Is Pro-choiceness Next to Godlessness?

24 Mar

Since becoming more involved in the pro-choice movement, a startling trend has come to my attention: the tendency on the part of the antichoice movement and its members to assume that the prochoice movement is without God. In many cases, not only is it assumed, with no evidence provided, that we are without God, it is also assumed, and stated as fact, that we are, as a uniform whole, anti-God, and anti-religion. This came to my doorstep when an antichoice blog made the following analysis of my belief system based on one of my previous posts:

Nevertheless, at the end of her last paragraph Kaitlyn unknowingly paraphrased Scripture, which I’m sure would horrify her. And that is Proverbs 24:16, quoting the Message Translation: No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet…

Blogger in question was referring to this quote about the anti-choice movement: “Whatever fights they lost this round, they will be back to fight again.”

Upon reading that I wondered, who says I “unknowingly” paraphrased scripture? And if I had done so “unknowingly,” why would that horrify me? I find Scripture quite beautiful. And as someone who loves books – and I realize here Scripture, the sacred writings, are different than the Bible itself, but the point remains – I have a great deal of love and respect for the Bible. For one thing, it contains some of the coolest stories ever told; for another, it was the first book ever printed on a printing press, the invention I feel most shaped our society and certainly, my life.

Then I wondered, should someone tell them I’m Jewish?

I understand that the blogger in question and I would probably disagree, intensely, on many aspects of and questions around religion, and I have no problem with that. Within the prochoice movement itself there are a million views on these questions, and those open discussions are one of the reasons I feel so blessed to work within it. My question is, from whence comes this assumption that I, as a pro-choicer, would be horrified to be associated with religion, or, more to the point, God (the fact that the two are not to be conflated is VERY relevant to the prochoice movement and, you know, everything, I think, in the world)? Since I am not, personally, at all horrified, it is certainly not because I ever gave any indication that this is the case. One of the things I see at play here is righteousness. If we do, as prochoicers, believe in God, it is not THE God, not the RIGHT God, not the REAL God, because OBVIOUSLY the one true God does not look kindly on abortion. But I take issue with this. I do not know what lies in this life or the next, whether there is or is not a higher power which guides us, and if there is, what that higher power believes or holds to. The reason I do not know is that to know would be to assert, unequivocably, that what I believe as a fallible human being is correct. Being certain of one’s correctness, in matters waaaaay the eff over the heads of us mere mortals, is known as pride, and I don’t think I need to quote Scripture here to remind us all what pride goeth before.

Oh, alright, for all you Godless prochoicers out there: the fall. Pride – the belief in the infallibility of one’s convictions and ideas – that shit goeth. before. the fall.

The blogger also had some other ideas about what I might think of things. This, again, was based on no evidence I have in any way provided, but more an inference that I can only assume comes from the deep knowledge of right(eousness) that lies in this blogger’s heart:

Kaitlyn will definitely not like the end of that verse:

… while the wicked end up flat on their faces.

This begs the direct question of why I would not enjoy that verse, which I take as an implication that I would not enjoy it because I am, naturally, the wicked in question. And wicked I may be, friends. Human, absolutely, fallible, as previously stated. But I would never make an assumption about another person’s moral aptitude or failings in this way. Assumptions about whether or not they’re a complete asshole, ok, probably. But trust that I would always be glad to be proven wrong, and open to that possibility. The “definitely” used in the quote above does not indicate the blogger in question feels so open-minded about my chances of salvation.

What you’ll notice, here, is that the Scripture in question refers to the God-loyal, not the religious, and certainly not the religious of any particular stripe or denomination. Since the person has clearly read our blog, I would think they would have come across just a few of the many, I think, fascinating discussions that go on around religious structures and institutions – which is what I specifically referred to in my blog post – and the question of women’s health and access. Like most of the planet, the amazing group of bloggers I work with here bring their personal experiences to bear in questions of religion and God, questions informed by things like the Catholic Church’s condemnation of a 9 yr old girl who had an abortion after being raped, for example. These are complex and difficult issues with which every person with every manner of belief system grapples. How, then, does one draw the conclusion that religion and God are not in our work? Not ever? Not despite the millions upon millions of people who do prochoice work? How is it possible to cast a blanket assumption that NONE of those people believe, or question, or invest, or hold faith with God or religion?

The evidence provided by many thoughtful works that examine the links between abortion, God and religion from many angles and perspectives would actually suggest the opposite. For example, BeliefNet says of the Biblical basis for being prochoice, “The Book of Exodus clearly indicates that the fetus does not have the same legal status as a person (Chapter 21:22-23).” Brian Elroy McKinley completely takes apart any argument that the Bible speaks in opposition to abortion, states “Abortion is biblical,” and observes that what antichoice arguments about abortion and Scripture usually reveal is that the people most frequently quoting the Bible haven’t read it. There are even active “pious and prochoice” movements pushing back against the fictional monopoly on morality that the antichoice movement has claimed.

I’m not looking for a direct argument on belief systems. What I am saying, in short, is that there is a place for abortion in religion, and a place for religion in abortion, for anyone who makes the choice (pesky word!) that this is best for them. There is room for God, I am made to understand by people who make room for God, in everything anyone could wish. Questions around God and religion and the various interrelated meanings are subjective and personal, and I feel no need to make assumptions or judgments about that in anyone’s life or work. I will thank the antichoice movement to do the same.

Now, in closing, I would like to say that when someone wrongs me by, for example, making assumptions about my belief system based on nothing I can see by way of evidence, I am tempted to give back a little of what I get in kind. I might, say, follow-up “Should someone tell them I’m Jewish?” with something like, “Because they would just HATE that,” thus allowing the reader to make the connection and assumption that I have made, correctly or not, that this person is a crazy right-wing evangelical, and therefore hates Jews, because all crazy right-wing evangelicals do. Or after a discussion of the evidence I am using to build an argument, I might say, “You know, evidence – that thing antichoicers hate so much.” But I endeavor not to do these things. I find them counter-productive, and I feel they undermine my point and create holes in my thoughtful argument where there need be none. I encourage the people who fight in the prochoice army under the banner of freedom for all to join me and do the same. For all you Godless prochoicers out there, that’s called turning the other cheek.


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