus is murder. you shout and execrate and blanket it all in the cross, as if that symbol of despair and grace somehow consecrates your actions. as if jesus would approve of your abuse of the widow and the orphan and the least of these.
and while you’re doing all of this, you’re missing the one thing that could put you out of an activism job. you’re missing your chance to do something, not just talk about doing something.
all of these issues, these reasons for why women get abortions, aren’t going to be solved by protesting outside planned parenthood. they’re not going to be solved by pushing for laws. they’re not going to be solved by shutting down every perceived avenue of escape that hopeless women have. the reasons will remain–every hopeless, awful one of them. and women will die. women will kill themselves, they will do unsafe things, they will languish in every bit of fear and agony possible.
we have to solve the reasons before we can hope to end the result.
we have to work to remove the societal need for such a thing as abortion.
that won’t be done in a legislature, no matter how stacked with “christian” lawmakers. it won’t be done in a picket line, or a pulpit, or even inside a church building. it will happen little by little, through community and the mess that is life.
americans are bad at community. real, living community, anyway. we’ve lost the tribal mentality, the knack of binding together, joining into life together. so we have to relearn it. because it’s the only thing that will solve the reasons given above.
we have to stop bad-mouthing young women when they come home pregnant and unwed, driving them away from what semblance of community we do have by foisting shame upon them. we have to stop dismissing mental illness as a phase or a spiritual attack or just an inability to try hard enough. we have to start meaningfully working to eliminate poverty in our communities, neighborhoods, cities. we have to be watchful for signs of abuse and instability in the relationships nearest us and have the courage to reach out.
we have to start living life with people, in all its messy wonder. not in a sanctimonious way. just simply living. you, dear pro-life movement, must be willing to do this. and it will be hard.
it’s become a cliche, but it’s no less true: raising a child takes a village. and sometimes, having one does, too.