My conversation with Chuck Winder

You may have seen the news. An Idaho senator made some comments in defending his mandatory ultrasound before abortion bill that infuriated people and went viral. Here’s his quote:

“Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this,” Winder said on the Senate floor. “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”

A number of my friends commented on the article, posted the link to Huffington Post on their facebook pages, and were upset about the comment.

I was upset too.

But I know Senator Winder. I don’t know him well. But he is a Presbyterian Elder who has served as the moderator of the Presbytery where I serve. I disagree with him completely on this. Let’s be clear about it. But I also know he is not a monster. I was certain that he couldn’t possibly mean what I heard in his comment. So I emailed him.

Senator Winder:
>
> Dear Chuck,
> I was wondering if you meant your comments about women and their doctors
> to sound the way they did? Do you really mean to suggest that women would
> be unclear about whether or not they were raped? I read your comments on
> huff post, as did many of my friends across the country. They don’t know
> you, but my suspicion is that you surely didn’t mean to be so insensitive
> to women? Any clarification would be appreciated. I am deeply opposed to
> this legislation. While I do not like abortion or think it is a good
> solution, I strongly believe it should be legal until we can make it
> unnecessary. Once we start treating the lives that are already here with
> the same respect you want to extend to fetuses, then it is a different
> conversation. And people who are opposed to abortion should be shouting
> loudly to protect womens’ access to contraception. Any clarification
> would be appreciated. I have told my friends that I am sure you misspoke.
> I hope I am right. Blessings, Marci Glass
>

I was hoping that he meant that doctors, not legislators, would be determining if a woman had been raped. I was hoping for a typo. Anything other than that suggestion that a woman would need a medical professional to help her determine if the sex she’d had was consensual or not.

He replied. I am appreciative that someone in the midst of a legislative session would reply so quickly. Here’s his response.

Marci, of course not. I was just saying that the attending physician would hopefully counsel the victim to determine if she was pregnant from a consensual relationship vs a pregnancy caused by the rape. The thought being that knowing the pregnancy was not caused by the rape she may well not want to terminate the pregnancy.

Chuck

This was not the answer I was hoping for.

(author’s note: In the comments, people pointed out that I misunderstood his reply. I acknowledged that in the comments, but to be clear, I want to acknowledge it here too. He is apparently saying that he’s hoping a doctor could help a woman determine if her pregnancy was caused by the rape or by consensual sex. That said, I wonder if I didn’t understand him because it still seems a startling comment. Does he think a woman needs legislation to help her determine whether or not she should be figuring such things out? There are many problems with this idea, many of which are helpfully pointed out in the comments below. But I wanted to make sure you knew that I had caught that error of mine without having to send you to the comments. as you were….)

Here’s my reply to him:

Thank you for your reply. As a woman who faced an unplanned pregnancy, I have to say that I never needed anyone to help me determine if the sex had been consensual or not. I chose to place my child for adoption, and I get to go see him graduate from college in May. So I know what I am talking about.
When I was facing that choice, I went to Planned Parenthood for the pregnancy test. Never once did they encourage me to get an abortion. They never even brought it up.
The only reason I even considered an abortion– for a second– was so people at my church wouldn’t judge me and so my parents wouldn’t be disappointed in me. I chose to go through public shame to bring my child to the world, but I was thankful that it was MY choice. I knew my parents wouldn’t kick me out. And I decided I was willing to lose my faith, if needed.
And never, ever, ever did I need a physician or any other person to counsel me as you are suggesting be done. I would encourage you to walk back your words and reconsider.
As a woman who faced this situation after the first time I had sex, who felt bad that she had let her family and her church down, I can tell you that your comments would have hurt me to the core. Shame was one thing I did not need help with. And it is patronizing beyond belief for a man, even a nice man such as yourself, to suggest that I would have needed a doctor to help determine if the sex had been consensual or not.
I know you are approaching this legislation out of the depth of your faith, but I pray you would consider that in the aim of saving life, you might be ruining life. Your comments, though I am sure you would not intend them this way, are inflammatory and painful for me, and for any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Thank you for your time.
Marci

If you don’t know my adoption story, you can read a sermon about my experience here. But let’s be clear. THE most compelling reason for me to consider an abortion was to avoid the shame that conservative Christians offer to unmarried pregnant teenagers.

Did you hear me?

The only reason I considered an abortion was so other Christians wouldn’t judge me.

I am thankful, to the bottom of my heart, that the only judging that came my way was from people who didn’t know me and who had marginal voices in my life. The people who knew me loved me, supported me, and carried me through the entire experience. Friends, family, professors, pastors, university administrators, and little old ladies at church all gave me love and care. The church I was attending offered me grace and acceptance. This issue is probably the biggest reason I became a pastor, truth be told.

So, for people who I know to be Christians who love Jesus to have made abortion THE defining issue of the faith, I pray that they will reconsider.

I didn’t need help understanding shame.

I needed help understanding grace.

Where is grace in the conversation about criminalizing contraception? (And how can people who are opposed to abortion also be opposed to contraception?)

Where is grace in the conversation about abortion? How can we possibly be discussing that women should be subjected, against their will, to transvaginal ultrasounds?

How about this.

Let’s not make abortion illegal. Let’s make it unnecessary. Let’s provide access to contraception. Let’s continue to work at health care reform so that money isn’t the reason people consider abortion. Let’s support single women who find themselves pregnant and give them help so that they can raise their children.

Let’s stop with the shame already.

Yes, I value life. I would even call myself “pro-life” as I also call for legal abortion. But the way I show that is in caring for and advocating for the lives that already on this earth. Life may begin at conception, but our concern for life certainly shouldn’t end at birth.

If Senator Winder replies to my other email, I’ll share it here.

Thanks for your time. Now go out and, as author Marilynne Robinson has said, “participate in the grace that has saved” us.

60 thoughts on “My conversation with Chuck Winder

  1. Marci- Thank you for writing this, for your honesty about the complexity of these issses and for continuing in conversation with Elder Winder.

