The topic I can't avoid any longer, and what we have to do now
I would say I “converted” to progressive Christianity around 2014, though I’d been flirting with it for at least three years prior. The last time I voted for any sort of conservative candidate in any election was 2012, and even then, it was only in local elections while I voted for libertarian candidates in the main elections. After working at the headquarters of a well-known check cashing organization in Cleveland, Tennessee — one of the few corporations where I could get a social media job at the time — I realized a lot of horrors of economic conservatism. By time I started volunteering at a food bank and coming face-to-face with people who were desperate and poor, all vestiges of my former libertarian economic policy were gone.
I’d been pro-LGBTQ rights since high school, even as a Republican, because I have always found it nonsensical to prevent human beings from having equal rights based on religious reasons — and maybe because I’ve always known that I, myself, am bisexual and ran from that for, oh, years.
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Then I began to educate myself on the Bible, its historical context, and expose myself to Christianity outside of evangelicalism. That was big in my walk toward God, and breaking my heart for those in poverty and injustice.
I gradually developed an anti-imperialist stance — seems that’s a common position among those of us raised in a post-9/11 world where we’ve been at war forever, all our country’s funding is spent on military instead of helpful social programs, and none of us have “won” or accomplished anything from any of it.
But abortion? Abortion was likely my last conservative holdout. I struggled with it, deeply. I accepted the lack of a existence of hell and a non-literal Bible more easily than I accepted abortion. It probably kept me toward conservatism far longer than any other issue. My family’s conservatism was deeply tied to the pro-life movement on a professional and personal level, perhaps more than any other issue other than general patriotism and loving America. I argued pro-life arguments online for years and years.
At the end of the day, I thought it was just killing babies. I thought adoption was an obvious solution. I thought there was plenty of accessible birth control. I thought that as a Christian, if you didn’t value human life, you were missing the point of Christianity. For a while, I adopted a consistent life ethic in my personal politics — common among socialist Catholics, and certainly superior to American-style pro-life philosophy, which is basically “don’t fuck or fuck off and die.”
Now, today, in 2022, I am pro-choice. I am anti-forced birth, to be exact. Would I have an abortion? I had my tubes tied in 2016 as an answer to my polyamory (my husband has also had a vasectomy) but I suppose it could still happen. In which case, I would absolutely have an abortion if it meant that I could die and my kids left without a mother — ectopic pregnancies are far more common in tubal ligations. Otherwise, probably not. That is my choice.
But — and this position is even more radical than the one held by most Democrats — if I were in charge, abortion would be free, taxpayer-funded, accessible, safe, and up to birth. And there would be clinics as part of a county health department, again, for accessibility, even in rural areas. Along with that, birth control would be completely free, we’d have universal healthcare including mental, dental, and vision, we’d have fully paid childcare subsidies until the child was eligible for public school, there’d be free public housing for those who need it, college would be free, and paid parental leave for a year would be the norm. And while I’m imagining this, hopefully, the end result of those social safety nets would be no more billionaires. There is no good reason for a billionaire to exist! And psst: those policies are all proven to GREATLY reduce abortions.
I feel a little embarrassed at arriving at this philosophical position so late — despite voting on the left starting in 2014, I probably wouldn’t have called myself pro-choice until 2016 or so. And I didn’t tell my parents until… well, hey mom. Sorry (but not sorry) mom. I know I’ve been posting pro-choice stuff for the past year, and it’s true. Yep: it was easier to come out to my parents as a communist and as polyamorous than it was to come out as pro-life, just now. But here’s the thing: I really, really thought it was murder. And, I would guess, so do many sincere evangelicals.
It’s easy to paint the pro-life crowd with a brush that they hate women, they don’t care about babies after they’re born, and that they’re trying to bring us back to this complementarian phase where women are forced to stay at home. And for some high-ranking white dudes, maybe that’s true. You know the trope already of the Republican politician who votes anti-choice and then gets abortions for his mistress or get an abortion themselves. Sure — they just like to keep their base going by calling the other side murderers, which is an emotional argument nearly impossible to deflect with logic.
