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Monday, October 17, 2016

Stop Calling Me A Killer

    This is a post that I've ruminated over in my head for several years. It will include very personal details that I have hesitated to share but now I feel it's time because so much is at stake with this election. I have heard so many of my evangelical acquaintances state that they feel they must vote for Trump because it's the only ticket that isn't full of "baby killers", meaning that it doesn't support legal abortion. A second concern embedded in this position is what is at stake as regards the nomination of supreme court justices for the coming period, again, much of this focused on the issue of legal abortion.
     My position on legal abortion is that I am pro-legal. I refuse to use the words pro-choice and pro-life because both are inadequate descriptions of what lies at the heart of legal abortion. Being pro-legal does not make me a baby killer and I am so tired of that accusation being levied at national leaders because they also support the legal practice of abortion. We can argue for days on end about why I don't believe that abortion is the same thing as murder and on this point my detractors and I will never see eye to eye. It's a fundamental difference of opinion for which there is no easy or clear answer. Unwanted pregnancies are painful for all involved. And dare I say that no one I know who supports legal abortion is pro-abortion. In my experience as a pastor, when I encountered young woman who were pregnant with an unwanted child, I talked extensively with them about their options, their resources, what it would mean for them to birth the child, if they had enough support surrounding them, what it would mean for them to give the child up for adoption. And then, if they felt the only way out of the sad and tragic situation was to end the pregnancy, I also promised to hold their hand and see them through what would likely become one of the most devastating days of their lives. No man will ever face the life changing realities of bearing an unwanted pregnancy. The choices are just not the same for men. And so we must be careful about how we dictate to women what they should and shouldn't do. Abortion is costly but so are unwanted children and most of the ardent anti-legal folks I know are not willing to walk alongside those who face the incredibly difficult decision to either carry to term or terminate. Let me be utterly clear: No one likes abortion. No one celebrates abortion, but some realize that bringing a child to the fullness of life under such circumstances that would prevent them from thriving in the fullness of life once born creates a painful reality for some that leads them to terminate the pregnancy before it becomes a full blown human life. No, I do not believe that the living DNA that is formed in the womb is the same thing as a life that is breathing outside of the womb. And here's in part why.
     What makes being called a baby killer so painful is the reality of my infertility. My husband and I tried for years to conceive a baby and were unsuccessful in these attempts. The last attempts were done via in vitro fertilization while we were living in Sweden. We had a very good process of harvesting my eggs and the Drs. were optimistic that this procedure would yield a healthy pregnancy and eventually a baby for us. But alas, both attempts failed. There were leftover created embryos that we chose not to use because after two attempts the risks for an unhealthy or miscarried pregnancy increased dramatically and frankly, by this time we were emotionally spent. So we left our DNA frozen in the Swedish hospital. I do not consider whatever happened to that DNA murder in any way. It insults me more than you could ever know to think that we would murder our babies when we longed for a child for so many years.
     Because here's the thing with that DNA. It's not our children. It's not alive. We didn't celebrate birthdays or Christmas. We didn't take photos of it and watch it grow, see it go off to school, graduate, and maybe get married. Our DNA will never produce grandchildren for us. WE DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN so how in the world could I ever believe that even if what is happening in the womb is life in some form, it is the same thing as a living, breathing, thriving baby?
     I understand why legal abortion is such an affront to people. But I also hope that those same people can offer some measure of understanding and empathy to those who feel it is a necessary, legal procedure in order to preserve the life of the woman making the choice and even for the unborn. For in making the transition from unborn to born, the anti-legal position must be willing to ensure that the born have a chance to thrive in the fullness of living, breathing, human life otherwise they too are guilty of killing...for they kill the potential ability of the woman to create a better life for herself and they kill the hopes and dreams of a child who is born into an unwanted situation where poverty, disease, and neglect might represent a less than bright future for them.
     So please, stop referring to those of us who believe that abortion should be legal as baby killers. There are few things that offend me more deeply than that. And when you call Hillary Clinton Killary, remember, you are calling people like me the same. When you talk about the slaughter of innocent babies in the US, remember that my womb, even when implanted with an embryo, never brought forth a baby so I find the reference repugnant. And if you are anti-legal, please do something to help women see their pregnancies through by offering financial and emotional support either to help them keep their child or helping them find the strength to give it up for adoption. Without these things, your empty rhetoric about life sounds ridiculous to me.
     Finally, if indeed you are voting for Trump because he's "pro-life" I urge you to think again. Trump tramples on human life through his actions of disrespecting women and plowing over employees. Perhaps he's even impregnated some "throw away" woman along the way and I'm confident that he would not hesitate to recommend an abortion in that situation. He is verbally abusive to most any human being who doesn't fall in line with him. His campaign has represented the worst of human life so don't fool yourself into thinking that you can discard all of his incompetence and brash behavior and justify your vote because he isn't a "baby killer." As for the Supreme Court...well, given the rigorous process of approval any candidate has to go through, I think it's safe to say that most justices won't be hanging out on either end of the political spectrum. More and more, we're headed for the middle and that is why I just don't think the issue of appointing justices justifies a vote for Trump.
I'm sure I won't change minds with this post, but maybe it will encourage some to ratchet down the rhetoric around abortion and killing and at least encourage us to create a far more civil dialogue than this election has given to us. But to those who are anti-legal, just remember those of us for whom conception, birthing, and parenting have painful associations and so to refer to us as baby killers just pours more salt into an already gaping wound.