  2. Marci, Awesome response. I too was upset by Winder’s comments. I think what he was saying (based on clarifications in the Statesman) is that if a woman was already pregnant from consensual sex and then was raped, her doc could help her determine if the pregnancy was from the consensual sex or from the rape. Which baffles me. I am not sure how the doctor would be able to determine this without lots of invasive tests, and I don’t even know if it’s possible in early pregnancy. However, I surely do know that a woman who has been raped probably doesn’t need the trauma of a pregnancy to constantly remind her of it, whether or not the baby is from another sexual encounter. Main thing: if a woman wants an abortion, nobody should be questioning her knowledge of her own body, nor should they be asking her if she is sure she was raped. Women, as you know, are not stupid, and most are very well in-tune with our bodies.

  3. Everything about this legislation is wrong. Everything about your story is valid. But just to be completely transparent about what Winders argument is, I think you are misreading his meaning, even after his explanation. I think he is saying that a woman could have sex consensually with a man, not necessarily her husband, become pregnant by that relationship, suffer a rape subsequently which does not result in a pregnancy of course and abort the fetus in the erroneous belief that it was caused by the rape. This is all ridiculous and does not change how invasive, unnecessary and repulsive the whole idea of government involvement in personal medical decisions is. I thought Chuck Winder was a reasonable guy too, though I never agreed with him politically. Now I see I was wrong.

  4. Yes, based on the comments from the Statesman, it appears that even after his reply, I was still unclear on what he was trying to say.
    I just have no idea how he thinks it wouldn’t already occur to a woman that she might be pregnant from her partner, vs her rapist. Why would he even need to mention that? Does he think women wouldn’t consider that?

    This whole issue just reinforces my belief that unless you are a woman who could possibly get pregnant, you should cede the finer points of the argument to the people who would be carrying the baby to term. I do believe that the men involved in a particular pregnancy should have a voice in that pregnancy, but I also believe that men will never experience what I experienced with that positive pregnancy test. No matter how enlightened, compassionate, and caring they might be, it is just not the same when it is not your body in question.

    Thanks for your comments, everyone.

  5. NOTE: In trying to clarify what Winder may have meant to say, I do NOT mean to excuse him for what he did say, nor do I think someone whose job it is to speak publicly should demand this much close reading and charitable interpretation of his constituents. The man’s job includes speaking plainly, and he should practice until he can do that!

    A possible interpretation: It seems, in his reply, like he is very clumsily trying to say that there might be women who know they have *both* been raped and had consensual sex recently, and want to figure out WHICH of those contacts with sperm induced the pregnancy. Like, he is imagining a woman comes in to see a doctor. She is married and regularly has sex with her husband, and also last Tuesday her coworker raped her at the office party. She just discovered she might be pregnant. She comes into the doctor’s office for a pregnancy test, and also asks the doctor, “Doctor, is there any way to find out which of these men is the genetic father of this baby? Because I would not want to find myself aborting a child who genetically belongs to me and my husband just because this person at my office raped me the same week–that gives my rapist entirely too much power.” And then the doctor somehow helps her figure out that the timeline makes it impossible that the fetus is genetically associated with the rapist and now she can keep her husband’s offspring growing in her uterus.

    Do you think this is a possible interpretation of Winder’s email/comments?

    Again, a clarification: I think this comment, even if interpreted this way, is a crazy misdirect of epic proportions. The woman in the hypothetical stories is some sort of straw man, if that is even what he is talking about. The number of abortions that happen under circumstances just like these have got to be *vanishingly* small, and even under this reading I feel the Senator is trying to avoid having the kind of real conversation about the complexities of the abortion issue that is needed. Either way, his actions are unconscionable for a public figure. But because you say he is an acquaintance and you are hoping to find a way to understand his statements that does not require seeing him (Chuck, the individual) as a hateful bigot, I just wanted to offer you that reading, in case maybe it would make relationship with him still possible for you.

    • There is absolutely no way at an early stage of pregnancy that a doctor can “determine” which person “fathered” it. We are talking about 2 cell layers thick at 4-6 weeks. A doctor isn’t supposed to “counsel” someone to try to talk them out of an abortion if it could potentially be her husbands as he alludes to. Chuck is the perfect example of why elected officials should not play doctor or create legislation that is medically or health care related without building a consultancy team of health care professionals.If this bill passes. I think we will see more full-term viable babies dumped in trash cans, parks, etc. Shaming women is not a solution.

  6. I still think that perhaps the Congressman’s words are a bit misconstrued here. I think he was perhaps thinking of cases where rape is involved and the woman is also involved in a loving monogamous relationship. (Unfortunately, as it is with politicians, they never think about a bigger, broader picture. They use the first example that comes to their mind to help prove their point, even if it isn’t a good one.) In this scenario, a transvaginal ultrasound can confirm to the date when conception occurred and could be helpful for a woman who is unsure of who the father of her child is when it comes to making such a hard, life altering decision. I don’t agree with abortion either, but I also believe that God gave us agency in this life and we make decisions- I see nothing wrong with asking that women receive the best counseling for their decisions before they make it. I don’t believe it is to shame them, it is to help them to be completely informed.

    I for one, received a transvaginal ultrasound at my OBGYN’s office at my first appointment at the 8 week mark, it was standard procedure there. I’m sure I could have declined it, but it ended up being helpful because the ultrasound technician was able to educate us about newer technologies that they have and told us that the transvaginal ultrasound is a great tool for judging not only the date of conception, but the viability of the pregnancy early on. It was painless and minimally invasive. It was comforting to see my baby at that early stage of development and to be told that everything was forming normally.

    I am expecting my second child and my first child is only 5 months old- I conceived #2 6 weeks after #1 was born, and now live in a different state. At my new doctor’s office, they don’t do an ultrasound until 12 weeks and it was torture to wait. The place they sent me for the ultrasound did counseling, which was something I didn’t receive at the other doctor’s office, and even though I am a happily married woman and it was the furthest thing from my mind, they mentioned abortion as an option during the counseling phase because they felt it was their obligation to inform me that I had options if I wanted them.

    I’ve experienced it both ways.

