A pro-choice pastor weighs in on mothers and the beginning of life
The pro-life movement is clear about when the life of a fetus begins — but what seems to lurk beneath the surface is a notion that pregnant women are no longer fully human or fully free. Anti-abortion advocates insist that once a woman conceives, regardless of the circumstances, she must choose motherhood — over her physical and emotional well-being, over her vocation, even if it means living in poverty. Even if it kills her.
During this year’s legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed a law banning the most common and very safe abortion procedure used during the second trimester, known as “dilation and evacuation.” Only 11 percent of abortions occur after the first trimester — but since they are more likely to be situations where the mother’s life is threatened, this ban directly endangers women who may already be at risk. The law is under appeal.
Being a white, educated, middle-class woman has shielded me as devastating anti-abortion laws have shut down women’s health clinics across the state — today, 95 percent of the state’s counties do not have an abortion provider. But this newest law may directly affect me; my husband and I are considering having a second child, but at nearly 40, I am at a risky “advanced maternal age.” Heaven forbid I encounter complications. Some politicians might prefer I die than terminate a pregnancy.
For low-income women and women of color, the prognosis is even more grim. The Centers for Disease Control reports that black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the “developed” world, according to a report in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
These latest developments in Texas have reinforced the astonishing barriers American women face in determining their own reproductive freedom. Since the start of 2017, state legislatures across the country have already passed more than 50 abortion restrictions, including waiting periods and mandatory counseling designed to dissuade women from having an abortion. West Virginia and Mississippi have already banned the dilation and evacuation procedure, and similar bans are pending in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Alabama against heavy legal opposition.
As a former Southern Baptist, I know firsthand what it means to be devoutly pro-life, though experience has taught me that abortion is a much more complex issue than often portrayed. The basic limitation of the anti-abortion movement is that it attempts to confront the moral complexity of real life with a rigidly simple set of commandments. I can sympathize with this approach; it is a survival instinct. But it threatens our capacity to experience the abundant life that Jesus promised by holding women’s lives captive to the dictates of public officials.
Parenthood inevitably involves sacrifices. But isn’t there a qualitative difference between sacrifices freely made and those legislated for us? Do we really expect women to sacrifice their lives to bear children? When does a mother’s right to life begin? When does her personhood start?
I am not trying to convince anyone to terminate a pregnancy. I am saying that women’s lives matter to God and to their families, and they ought to matter to politicians. As long as we only define life as the protection of a fetus, we have dangerously oversimplified the issue. Only when we can affirm that a mother’s life need not end for a child’s life to begin can we truly call ourselves “pro-life.”
As reported by the AmericanStatesman’s Tony Plohetski, Josh Williams was running on the hike-andbike trail on the morning of Sept. 15 when he heard a woman’s screams and realized she was being attacked. Williams had a Glock 43 pistol with him, which he pointed at the man and told him to get off of the woman. He said he has been licensed to carry a gun for a decade. Williams’ intervention led to the arrest of 22-yearold Richard McEachern.
Mike Nosker: This is a perfect example of common-sense gun ownership. All he needed was a handgun — not an assault rifle with a bump stock.
Mike Eastman: The assaulter didn’t have a gun. Any man could have jumped on the attacker.
Victoria Clemente: And I’m sure this man received proper firearm training and would pass a background check, like all gun owners should.
Marie Rehbein: Not only did he have a gun, but more importantly, he was paying attention to his surroundings.
Erika Allbright: I’m very glad he was there and took action. But I challenge the implied conclusion that the gun was the only reason the rapist stopped his attack.
Richard Sivage: The important thing he stopped sexual assault, same as NRA member stopped killing with AR rifle did Sunday.
Cheryl Frink: My husband stopped a man who was assaulting a woman on the hike and bike trail several years ago. My husband was a good guy without a gun.
Billie Cooper: Good guy with a gun takes care of business again.
Mike Eastman: A stun gun or Mace could have stopped the attack as well. You don’t need a gun to be a man or a hero.
David Gentry: I am glad this person is OK. But a very in-depth and lengthy study was conducted by Stanford University which showed clearly that good guys with guns don’t stop bad guys with guns.
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Across the country, opinions are sharply divided on abortion. American women face astonishing barriers in determining their own reproductive freedom, writes the Rev. Amelia Fulbright.
Josh Williams, 39, stopped a sexual assault Sept. 15 by drawing a gun on the assailant.