This is a tough post to write, but I felt I must write it, and attempt to communicate something that is likely felt by many, but hard to articulate.
I believe for democratic societies to work at their best, women need to be voting, working, speaking players, with economic justice and freedom to make their lives, and their families’ lives, the best they can be.
I believe this for anecdotal reasons, although there are hundreds of studies that point to it. There is a reason why bringing education to women in 3rd world countries improves communities. We know that educated, empowered women makes for a better society for all, and as a nation, we’ve encouraged and sponsored it here and elsewhere.
I also believe that conception is a beautiful and mysterious thing.* And though I personally find abortion an undesirable action, I trust that every woman knows what the right thing is for her — and her entire family— at any given moment.
Make no mistake, making abortion illegal means making normal women criminals. Abortion will always be needed, and dangerously achieved, because of birth control fails, rape, mistakes, coercion, and human nature.
I understand that pro-lifers§ have strong feelings about life beginning at conception, and that all life is sacred. I get that. It is very simple. Yet, I don’t understand how some of these same folks may also:
1) kill insects and animals
2) support the death penalty
3) underfund social programs (like Obamacare and welfare) that support families
4) disallow citizenship for people who were conceived in America
Could limiting reproductive choice have a chilling effect on women’s freedom and potential? It may sound a bit sci-fi-ish, but it becomes oddly dangerous to be a woman of reproductive age if laws go into place that are based on life defined as beginning at conception. As an aside, this chilling effect rarely applies to the males co-responsible for conception.
Making abortion illegal in any form has ramifications: a woman could theoretically be prosecuted for reckless endangerment for eating a hero sandwich or wedge salad** preceding a miscarriage…
It is part of the human condition to live with hypocrisy, yet I want for pro-life§ folks to please:
1) Never have an abortion. Your free speech and (wow, harsh) posters and words are protected.
I want for my government to:
1) Live and let live as long as no harm is done.
2) Keep government small. Never more deeper reaching, like into 50% of the population’s personal space.
3) Make policies that protect individual freedoms and collective health in a non-religious way.
4) Stay consistent in regards to human rights, citizenship, and freedom. Claiming a birthright means you must first have been “born.”
I want for my legislators who are pro-life, to continue to refuse their own personal abortions, and also to safeguard their constituents’ rights by preserving regulations and promoting practices that empower and respect all citizens.
None of us should expect for our moral health to be legislated by our government, or for an indeterminate moment to be the basis of legal code. Our government is simply not built to do this, and if it tries to do this, it will fail and harm hundreds of thousands on the way.
Moral health has always been handled by individuals and reckoned on an individual basis. I have faith that most people’s moral dilemmas are handled well. Guilt is a terrible thing. People avoid it at all costs. And yet decisions to serve the many— or even just to survive— sometimes include dilemmas and sacrifice. We see this in wars throughout the ages. People want to live, and they want to live free. And this is our American birthright.
§ Pro-lifers are more aptly named anti-abortionists, given the ambiguity of personhood start date.
* The scientific moment of conception is understood to be within a two week span of time, not a precise date. Since date of conception is indeterminate, a woman could become a moving target for excess fear, intimidation or prosecution if her reproductive rights are based on legal principal “life begins at conception.” This may sound far-fetched, but please think through the ramifications on your own.
** Doctors consistently tell women to avoid eating deli meats and blue cheese dressing during pregnancy because listeria bacteria is considered dangerous to fetuses.
Special note: If you disagree that empowered, free women are good for society, than legislation that makes family planning harder and hampers health and choice (I.E. the conception model of personhood), could feel right to you. This is your moral and intellectual judgement, which you are free to have. I just hope you are thinking ramifications all way through, especially if you are a legislator who has vowed to uphold the Constitution for the public.