    I will say that informing me of the option of abortion when it was the furthest thing from my mind was far more uncomfortable and awkward than the transvaginal ultrasound. I may not have appreciated the sharing of that particular option, but there was no shame intended and they were kind about it. While I may not have appreciated parts of the counseling, other things I learned were things I’d never been told during my first pregnancy experience and I appreciate that they wanted me to be fully informed because it is my body. It was the same with the transvaginal ultrasound, I may have been a little surprised by the ultrasound method, but being informed about the health of my baby was a comfort to me, and may very well be to some women who are unsure of the path they want to take.

    I myself am not opposed to contraception, I believe that women should have access to it and it should be an affordable option, should she desire to use it. Where I take issue with it is in the case of Planned Parenthood, and maybe I’ve been misinformed, teenagers can receive it without the knowledge of their parents. We believe in abstinence in my faith. I myself didn’t lose my virginity until I was married, and I would hope that my children would choose the same path. I know that things happen and hormones can control the day, and I have several good friends that were sexually active too soon and had to deal with the consequences, emotional and physical, but I still feel, as a parent, that my child should have to come to me if they want to take a step like that and ask for me to take them to the doctor. If they have to hide it, then they probably shouldn’t be doing it, that is my belief.

    I think what it boils down to is this- we should have rights to choose, it is our body. I personally do not take birth control because it effects me in other ways physically and emotionally that I’d rather not deal with. I am dealing with the consequence of that choice right now, having two children very close together, but I couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to have my home blessed by the presence of another sweet spirit. To everyone there is a line, there is a black and a white area- it comes down to your own conscience, and your own belief system, but I for one am not opposed to the idea of people making fully informed decisions rather than making a hasty and rash decision out of fear of condemnation of others…the truth always comes out and either way people are going to judge you, in spite of Christ’s direction to “judge not”. Why should it be so repugnant to people that a doctor should have the opportunity to inform a woman about what is going on with her body, and the body of the life that she is carrying before she make any decisions?

    I have plenty of friends that are not blessed with a fertile body and, for them, adoption is the only option to grow their families. I think of all the homes that want and desire to bring children into them and I think that if one abortion could be prevented through thorough counseling and giving a woman powerful knowledge, that those homes could be blessed with the children they desire so badly.

    Of course, even with counseling, a woman may make the choice to have an abortion. That is between her and God, I have no right to judge her, I don’t know her circumstances, but if it even gets one person to think twice, it is a good thing in my estimation.

    • I am not opposed to abstinence. I think that until you are ready to raise a child with someone, you ought to really consider whether you should be sleeping with them. But abstinence is what led to my pregnancy. I also was taught abstinence. And it seemed like a good plan. But when the moment came when I needed some other information, I didn’t have it.
      I’m now very thankful for my unplanned (by me) pregnancy. My son is a gift and I am privileged to be a part of his life.
      But I think the greater church needs to spend some time pondering in its heart what I said about the most compelling reason to get an abortion was so my church friends wouldn’t judge me.

      • Thank you for your candidness Marci. I enjoyed your article and ability to see beyond the “debate” and understand how psychologically damaging these issues can be for women no matter what their beliefs.

      • Marci, Thank you so much for telling your story. You have such courage–not only to give your son to another family to raise, and to remain a guide in his life, but to share your experience in making the decision you did.
        Your last sentence says it all–the greater church spends way too much time judging others. Not just your church, but mine as well. (And I have never been in your position, but I see it around me.) Didn’t our Lord say judge not, lest ye be judged? Didn’t our Lord say he who has not sinned cast the first stone? Maybe somebody needs to be reminded of that.
        And you stated in one of your replies, “And I decided I was willing to lose my faith, if needed.” You wouldn’t have ever lost your faith. Your church community, maybe. But never your faith.

    • A transvaginal ultrasound can determine the stage to an extent. It is not an exact science though. They use it to determine EDC-estimated date of conception. Estimated. Sperm can live 3-5 days and an egg over 24. So there is a whole week before conception may occur.

      I think the point is, our elected official is very misinformed and coming up with uneducated and shameful rationale for supporting a bill that does more harm then good. He fabricated a rare hypothetical case that does not apply to the majority of abortions to push the agenda.

      It does not matter what a persons believes, what matters is as women we need to be able to get past our beliefs and wonder if a bill such as this is good for all people of our gender I personally do not support it, because the very women who need access and help in our society, will be further stigmatized and marginalized. We need to educate people not shame them. That also applies to providing women with unbiased information about sex, what to do if pressured to have it, STDs and conception control. We need to put our energy into helping women, not limiting their opportunities.

    • you reminded of my own pregnancy…where they were totally wrong about the due date…by over a month…I kept telling them I would never see December pregnant…I didn’t…ultra sounds are good science with a lot of guessing….

  7. Alex Chamberlain here…I worship with the Winders at Covenant Presbyterian Church, respect the hard work he does in public service, and find that he is consistently and stridently opposed to abortion when it doesn’t threaten the life of the mother.
    Roe v Wade made it clear that the State does have a stake in the life of a fetus at the point of viability (around 24 weeks with today’s technology), but has no say in a conversation between a physician and a patient prior to that gestational age. Since then the Supreme Court has confirmed that the State can not place an “undue burden” before a woman seeking a termination of pregnancy prior to viability. It would appear that this legislation and laws like it are destined to go to the Supreme Court when challenged (and they will be) in lower courts. My guess is that Chuck is well aware of that.
    I believe that his motivation is to save every unborn child he can, and is willing to use any means possible…even if he promotes strategies that place the rights of that fetus ahead of some rights held by the mother. I believe that his heart is passionately interested in saving these vulnerable lives. But I disagree that the motives, reasoning, and values that the mother holds all must yield to the fetus from conception onward. I think that his passion for the cause leads him to muddled thinking and misplaced legislation. Crazy, though, I like him as a person in many other ways.

