What does pro life mean to me?
At the risk of being told that I am misleading, I want to clarify what I mean by pro life. When I say I’m pro life, I mean we should be concerned with the lives of folks who indisputably have life, and that they have it more abundantly (John 10:10 - did I mention I am a Christian too?)
The term pro life implies that the opposing side is pro death, and perhaps that was intentional. But I don’t think it’s fair. To me, pro life is a stance that should extend beyond the abortion issue.
Pro life should mean:
we are committed to pulling the 16 million children living in poverty in the richest country in the world into the middle class
we are ashamed to have the highest rate of incarceration in the world
we are figuring out a solution to the fact that police kill American citizens at 70 times the rate of other first world nations
The Creator who gave us life is the only one who can impose death as a punishment, not a court
Speaking more specifically, I am committed to making sure that abortion becomes a medical procedure that women rarely if ever have to consider because our society has empowered every man and woman with a metaphorical toolkit that includes:
Reproductive Health Education and Resources
Sexual Assault Prevention Education (for men and women)
The self-esteem to feel ownership and autonomy over their bodies and the relationships they are in – physical and emotional
Do I like abortion? Not particularly. Do I think it should be illegal? Nope.
Since the beginning of time, people have performed abortions, and making them illegal won’t end it; they’ll just make them more dangerous. We’ve all heard about the use of hangers, risky potions, and “accidental” stair falls. Making abortion illegal just increases the risk to life we currently have – the lives of the women in our society who have for one reason or another decided that they are not going to complete their pregnancy.
So Why Do Women Have Abortions?
I can’t answer that question for thousands of women, but I can give you an educated guess for at least one reason based on a recent experience I had:
My significant other and I regularly babysit our friend’s daughter, a beautiful 8-month-old child who brings us a lot of joy. We typically try to babysit her on days when we’re both available to watch her. However, a few days ago, my co-babysitter had to work, so it was just the little love muffin and me. I had to run an errand at Target and it was one of the very few times I was out in public with an infant, alone.
For whatever reason, I felt a little self-conscious when people looked in my direction, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then it hit me as I realized I was awkwardly covering my left hand. I was afraid people would think I was a young, single unmarried mother. A statistic. (And a stereotype if you factor in that I’m Black.) This of course, is silly. Why should I be concerned with the opinions of complete strangers? And more importantly, why should I care that they might look down on me for being something – a single, unmarried mother – that many women I know, respect and admire are? My mother was a single parent, a single parent mothers my goddaughter, and single mothers raised both President Clinton and Obama.
And yet, I was ashamed, as are many women who choose to have an abortion.
I imagine people choose abortion for the following three reasons:
they are afraid of what others in their family, social circles, and the local Target will think (often the same communities that would castigate them if they had a child out of wedlock would also judge them for having an abortion – a lose lose situation)
they are unprepared to raise a child
they simply aren’t interested in raising a child
So What’s the Solution?
There are solutions to all three that would drastically reduce abortions without making it illegal (which as I stated earlier wouldn’t solve the problem).
Despite conservative media coverage that suggests otherwise, Planned Parenthood is an organization that provides much needed services to women and families, often preventing the very abortion and unintended pregnancies that anti abortionists rally against. Planned Parenthood offers:
cancer screening and prevention
STD testing for men and women
Contraception for men and women
Reproductive health education
I could have pulled this information from a website, but I’ve seen Planned Parenthood in action myself. Several years ago, as an undergraduate student, I was enrolled in a Women’s Health class and along with a few classmates, I had the opportunity to teach basic women's health education to teenaged women at an inner city Planned Parenthood. When we asked, “Any questions?” we received questions you wouldn't believe. I am forever grateful that we were able to provide extremely valuable information that we sadly assume people are taught by their parents. It was proof that not only does Planned Parenthood provide great services to women, but also that they are a much-needed resource!
But I Thought You Said You Were A Christian
In addition to supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood, I believe Christians and other people of faith need to do more to show women that:
God loves us, no matter our station in life and so do His children
our value is not tied to our sexual history
our value does not change because we may be raising a child alone
we are never truly alone (Deuteronomy 31:6!)
Many folks have told me that the traditional pro-life stance is the only Christian choice. Often, these same individuals fight for an unbridled 2nd amendment, despite clear evidence that shows gun ownership restrictions would assuredly save lives. These same individuals adamantly support capital punishment, although each time a sinner approached Jesus about a crime that carried a death sentence, He chose mercy.
I won’t presume to say that Jesus is pro choice or pro life. However my faith leads me to my current position; that we love and care for another in a way that makes the need for an abortion improbable, not illegal.
If you’re like me and you wish we lived in a world that didn’t require abortions, you should be invested in fighting the sources that cause it – a fear of shame, a lack of information, and a lack of preparation for parenthood.
You may ask, “Well how do we do that?”
Let me introduce you to someone….