Listening to my friends who voted differently than I did, and who voted for more of a president who brags about “grabbing pussy,” I am told they were voting on a single issue: “pro-life,” i.e. anti-abortion. What they don’t seem to realize is by casting a blind eye toward the behavior of the current administration, they (maybe inadvertently?) chose to endorse racism, sexism, misogyny, hegemony, lying, bullying, narcissism, locking up children at borders, destroying the very environment that supports (and is!) life, and approving of authoritarianism if not downright fascism. Apparently all those things are ok options for the unborn to face?
As I listen to them, I realize they don’t understand where I stand, and assume I think things that I don’t, much like I did for them. So after a little wrestling with myself, and in the spirit of understanding each other, with no intention to argue or debate, I’ve decided to explain my thinking, because I assume you want to heal the divide that is in this country as much as I do. So here goes!
I am pro-life in my desire to defend the environment, grapple with climate change, and stop the extinction of species. We’ve lost half of the earth’s species in the last 40 years, with that number rapidly escalating. I want to defend nature, but the current administration repealed the clean water act and the clean air act, in favor of short term business gain. Apparently they think water and air are expendable, which as pro-life I feel is blatantly unacceptable, since they are the very ingredients that make life at all possible. I’m pro-life because I desire to stop the devastation already caused by climate change, pollution, rampant fires, unbreathable air quality and toxic waters. I am pro-life because I hope to support as a first priority the trees and oxygen and water that nourish us. I’m pro-life because I don’t want to sell off the legacy of our priceless national parks to short-lived mining interests, which will quickly and irreparably tear them to shreds. I’m pro-life because I think we should wean ourselves from fossil fuels, and shift our focus to clean, renewable energy. I am pro-life because I want to protect land and climate, trees and bees, without which we perish.
I am pro-life too because I want to protect our children. I live near Sandy Hook, and feel the ongoing pain of those families whose children were mown down by assault rifles, which because I am pro-life, I think should be banned. Our children are murdered at a higher rate than our soldiers, with no defense in sight. I’m pro-life because I want that to stop. I’m pro-life too because I do not want children caged up at borders. I desire to prioritize the children who are already here with joyful and nurturing services, education, protection, consideration, and love.
I am pro-life because I think good healthcare should be available to all, and not only the rich. (I’m pro-choice about whether you want to use it or not, but it should definitely be available.) I’m pro-life because I believe people shouldn’t die just because they are poor. I am pro-life because I expect leadership in a time of pandemic, and I wear a mask to help curb it and protect my neighbor. I am pro-life because I support family planning, maternity and paternity leave, and childhood services to support healthy families and children.
I’m pro-life because I believe organic food should be a norm for our planet and our health. I am pro-life because I believe our planet and health come before corporate interests. I’m pro-life because I think we should ban the use of poisonous chemicals like Round-up in agriculture, which sickens and eventually kills the consumer, while it wildly benefits the corporation. I’m pro-life because I feel that food should be grown to maximize nutrition instead of profits. I’m pro-life because I realize monoculture is damaging on so many levels, and I know that both the earth and our bodies need a wide variety of whole foods produced sustainably instead.
I’m pro-life because I disagree with the court decision called Citizens United; I do not think a corporation qualifies as a person. I’m pro-life because I believe representatives of people, not corporations, should be the ones to influence policy and law. I’m pro-life because I think billionaires should pay more taxes than the poor. I’m pro-life because I think we should work on an economy that helps everyone, and not just the rich. And even given all the other reasons I’m pro-life, I also think that there is plenty of room for capitalism to flourish within what is sustainable, healthy, and equitable. I’m pro-life in thinking we can and should have an economy that works for everyone, especially the 99%.
I’m pro-life because I believe in the transformative power of the arts to enhance our quality of life, as well as the importance of public broadcasting for programming not governed by money and private interests. Both of these have been slashed by this current administration. I am pro-life because I think education in this country should both be improved and be made more accessible, and that burdening the college aged with crippling debt is not the best way to spur this country on to greater heights.
I’m pro-life because I embrace diversity in people, whether in my own country, or out there in the world. I am pro-life in that I believe in equal opportunity for all, even if you are different or poorer than me. I’m pro-life because I believe in working together for solutions, for many of our challenges are increasingly global or cross-cultural. I’m pro-life because I believe that you respectfully believing and loving as you do does not endanger me; I accept that if I let you do you, I get to do me, and that each of us knows best what we need, and are an integral part of the whole. I am pro-life by believing that together–especially through truth-telling and education– we can solve the huge problems facing us, which to me are peace and justice and sustainability. I’m pro-life in that I want to get this done fearlessly, lovingly, and graciously, with everyone’s individual deep authenticity in tact, unthreatened, and untrammeled.
And once our planet and sustainability and health and children and arts and education and economy –for all life that is already here– are totally thriving, then maybe we can look at the issue of the unborn. I submit to you no one ever wants an abortion, but they see it as a lesser evil, and whether we agree with their assessment or not, they are likely to still resort to it unsafely if it were outlawed.
Consider this scenario. Since men are responsible for every unwanted pregnancy, and vasectomies are reversible, maybe we should legislate every young man to get one in order to minimize the need for abortion. When a man reaches various agreed upon benchmarks, such as marriage, mental and financial stability, fidelity, etc, they can reverse their vasectomy, and enter a limited window of childbearing years, before returning, at another benchmark, to another vasectomy.
That could largely solve the problem. But why will that never happen? Because those men who are responsible for every unwanted pregnancy would never let the state tell them what they must do with their bodies. (They’d probably argue too that it is a slippery slope; maybe next the government will mandate all of us get microchips implanted or make our medical decisions for us.) There would be an outcry that the government should not interfere with their autonomy over their own male bodies.
So what people think of as pro-choice, is really about pro-equality and body sovereignty, which to me is also pro-life on the deepest level. If you don’t honestly consider the vasectomy scenario as a solution to your anti-abortion concerns, then what you are passionate about is patriarchy and the subjugation of women instead. To me, that stance is not pro-life for anyone. Male and female, we need jurisdiction and control of our own bodies as the most inviolate, fundamental right. We do not need the government to do it.
Therefore, I choose compassion, morality, integrity, education, truth telling, equality, diversity, clean air and water and food, healthy bodies, planet, and children, mutual respect, safety, kindness, decency, dominion over my own body, and especially peace and sustainability. To me, this is choosing life. Those are my priorities, and I am emphatically “pro-choice” every bit as much as I am pro-life.
One of my definitions of God is that God is Life itself. But this country has freedom of religion, and we do not dictate what others are to believe. This country was founded on that, and separation between church and state has been, and still is, essential. I don’t want my beliefs to be legislated, and I don’t want to legislate yours. I did not always believe in God, so I am particularly sensitive to the need for freedom of belief to be defended as a basic tenant, regardless what they are or are not. Remember I believe in diversity? I really do, because life itself is very diverse, and this underscores each one’s need to decide for themselves what is best for their own body.
So let’s take our stewardship of the life that is already here more seriously. Let’s educate and be proactively pro-life in the ways I enumerated that make life good and worth living. Let’s vote for leaders with moral integrity, instead of one that by their very womanizing behavior encourages a culture where abortion is more needed. Let’s make a world worth bringing a child into. There are lots of ways to support people to not find themselves between the rock and the hard place that ends in abortion. Let’s help each other by being supportive and compassionate toward one another far before abortion is even a perceived need or concern. It starts with cultivating honorable character as a universal global norm, and emphatically choosing sustainability, meaningful fulfillment, genuine caring, and peace. I am pro that choice.