I’ve been thinking about the video at the bottom of this post a lot over the last day. It is stunning to me how correct she is. Painted into a corner: no job, no husband or other support, no job… what would you do? Can you really, honestly say without being there? It has become increasingly clear that those representing us as a nation are unwilling to offer support to those in situations like this. Public healthcare budgets are being cut, housing aid and WIC programs are losing funding right and left. What are women to do, really? Painted into the same corner, I wish I could say that I would definitely choose life, but I don’t think I can. I was trying to put myself in the situation, trying to understand what runs through somebody’s head the moment before they make their final choice, I was trying to understand that level of desperation, and suddenly, I got it.
I got pregnant with my daughter out of wedlock. Her dad and I had been dating on and off for years, and at the time we found out we were going to have a baby, we were more off than on. We briefly discussed abortion, and decided we would just get married and raise our child. However, that wasn’t the easiest choice, nor was it a choice that saved us from a lot of condemnation. I still heard the comments about unwed mothers. I still had to listen to people in my church and at my Christian university cluck their tongues and watch them shake their heads. No, it didn’t feel like a very safe place. We were able to receive a bit of state aid, and luckily we had a lot of help from family and friends, but I began thinking yesterday, what if we hadn’t? What if we had been in a different state, far away from family and friends? What if he hadn’t wanted to stick around and help me? Would we have found the help we needed? Would I have? I’m not entirely sure that the answer to that question is yes.
It seems to me that part of the current crisis is this: in the same breath you cannot condemn people for both sides of the same coin. You cannot condemn them for keeping a child, and condemn them for aborting it. If you cannot offer support and love through an unwanted pregnancy, then you can’t expect women to think of it always as a viable choice. If you want women to keep their children, than you need to stop treating them like lepers and pariahs and start treating them like family, or your dearest friend.
Here is my challenge to those that would condemn women for their unwanted pregnancies. Instead of creating laws that push minutia and ideology over compassion, why not start building up community programs to help those that do chose to keep their children? Give them a safe place where they won’t feel scathing eyes and wagging tongues. Hold their heads through their morning sickness, wipe the tears off their cheeks, be there to swaddle their babies and change a few diapers. Do not force them to accept your God in order for them to receive your aid. Reach out a hand in love. Do not tell them they are going to hell if they do chose abortion; just make your option seem like the easier choice. The old adage, “You win more flies with honey than vinegar,” is absolutely true. You will win more people to your side with love, aid, compassion, and unconditional acceptance than you will with picket signs and laws that do things like force ultrasounds on scared, lonely women.
I most definitely consider myself a Christian. However, I refuse to do the judging for the God I choose to follow. I refuse to believe that I am in any way better than anyone else, and I refuse to put myself on such a pedestal that I can no longer empathize with those around me or offer my unconditional love.
I want to say that this video breaks my heart. There are so many people in pain in this world, and I can’t imagine the salt they must feel pouring into their wounds every hour that people speak to them like they are the scum of the earth. This issue is not just about abortion, it is not just about pro-life or pro-choice, it is about so much more than that. It is about freedom being stripped away bit by bit, it is about women feeling trapped and lost, it is about rapists getting away with horrendous crimes because women are too scared to speak, or the system is too deaf to hear their screams.
In this country, for some reason, victims are being criminalized to the point where they aren’t speaking. Why speak out when you know you won’t be heard? I have a friend, an amazing, amazing man named Matt, who is making a difference in this world. His organization is not strictly related to this specific issue, but he is giving victims a voice, and I thank him for that. As Matt would say, “Speak your silence.” As I would say, “Don’t just speak your silence, speak their silence too.”