So how did I finally come to this conclusion that no, it’s not murder, and yes, all people deserve a choice? In no particular order, here are things that turned me pro-choice. I think this is an important perspective for pro-choice people to learn (even though the majority of Americans didn’t believe in overturning Roe v. Wade, so this is truly a minority rule position) so that we can continue in the fight toward reproductive justice and liberation.
Having a miscarriage, and being grateful I had a miscarriage, and recognizing that in myself
Hearing stories from people who have had late-term abortions, and the hoops they had to jump through in order to get one, and the fact that people aren’t getting late-term abortions for no reason, like I’d always been taught, and it’s usually a heartbreaking medical reason
Hearing stories from victims of rape, incest, and domestic violence, and how abortion saved their lives — I was always taught there was a high degree of regret in abortion, but actually, there’s not
Learning that abortions and treatments for miscarriage are the same thing, and that many anti-abortion laws outlaw both
Hearing from the majority of doctors and nurses, including Christian ones, that they support legal abortions from their experience
Learning that evangelical Christians weren’t even pro-life themselves until the mid 20th century thanks to segregationist Christians like Jerry Falwell, and the propaganda of the Moral Majority, and aligning with Catholics to get political power
Learning that Jews and Muslims allow abortion in various circumstances, and there is even a Jewish belief that first breath is considered “life” and these are all religious reasons
Watching the horror stories, myriad, of unwanted children and how horrible their lives are in the news and knowing that some people just should not be parents
Learning that pregnancy is way, way more medically risky than abortion and watching the rising maternal death rate, especially for Black women, and that nobody cares or is doing anything to mitigate it
The nerdy reason: in-depth research on bodily autonomy and what it means
I am not pro-murder. I do not believe that it is murder. I do believe that people know their own bodies and their own lives better than I will. I believe doctors, not politicians, should be involved in these decisions.
So yeah, it’s been over a week since Dobbs and the horror stories are already beginning. A ten-year-old in Ohio having to travel to Indiana to get an abortion after she was raped by her uncle, and therapists telling people in Florida that they may have to report people who discuss pregnancy and abortion in their private sessions, because of a mandated report law.
If you’re like me, and you have a legacy of pro-life activism that you need to repent of, there are steps you can take. As a leftist, I have to tell you to get involved in your local abortion fund networks, and LISTEN TO THEM. They knew this was coming, they are prepared, and they have decades of experience. Send messages about anything pregnancy, period, miscarriage, or abortion-related over Signal. Keep everything offline if possible, especially if you live in a state where abortion is now illegal. Stay up-to-date with the news. If you want to protest, I suggest getting involved with far-left groups rather than liberal ones, because peaceful protests outside of government buildings might feel nice but they aren’t necessarily the most effective. I have many other thoughts and opinions, but none of them will I post on a public blog.
Finally, I think, stick it out. I have an urge to flee America, and maybe you do too, but if you can stay put and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves, that’s important. I think my activist friends in red states are extremely brave, and they put their lives on the line for the people who need it every single day. Let’s get this straight: people in red states deserve the same exact rights as people in blue states. Shaming them will never help ANYONE.
I’m an optimist, and I believe liberation will come: from poverty, from fascism, from war. I don’t know what that will look like, but I know what side I’m on. I don’t know if that will happen in my lifetime. I can’t guarantee I’ll stay brave forever, and that I wouldn’t leave the country if I didn’t have the chance to do it. But I know that I want to fight for my fellow Americans.
It’s Independence Day — a holiday that has been essentially meaningless to me for years. Republicans want us dead, and Democrats are going to let them do it. This country was founded on theft, murder, genocide, and slavery. Horrors beyond our comprehension. None of us are free, and many people never were. Acknowledge that.
But I want to envision real freedom and real independence. I believe we can help people who disagree with us, and I believe that we can fight for their rights, too. Christians and conservatives ultimately need access to abortion as much as anyone else, for a variety of reasons. People say things are going to get worse and maybe that’s true.
After things go so far down, they can only go up, right?
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Totally disagree with a lot of this but I hope that’s the point? A civil argument? I’m on the elliptical at the moment after a bout with covid so my brain is not at its best but would love to follow up and discuss! Also, check out my tiny substack: the recovering idealist.