The recent Women’s March was the single-day largest protest in U.S. history. Marcher’s reasons were diverse, but reproductive issues were front and center. Many want to frame the options as either “Pro-Choice” or “Pro-Life,” but I believe that moral women can have sincere beliefs along a continuum, and that women—not the government—should make reproductive decisions in line with their own moral compass.
1000 SHADES OF GRAY
Having been raised as a strong Catholic, I started out being very pro-life, and even at one point joined the National Right to Life. But as I started reading their literature, I realized that they saw life in black and white. Abortion was always bad, and choosing life–regardless of the situation–was always the right choice.
I believe that we live in a world filled with shades of gray. My views were solidified when I went into labor with my third child. Our son had a rare congenital birth defect, and the doctors told me that no matter what they did, my baby would die. My husband and I agreed that we wanted our son to be born alive and to be baptized. But we saw no reason to put our baby on life support, which only prolonged the inevitable. But my choice was not honored. As a mother, standing over my child in the NICU for a week, I felt that he suffered and experienced pain. I was angry that my choice was not honored.
After that situation, I became strongly pro-choice. I believe that in those agonizing situations, where there is no quality of life, that the decision to end life should be up to the mother, after consulting with her spouse, her doctor, and her conscience—not the government.
WHEN DOES LIFE BEGIN?
I’m a pro-choicer who believes that life begins at conception. Many forms of birth control end life by not allowing the fertilized egg to implant, in effect starving the baby to death. A few of my Catholic friends believe that the only acceptable forms of birth control are abstinence, barriers methods, and rhythm. That worked well for my mom, who ended up being pregnant 9 times in 10 years in the 1950s. No wonder women at the march chanted, “Hell No. We won’t go back to the 1950s.” Five of her babies died. In retrospect she felt that had she used a more effective form of birth control to space her children, more of those babies might have lived.
If we start down the slippery slope of not allowing abortion after 3 months, then will pro-life advocates want to criminalize all abortion, including all hormonal forms of birth control including the pill? If taking an unborn life is wrong, then I really can’t see the rationale for the government drawing some arbitrary line in the sand, like when the baby can experience pain. Do we really know when a baby experiences pain? And what difference does it make?
WHEN DID DISRESPECT FOR LIFE BEGIN?
One of my hiking buddies said that disrespect for life began with abortion. But throughout history, people have murdered, raped and pillaged. Cain took Abel’s life. The bible says nothing about Eve having an abortion. Abortion is not the ultimate evil. There are many forms of evil, including sexual assault of women, lying, and disrespecting people of other races, religions, or political beliefs.
I sincerely hope that women with diverse beliefs will find common group on reproductive issues. There is too much division in our society. Blessed are the peacemakers.