    • Alex. Thank you for your comment. Our country was founded on the idea of separating church from state. Abortion is a moral or religious argument. This bill violates ethical medical practice. Please see the posting below. The problem is this…once we allow our elected officials to have a say in our private lives, who knows where it will stop. You may agree with this because of the cause, but, the issue is we are blindly allowing bills such as this to lay a foundation for violations of human rights. We should all be afraid. One day, there will be a bill that impacts you personally as well…

      “Idaho’s proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1387, in an unwarranted assault on privacy, meant to demean and shame women. The issue here is NOT whether abortion is right or wrong. The issue is the extent to which the government is infringing on personal privacy and individual bodily rights. Forcing women to undergo a medical procedure for political and NOT medical reasons is the very definition of government intrusion. This is, in short, about a woman being required to get an invasive medical procedure done with no exceptions, against her will.Senate Bill 1387 is not just an assault on women’s privacy, but moreover, it demands an abrogation of common medical ethics. Through this bill, the State is commanding physicians to perform a medically unnecessary procedure upon a woman. Are the politicians in the Idaho legislature physicians? No. Then why are they trying to fill the role of doctors and command the medical community in Idaho to act in a certain way? The bill and its proposed requirements is offensive to the medical community. The bill (1) is not related to medical necessity nor to informed consent; (2) disregards patients’ desires and wishes; (3) in no way is related to proper healthcare; (4) completely disregards the medical training and expertise of physicians.The politicians who support this legislation need to stop pretending it is about women’s health and informed consent, and instead own up to the fact that they are trying to impose their PERSONAL anti-abortion views on the entire medical community, as well as women as a whole, without any regard for personal privacy, patient wishes or common medical standards.”

      ~Anonymous

    • Yes, Alex. I like him too. That’s why the dissonance of this is so hard to figure out for me. Part of me wants to scream at him and call him names. But I like him. Go figure.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story. You make many excellent points, and approach the matter from a completely different perspective than mine, which I also appreciate.

  9. I agree with much of what has been said here. However in a country where religious freedom is a cornerstone, why is a so-called leader imposing his on 50+% of the population. I really want leadership from elected figures….not control, oppression or punishment.

  10. Brittany, all of your arguments and explanations are fine, but miss the point. What business does government have in this process? If you want counseling, great. But Chuck Winder is supporting a bill that says you MUST have it before an abortion, no matter the circumstances. The scenario he and others including myself have described here could not affect more than a tiny percentage of women, yet he wants every abortion seeker to endure it.

  11. Marci, Thank you for writing this. Your side of the story is beautifully and poignantly said.

    To the commenter who is opposed to Planned Parenthood dispensing contraception to teenagers without their parents permission, let me respond both as someone who worked for PP for ten years, and as a mother of young adults.

    First as a former clinic worker, let me just remind everyone that teenagers do not need permission to have sex, nor do 99% of the sexually active teenagers seek their parent’s permission to so. Sex happens separate form the teenager’s relationship with their parents. IN the best of circumstances, (I believe) children are able to talk about issues of values and ethics and love and sex and relationship with the caring adults in their lives.

    Bu very, very, many can’t. They just can’t, for fear of judgement or violence or being kicked out of their home or being shamed. Those teenagers need information and sometimes they need contraception. I’m very proud that my colleagues and I were able to provide comprehensive, judgement-free, honest information about reproductive and sexual health, and yes, contraception to those who needed it. I figure over ten years, I potentially helped various women avoid ten thousand abortions. What could possibly be more pro-life than that?

    As a mother of young adults, I am grateful to my local Planned Parenthood for providing low-cost oral contraceptives to my daughter when she was diagnosed with ovarian cysts at age 17, and for the myriad of health care she has gotten there as a young adult living far away from home. I’m also grateful for the very necessary abortion a friend of hers was able to obtain there. That young woman is no longer forever tied to the very abusive young man who impregnated her, and has a chance at a real life and a future.

    The issues are nuanced, and complicated. But the impulse of legislators to distrust women to know if they were raped or not is neither nuanced nor subtle. It is misogynistic, plain and simple.

    Thank you again, Marci, for writing this.

    Julie Craig

    • As a mother of 4 and a grandmother of 9 (soon to be 11!), I know that teenagers often don’t have the courage to not be sexually active. My youngest daughter became pregnant the first time she had sex. This was a hard thing for our family to go through (mostly because of the young man), but I still would not have let her be on birth control. I don’t believe in sex before marriage, and would have felt that giving her birth control would have also been giving her consent for having sexual relations. Luckily she had the strength to turn a mistake into a positive in her life. Fourteen years later she is married and the mother of 4 beautiful children which includes the daughter she had when she was 17.

      As for your friend that had the abortion, I am so sorry that she felt that was the best decision for her. I was a victim of incest by 2 relatives, raped by the son of family friends while he was babysitting, and repeatedly raped during my senior year of high school, until I finally had the courage to tell someone. While these were (and at times still are) painful times, I would never have chosen to take a life just so mine MIGHT be better. I could never have lived with myself by doing so.

      I am not against contraception, I myself have used it. I do feel that it should be available at a low cost (and it is at Walmart and other such places), and no one should be judged for using it. Abortion, in MY opinion is wrong, unless the mother’s life is at true risk, but then I still don’t think I could take the babies life to save my own, I might be wrong.

      I also don’t think providing contraception makes you pro-life, because if you are providing abortion, that is NOT pro-life!

      As far as Mr Winder’s statement, maybe too much is being read into it. I took it that he was saying the doctor could help in some way to make sure the pregnancy was actually cased by the rape and not by sexual relations that you might have had before (husband, boyfriend). I personally agree with the legislation, even if it saved just one baby!

      • Dear Penny,

        First let me say that I am sorry that you had such a horrific experience as an adolescent, and I am glad that you told someone! I hope you have found healing from such trauma.

        Hopefully more and more teenagers who are sexually active who face barriers to prescription contraception (such as parents who “forbid” it) know that they do not need anyone’s permission to buy and use condoms.

        You and I will have to agree to disagree about the abortion issue, but I do wonder why my daughter’s friend’s life would be of so little value to those who are pro-life?

        Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my comment.

