A few weeks ago, I wrote about my struggle with the narrow categories of “pro-life” and “pro-choice”. You can read that post here. I received some comments from people who questioned how I could take God’s command to choose life seriously if I were in favor of legal abortions.
And this weekend, I received a message on Twitter from one of my good friends from my trip to the Middle East in 2006. He and I don’t agree on much theologically, or probably politically either, but I am so thankful for his friendship. We had great fun and spirited discussions on our Middle East tour, and I am thankful for those opportunities that bring me into dialogue with people who hold very different views than I do. He wrote:
I’m really not trying to pick a fight, I have a legitimate question: How do you reconcile a biblical understanding of the sanctity of human life, with a strong pro choice view? I just can’t do that and I’m respectfully asking from a biblical worldview perspective how do you?
So, I’ve been thinking about how to reply to his question, but I can’t do it in 140 character twitter posts.
Let me start with this. I did “choose life”. I have been pregnant three times, and I carried all three of those pregnancies to term. I am thankful for each of those lives who are making this world a better place by their presence.
But I only had three pregnancies because I had access to birth control, and because my husband had a vasectomy after our last son was born.
So my husband and I were able to choose when I got pregnant (more or less, you know what I mean–we were able to choose when we did not want to get pregnant might be a better way of saying it).
And it made me realize that abortion should not be seen as the primary issue. Abortion is a secondary issue. Conception is the primary issue.
(Will wait for you to read the article….elevator music is playing….welcome back).
My point on being pro-life and pro-choice is if we provided birth control to women who want it, abortion rates would go down. If we provided economic and social policies that helped women rise out of poverty, abortion rates would go down.
This same friend who asked the above question, shared a link to this article about “gendercide”, or the infanticide in cultures where female children are not valued. And I agree with my friend that it is appalling that in this world today people are choosing to abort female fetuses, or are killing female infants. Appalling. No two ways about it.
But abortion and infanticide are, once again, not the primary issue. They are the secondary issue. The primary issue is a culture that doesn’t value women, and states it so clearly that it creates a world where killing female babies seems a good idea.
I believe in this coming election in the United States that we had better pay attention to how the candidates speak about women.
Do they need people to hand them “binders full of women” so they can find qualified women to hire?
Do they think that women’s bodies can prevent “legitimate rape” because our uteruses can “shut the whole thing down”?
How do they feel about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009?
Are they pushing for legislation that would require spousal consent before abortion? This seems to me to be less about “choosing life” and more about finding ways to keep women subjected to men. The vast majority of women are in conversation with the fathers of their fetuses, of course. Everything about this disturbs me.
Or, and here’s a new addition to the seemingly never ending list of politicians to avoid, there is the Senate candidate who claimed that pregnancies that resulted from rape were what “God intended.”
Issues that affect women affect us all, men and women, boys and girls. So pay attention to what the candidates say about these issues.
And the reality is, if we want to “choose life”, we ought to be embracing policies that set aside our own personal moral choices (ie, “people shouldn’t have sex outside or marriage”) and we should embrace the idea that conception is the sacred act. How can we create a culture where all of the babies who are conceived are wanted, loved, and valued?
Before abortion was legal in this country, women still had abortions. Women subjected their health and their lives to prevent pregnancies they didn’t choose. This all happened before my time, and if it happened before yours as well, I invite you to read about Margaret Sanger.
If we make abortion illegal again, as the Republican Party leadership is vowing to do, it will not make abortion go away. It will only endanger the health of the desperate women who subject themselves to desperate measures.
Because abortion is the secondary issue. Conception is the primary issue.
And for those of us who claim that “choosing life” is a Biblical instruction, we need to attend to that primary issue.
We need to educate our daughters and our sons about birth control and about what it means to be in sexual relationships.
We need to make sure women have access to birth control.
We need to help women rise out of poverty so that economics don’t get in the way of their desire to choose life.
We need to value women. From equal pay in the work place, to infanticide across the globe, the devaluing of women does not help us “choose life”.
My friend’s question was also about Biblical views. And in addition to the Biblical instruction to choose life, I look to the Biblical instruction to care for the widow and the orphan. I look to the way Jesus treated women with respect and showed their value. I look to the role women played in the Book of Acts, as early leaders of the church.
So, to the people who left comments on the first post, and to my friend who asked the question, I’m not sure if I have answered it, but this may be the best I can offer on a Monday.