Yesterday was my first time actively participating in an activist event and one whose topic is morally dividing. As I stood there, my tank top plastered to my back with sweat, hearing the outcry of pro-life protesters behind me, I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of fear.
It wasn't because of what they were saying (although their words were horrific), or even that they were so close to our group as they stood on the sidewalk behind a barrier of law enforcement, but rather, it was the thought that so many people I know would be standing on that sidewalk.
I'm not sure if they would be screaming such nasty things, or if they would sit there, silent, allowing these words to pierce the air, these words filled with hate. These words, which hold no empathy for the women who suffer, the women who have to make this choice, who maybe don't want to, but feel as though they have no other choice. And they could blame the woman for engaging in sex, saying how she's responsible for this life she just so happened to create, but a woman doesn't create a child alone. Men are also responsible for causing pregnancy, as it is impossible for a woman to get pregnant on her own unless she uses non-traditional methods.
But then, even that argument brings up the idea that men should choose, whether or not a woman gets an abortion. But if that man is not actively in that woman's life, if he has left her to deal with this on her own, then what gives him the right to say anything at all, especially if he refuses to give her any support?
And I'm not disagreeing with those who are pro-life. The divide that this issue creates causes my stomach to churn, as I fear not only for the women but also for the unborn lives involved. Being raised as a Christian, I have grown up toeing the line between being pro-life and being pro-choice. But I know that I alone cannot prevent unwanted pregnancies, or abortions, or people engaging in sex. Christians and those living in the South attempt to preach and spread the idea of abstinence, but even in Christian circles, multiple statistics state that a majority of Christians today have sex before marriage, and a lot of them believe in using contraceptives to do so.
In order to prevent as many abortions from occurring, those who are against it should rally support for increased use of contraceptives and do away with signing abstinence contracts as well as preaching that abstinence is the only right way to fully prevent pregnancies. In fact, and this may be the deranged side of me talking, but if there were laws put in place that only married individuals (or those who are actively trying to have children) could have sex without using contraceptives, abortions would decrease exponentially. Of course, one would have to take into account that not only do a lot of birth controls cause problems for women, but also that there are not as many birth control methods for men, and that is where the issue lies.
I say this, speaking as a woman who, not only is a Christian but one who has never had an abortion. I also deal with a medical issue that prevents me from having sex at this moment, and that is something that I am both grateful for but also terrified about. If I am not able to fix this medical issue, then there will be no way for me to have my own children, at least in the traditional sense. Adoption and foster care in the U.S are also riddled with abuse, and this abuse is not prevented merely because the system is overrun, both with kids that were given up and with social services that have too many caseloads on their hands.
So why don't those pro-life people fight to have better adoption or foster care systems? Why don't they fight for better healthcare opportunities, ones that prevent a number of unplanned pregnancies from occurring?
As a woman who believes in a woman's right to choose, who doesn't believe in shaming people for their choices, who believes in treating those that have to deal with the choice of abortion with empathy and kindness, I don't understand why either side, pro-life or pro-choice can be so hateful.
We are both fighting against each other when we should be fighting for the same rights for women, albeit in different sectors. We should band together, stand up, fight back against these restrictive laws.
We should treat each other with more kindness, empathy, and understanding. We should come from a place of lesser judgment, because as a Christian, at the end of the day I say, only God can judge me for the choices I make in my life.
I just hope, pray, that my God speaks from a place of love, that he is forgiving of me.