      • Everyone’s life is important! I’m sorry if you thought I was saying your friends daughter’s life was unimportant. On the contrary, I believe her child’s life was just as important. Since the boyfriend was so abusive, he could have been prosecuted by the law and hopefully out of her life then. The baby could have been born, and placed for adoption if she didn’t want to raise the child. This is just the way I see things. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices that are hard and I realize that this may have been a hard thing for her to do, but in MY opinion, would have been the right thing to do.

        I also know that Jesus died that we might have our agency, and he will be the one to judge us on our acts, not me.

  12. As a person who also faced a pregnancy as a teenager, I can confirm Marci’s description of the shame, terror, and abject fear that comes with that. I did not end my pregnancy, although I was encouraged to by family, and my daughter has been the joy of my life. But it was my decision, and my choice to make legally. I did not need the government to be involved. And because I had access to birth control, I graduated from college as did my daughter. Thank you so much, Marci, for your willingness to share your story and for keeping the focus on ending unwanted pregnancies through women’s health practices, not the interference of the government.

  13. I have met Chuck Winder, and I know him to be serious about his beliefs. I, too, had an unplanned pregnancy, and went to Planned Parenthood for the test. The counselor there spent a long time discussing my options–all of them. At no point was I ever pushed to have an abortion. I am also pro-life. I see no sense in forcing a woman who has already made the decision to abort to go through medically unnecessary testing, regardless of who pays for it. I’ve had a trans-vaginal ultrasound late in my second pregnancy. Your bladder has to be full, and the procedure is uncomfortable at best, and tremendously embarrassing. My church family at the time of my unplanned pregnancy was loving and supportive. Only one lady made any catty comments. As for the rape issue, a rape needs to be reported immediately, and a woman needs to submit to an exam and the physician needs to use a rape kit to get evidence. The pregnancy won’t be known for at least a couple of weeks after.

    • Good points Shirley. Thanks for adding your story to this. The way some politicians have been talking about this issue, you’d think everyone was just clamoring to get abortions and that the only reason women carried babies to term is because they are forced to.

      Even though I didn’t plan my pregnancy, I never for a minute took that life casually. And I can imagine some situations where abortion would have been the only choice I saw at the time. But I had my health. I had the love of my family and friends. I had access to health care. And I had a church who supported me through it all. Not all women are as fortunate as I was.

      Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

  14. Of course any Christian hates abortion. At the same time, our grace and love far outweighs criticisms and judgment. We pray, and do anything to support the woman who finds herself in such a position. To do otherwise is placing women under the law and annuls the awesome sacrifice of Christ. It is a decision that is painful and shameful to treat it otherwise. This
    is a woman who needs support,understanding and certainly not a matter of the law. I pray you mistakenly misspoke.

  15. Marci – if you’re talking about Chuck’s statement, the discussion should be about pregancy caused by rape.

    I think you may have misunderstood what Chuck said in response to your email. He said, “Marci, of course not. I was just saying that the attending physician would hopefully counsel the victim to determine if she was pregnant from a consensual relationship vs a pregnancy caused by the rape. The thought being that knowing the pregnancy was not caused by the rape she may well not want to terminate the pregnancy.”
    First – the topic was about a rape pregnancy, so what he said does not apply to your situation. You wrote, “And never, ever, ever did I need a physician or any other person to counsel me as you are suggesting be done.”
    Secondly – He said the doc would hopefully counsel her to determine if the pregnancy (underscore) could be the outcome of a consensual relationship, not the sex. At no point did he say the doc should question whether she was raped or not…please re-read what he actually said, emphaisis on the word “pregnancy.”
    .
    Example: I was raped in college in the privacy of my home, no witnesses – I didn’t tell a soul. Immediately afterward, I began a relationship with someone who was crazy about me in a forever way. I began to suspect I was pregnant and had no idea whose child it was. If it was my boyfriend’s, perhaps I would have kept the child and married him – at a minimum I would have told him because it was his child too. If it was the child of my rapist, I would have had some decisions to make. This is what Chuck was talking about…having a doc share with a rape victim that there are ways to tell whose child you’re carrying. I fail to see how this is offensive. That’s exactly what I needed as a young, pregnant rape victim who told no one for many of the reasons you listed. (I lost the child to miscarriage)

    Like Alex, I know Chuck, and I know that he would never do or even think some of the things you’ve assumed about him. I think it’s possible for Christians on both sides of the abortion issue to understand one another even if we can’t agree…and walk together honestly, in tolerance without judgement. I would ask you to take another look at what he said, remembering that he was speaking of rape victims, and giving him the benefit of the doubt based on your understanding of grace whether you agree with the bill or not.

    Some good news – the church has come a long way in 20 years in becoming non-judgemental and supportive of pregnancies such as yours. Our pastor’s daughter became pregnant in high school, and our fellowship did nothing but love, accept, celebrate and stand with the families. I think some churches are finally starting to “get it,” although not nearly as quickly as we would like. I appreciated reading your story and admire you for your choice.

    • Angel, Yes, you are correct. I misunderstood him. I had acknowledged that in a comment above, but I have edited the post to reflect that as well.
      Thank you for sharing your illustration. I still claim that we do not need legislation for women to consider this situation. Surely, as you mentioned in your illustration, every woman in such a situation would ask those questions in her own way, as she needed. Any doctor would certainly advise her as best they could to help her figure it out. There is no reason for legislation. And to claim that this legislation is for this particular situation, and is not primarily an anti-abortion-through-public-shame piece of legislation is disingenuous.
      I am sure you are also right. I had a great church back in 1989. I am sure there are many good churches now too. But I have heard too many religious leaders lately who have offered far more judgment than grace. I pray that more women would have the experience I did, and that your pastor’s daughter did. Thanks for your comment.

  16. I just have a couple of comments-first, Thank you Marci for your comments related to the law-second, Our government should NOT be involved in telling us what we can and cannot do with regards to our own bodies-that is a choice best served by only 2-yourself, and our Creator. Allowing state or federal governments to dictate how we treat ourselves is a step towards that long black tunnel of autocracy-where the few are able to tell us what to think, read, express, eat and even when and how we can procreate. It’s been a long time since I lived in Idaho, and Mr Winder was trying to insert his views into the law when I lived there.

    I hope this law is vetoed and struck down as the mistake it is.

  17. Thanks, it’s nice to read a conversation about this topic that’s not overloaded with vitriol and it restores my confidence that there are still a few reasonable, rational people out there.

    As a man insurance covers my vasectomy and Viagra. Yet not women’s contraception. It’s as unfair as this proposed law. Ironic that the bizarre medical ‘demonstration’ today at the Statehouse only featured CONSENTING women. But it is hard to be surprised anymore with Brandi’s stamp.

    Are only women having sex? No…else we’d have no need for the debate about rubbers and birth control. So what is the deal? Is it because men are more likely to be able to have and get away with sex without shame? Is it because the Bible says men propagate and begat?

    Women carry and bear children in our species. Fact. That, more than any other distinction, makes women the deciders. And if no access to abortion exists, then we wind up with unwanted and neglected children in our juvenile and prison systems or bloody coat hangers.

    Mr. Winder’s garment is too snug and has clouded his judgment as a public servant. I continue to hope he, and our Idaho legislature evolve…somehow. We must if we are to make it. And I believe the unconstitutionality of this proposal will be seen and result in its demise.

    Do I favor abortion? No. I am pro-life. I am also pro-common sense. And I want separation of Church and State as the founders declared. Can we please get back to talking about why private prison contracts and IDOC keep getting JFAC increases while we fail to attract and develop the best educators we can find for our children and our infrastructure crumbles?

  18. This is not the first time that abortion has been legislated and even made illegal. Women died because they were not given clean, adequate medical access to this procedure at an alarming rate. We only have to look to history to see how this would fail. All of the lost lives that would result again because we couldn’t bother to learn from our own history. Abortion legality and abortion incidence are 2 very different things. And God forbid one of my daughters have to make the choice that I did but if they have to I want them in a safe sterile medical environment to have it done in. I do not want a rusty wire in a back alley wielded by some charlatan to be her only option. Now we scoff at the idea that something like that can happen but I will tell you that it did and it will again if this legislation is allowed to pass. Please read into our history and spread that information.

  19. Pastor Glass, Thank you for your testament and your courage to offer it.

    I, too, received a personal explanation from Sen. Winder about what he meant by his terribly articulated rape comments in closing debate on his bill. I have know Chuck for many years; and although we are of differing political and spiritual persuasions, I have always found him to be a gentleman. I do not question his motives, but I do seek to understand them.

    Prior to the Senate State Affairs Committee hearing, which I attended, I had written Chuck about my disappointment in him for carrying such a poorly drafted bill that would be overthrown for trying to violate women’s rights to seek and receive without state interference whatever medical advice and treatment they may or may not want.

    After he clarified his rape comments, I wrote back with the following question and comment:

    “Chuck,

    “Thanks for that explanation.

    “What does that have to do with need for a state-ordered ultrasound exam of every women seeking to terminate her pregnancy—especially victims of rape, incest or fetal anomaly?

    “Have you read The Texas Observer story “’We Have No Choice’: One Woman’s Ordeal with Texas’ New Sonogram Law” by Carolyn Jones (linked below)— a first-hand account of what the Texas law similar to SB1387 did to one woman and her family?
    http://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/the-right-not-to-know

    “Mercifully, your bill does not have a 24-hour waiting period. Can you even imagine the anguish a woman like Ms. Jones is forced to go through having to listen to the detailed description of the fetus your bill requires? How can a man use the power of the state to force a woman to endure such shame!?”

    I have yet to hear from Chuck what possible relationship determining the identity of the father of the fetus has to do with requiring a woman to undergo an ultrasound exam prior to terminating her pregnancy. His comments lacked any relevance to the concerns raised in the debate about the need for exemption from the ultrasound requirement in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly or medical emergency threatening the life of the mother.

  20. Pastor Glass, Thank you for your testament and your courage to offer it.

    I, too, received a personal explanation from Sen. Winder about what he meant by his terribly articulated rape comments in closing debate on his bill. I have known Chuck for many years; and although we are of differing political and spiritual persuasions, I have always found him to be a gentleman. I do not question his motives, but I do seek to understand them.

    Prior to the Senate State Affairs Committee hearing, which I attended, I had written Chuck about my disappointment in him for carrying such a poorly drafted bill that would be overthrown for trying to violate women’s rights to seek and receive without state interference whatever medical advice and treatment they may or may not want.

    After he clarified his rape comments, I wrote back with the following question and comment:

    “Chuck,

    “Thanks for that explanation.

    “What does that have to do with need for a state-ordered ultrasound exam of every women seeking to terminate her pregnancy—especially victims of rape, incest or fetal anomaly?

    “Have you read The Texas Observer story “’We Have No Choice’: One Woman’s Ordeal with Texas’ New Sonogram Law” by Carolyn Jones (linked below)— a first-hand account of what the Texas law similar to SB1387 did to one woman and her family?
    http://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/the-right-not-to-know

    “Mercifully, your bill does not have a 24-hour waiting period. Can you even imagine the anguish a woman like Ms. Jones is forced to go through having to listen to the detailed description of the fetus your bill requires? How can a man use the power of the state to force a woman to endure such shame!?”

    I have yet to hear from Chuck what possible relationship determining the identity of the father of the fetus has to do with requiring a woman to undergo an ultrasound exam prior to terminating her pregnancy. His comments lacked any relevance to the concerns raised in the debate about the need for exemption from the ultrasound requirement in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly or medical emergency threatening the life of the mother.

  21. Of all the words spoken on this topic, most of them charged, some of them heated, and a few of them mine, these are the wisest, bravest, and without question the most Christian. Kind truths such as these could only have been spoken in the first hand voice of personal experience and the courage you have shown at sharing them with us is beyond words. While I know that these are hardly the last words on this subject, know that for me they will always be the final word.
    Well done my sister.
    [I hope you are prepared for lots of public quoting]

  22. It also could be a point on his side with the gammit of emotions unplanned pregnancies bring, to focus on the child also. This coming from a woman who was disowned, I am thankful my faith helped me focus on the one who was totally dependant on my decision.

  23. I was hoping that he meant that doctors, not legislators, would be determining if a woman had been raped

    How will a doctor make such a determination? Those who predate Roe vs Wade remember when a jury panel of twelve had to make the determination, not so as to determine if a child lived or died, but if the rapist were convicted or not.

    Let’s not make abortion illegal. Let’s make it unnecessary. Let’s provide access to contraception.

    Can you really believe that there is no access to contraception in the USA? In what country do you live? Are you going by what you are being told are by what you are experiencing? Twelve and thirteen year girls are given contraception in this country! Unfortunately some are taken for abortions without their parents permission when they cannot take an aspirin or tylenol without parental permission.

    Saying we need to make abortion unnecessary, but until we do we must keep it leagal is like saying let’s make murder unnecessary, but until we do, we must keep it legal. For the one who loses their life there is zero difference. Well there are some differences! For what we call murder the person has a face, a name, and they are recognized by being buried and punishing the one who is convicted of the murder in most cases.

    As very wise woman who has now gone on to be with the Lord once said of Americans, “Our rights are killing us.” She wasn’t speaking literally and she wasn’t speaking of abortion but in the case of abortion and the child she was literally correct!

    I doubt this post will get passed moderation. I have posted on other “pro-choice” websites and rarely get posted.

      • I think you are being a little creative with your facts, but thank you for taking the time to read my post.

        Facts are easily checked, if they are facts and not opinions. If I am creative with a fact, I will apologize. I do thank you for posting what I had to say. If I crossed the line, tell me where and I will reconsider. I have given this subject many, many hours of thought and prayer.

        Back in January of this year, during the Republican debate, George Stephanopoulos asked Mitt Romney a question that no one understood at the time. He asked him what he thought about a state banning contraception. Why would he ask Romney about contraception? It wasn’t and had not been an issue. No state has considered doing this. Romey and many others were puzzled at the time. Later we understood when Obama decided to make this a campaign issue. He very slyly did this by first declaring that religious institutions had to offer free birth control to employees knowing that this would go against Catholic Church doctrine. Then he very nobly proclaimed that he would not require them to do so but rather force the insurance company they use pay for contraception. Since some women use abortion for contraception, this means not only Catholics but all Christians will have to pay for insurance for employees that covers abortion even if it is against their Christian faith.When Christians complained the cry went out that those on the right do not want women to have access to birth control or contraception.

        Some Democrats began to talk about how Republicans do not want women to have “reproductive rights”. The worked marvelously for Obama. Everyone seemed to forget that birth control has been free at public health departments, school clinics, Planned Parenthood facilities, for years and can be purchased at a minimal cost at any corner pharmacy for those not on the government entitlement programs or those who do not want to enroll. Most people stopped talking about the national debt, high gas, Bill Ayers, Fast and Furious, Drones killing civilians, socialism, and others subjects and talked about contraception.

        Two things about this frightens me. 1. How did Stephanopoulos, who is supposed to be an unaffiliated media person, know what Obama was planning to do prior to it happening? 2. Why did so many people suddenly decide we do not have “reproductive rights” in this country or even decide that government ‘owes’ this to women? It truly concerns me. Also, I cannot help but wonder how our Lord feels about what we consider to be our ‘right’.

      • Please, do not confuse birth control and contraception. Terminating a pregnancy is birth control; it is definitely not contraception. It is a dangerous confusion.

        I fathered my first two children 50 years ago while in college in Connecticut, where contraception was illegal. It was unlawful to promote, sell, or use “any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception.” That blue law was overturned by the US Supreme Court in 1965 (Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479).

        In early January , Rick Santorum reaffirmed a position that some say lost him his 2006 US Senate bid. He believes the court erred in Griswold v. Connecticut; and while he said he would not have voted for such a law [it had been on the books since 1879], states have a right to pass such laws. Santorum says the activist Supreme Court created rights, like “privacy,” that are not mentioned in the Constitution.

        I do not know whether the president had some “sly” scheme to focus the nation’s attention on reproductive and, particularly, women’s rights. The Republicans seem to be doing a pretty good job of that with their support of an organized effort to pass legislation almost identical the SB 1387 in states across the country.

        People who have lived under such laws don’t need the president or the pleasure police to tell us what’s going on.

      • Gary,
        What Santorum said was that states have a right to pass such laws and that is correct. States do have a right to pass laws that the citizens of a state decide they want their representatives to pass. The Courts also can strike down the laws at a state level or at a national level. That is how our system works.

        What law are you referring to when you say Republicans support an organized effort to pass legislation identical to SB 1387? This is what I mean by facts. They can be checked and if you will give us the number of the proposed legislation, we will be able to check it and then teach everyone here something that perhaps you are the only one who knows or perhaps I am the only one who doesn’t know.

        As for abortion being birth control and contraception not being birth control, I certainly have not heard that before. I am aware that some women use abortion as a method of birth control, but I have always been taught that there are contraceptives used for birth control as well. Abortion is a dangerous and often an invasive procedure. I would not think a health professional would recommend this to a young girl as a safe method of birth control.

      • In regards to a state’s right to outlaw contraception: My point is that the Supreme Court DID overturn state laws banning contraception, and Mr. Santorum criticized the court as “activists” for doing so. While he says he would not impose his personal anti-contraception views on the nation and that he in the past voted for funding contraception for poor women, he also said, “I believe that the better alternative is for abstinence education – for federal funds to be used for that, not for birth control….” Sounds to me like he’d appoint a constitutional literalist to the Court and take us back to 1879.

        I said “Terminating a pregnancy is birth control; it is definitely not contraception.” I did NOT say that contraception is not birth control. It is. Contraception is conception prevention. Contraception and abortion are both forms of controlling birth.

        What aroused my concern was the confusion of these terms in the 5:56 pm, March 23rd, 2012 statement: “Since some women use abortion for contraception, this means not only Catholics but all Christians will have to pay for insurance for employees that covers abortion even if it is against their Christian faith.”

        No one can use abortion for contraception, period. The argument is specious. Eight states restrict abortion coverage in all insurance plans, 16 restrict abortion coverage in plans offered through state exchanges, 15 in public employee plans, and a dozen more have some other sort of restriction on abortion coverage.

        It is of deep concern to me when those opposing health insurance coverage of abortion use an argument like the one above to oppose insurance coverage for contraception. It is totally beyond reason why anyone would oppose making contraception readily available. It’s the only way abortion will ever become unnecessary.

        Ultrasound laws ALMOST identical to Sen. Winder’s SB 1387 are under consideration in the legislatures of Alabama, Pennsylvania and Mississippi. they have been signed into law in Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina and, most recently, Virginia. They have been blocked in OK and NC. The Illinois House passed a similar bill last month, which has been amended in a senate committee. Eleven states have laws like Idaho’s requiring verbal counseling or written materials to include information on accessing ultrasound services.

        These bills have almost all been introduced and supported by Republicans like Mr. Winder carrying them for anti-abortion organizations, which have mounted a nationwide campaign to pass such laws.

        Statistically, carrying a pregnancy to term is much riskier for a woman than an abortion performed under proper medical conditions by trained personnel in a hygienic setting. The risk of death associated with childbirth is 10 times that associated with abortion.

      • I play by my playbook. As I tried to explain, opposition to birth control shas been a concern of mine for 50 years. Anyone who think the issue of health-insurance contraception coverage just arose in January of this year has not been paying attention.

      • Actually, I have payed close attention to the political world since before Obama took office and blogged about the question Stephanopolous asked Romney because I, and many others, wondered what it was all about.

      • The effort to restrict access to contraception predates the Obama presidency and, apparently, your observation by many years. It has been part of health insurance reform discussions for years. Rick Santorum made it a campaign issue last fall, months before Stephanopolous asked Romney about it. The issue was already very much in play.

        “One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about is, I think, the dangers of contraceptives in this country. The whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘Contraception’s OK.’ It is not OK. It’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” he told Shane Vander Hart of “Caffeinated Thoughts,” a conservative Christian blog.

        Again, I suspect that in addition to efforts to reimpose such quaint ideas about sexuality on society, there is something else going on. Some are confused about the distinction between birth control, which can be accomplished by abortion, and contraception, which makes abortion unnecessary. They argue that liberalizing access to contraception, through insurance coverage for instance, will make abortion more accessible.

  24. I really liked your comment that instead of making abortion illegal, let’s make in unnecessary. As someone who is pro-life, that would be my ideal. Unfortunately, until we have unfettered access to contraception for all (even our minor children), competent sex education in schools, tougher child support laws, and a strong support system for single mothers, I don’t see abortion ever being obsolete given the current mindset of our legislators and religious leaders.

  25. Pastor Glass:
    What an excellent job you have done of bringing “more light and less heat” to this complex issue and related discussion. I am an older woman, firmly pro-choice, well aware of the social history that necessitated Roe vs Wade and increasingly fearful that the protection it has provided these many years to women and those who love them is increasingly at risk. Thank you for all you have done in providing this forum for people who struggle to understand both the issue and each other.

  26. A word about comments. I am trying to approve most of the comments that have been submitted. As you can tell by the above comments, agreeing with me is not a pre-requisite. But there are a few and here they are.
    1. If you make disparaging comments about me or my faith journey, I will not post your comment. You are free to write your own blog posts and say what you want on your own blog, but not on mine.
    2. Any comment that implies that having sex outside of marriage is an unforgivable sin will also not get through. Because let’s be clear. My first born child, who is now almost 23 and is a beloved child of both me and God, is here on this earth because of my “sin” (as people have been calling it in unapproved comments.) Where is the room for redemption in that understanding of this issue? How should my son see his life? Even if his life was not planned by me, I refuse to discuss the idea that his life wasn’t planned by God. He is a brilliant, kind, caring, handsome, loving man. Sin, judgment, and punishment do not fit in the equation of his life. Don’t think you can play that judgment game with this momma bear and win.

    I would like to thank the vast majority of the commenters for presenting their views in a way that encourages conversation. I would also like to point out that the comment section of any blog is not the best medium for conversation. And would encourage you to sit down, face to face, with the people in your life to have these conversations. Thank you.

  27. If a Bible Practicing Christian really wants to get literal about it, didn’t the New Testament teach that it was the church’s responsibility to raise and support the fatherless child, which would include children born out of wedlock? If all the people that fight against abortion in the name of Jesus would pay for the 20+ years of expenses for a single mother to raise that fetus to adulthood, maybe that would be the Christian way.

    Since I don’t foresee many people willing to fork over that kind of cash to keep a mother and child together, assuming only the cases of course where the mother really wants the child, why argue against birth control?

    Never in the history of the world, religion, or Christianity did anyone believe the unborn fetus had a soul, not until the 20th century; this is a modern device of thought.

    I bet right now not one percent of the people reading this would accept anyone coming into your car and riding around with you without your explicit invitation; why expect a woman to carry and give birth to an unwanted child, with all the emotional pain, wear and tear on the body and soul…Not to mention the Casey Anthonys of the world who should never be mothers ever ever.

    I applaud this pastor for the comments and viewpoints expressed. Getting people worked up about abortion or birth control is a fine red herring to distract from the real work of the church, like Jesus said, to provide for the poor and fatherless children, to love unconditionally, not just the soul but the body, not children only, but the mothers of the world as well, and the big one, Judge Not Lest ye be Judged…

    If you don’t believe in abortion or birth control, fine, but if you are saying that in religious fervor, show us the money and provide food, shoes, shelter, video games, school lunch money, vaccinations, college tuition etc for those fetuses you “Save.” Children of poverty and/or unwilling parents are the crazy ones we watch on Nancy Grace and say, How did they get to be like that?”

    I just stumbled on this article while looking into local churches to see what they are like. I have no agenda, but was impressed to read the sermon and the way it was handled in emails following.

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