TW: Mention of abortion, pregnancy loss, sexual violence, spiritual manipulation and abuse i.e. purity culture and prosperity doctrine. Reader discretion is advised.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ll have seen the decision by the Supreme Court in America, not to block the draconian anti-abortion law now in effect in Texas.
This law, SB8, effectively bans all abortions after 6 weeks, with no exception for rape and incest. To add to these awful matters, it is now possible for people in and out of the state of Texas to sue anyone seeking and or aiding a person getting an abortion for damages of $10,000. There is a site where citizens can anonymously rat people out for money in an attempt to help the state government enforce the law.
If you have seen my Twitter page recently, you’ll see that I am furious. I’m seething and heartbroken for the countless people with a uterus now unable to get healthcare they need, enacted by conservative Christians with the argument of protecting life, when it does anything but.
It makes me so angry, not just as a woman with a uterus, but as a Christian as well. It’s not uncommon for fellow Christians to be against abortion, be it generally or for themselves while respecting the autonomy of others. This can be done by using birth control (before anyone starts going all ‘No sex before marriage’ the vast majority of Christians have premarital sex) or if you’re more old school, abstaining until marriage.
But what irks me so much, is that folks like Greg Abbot, the Republican Governor of Texas, and his supporters, are claiming this is to ‘protect life’, when:
- Texas is the death penalty capital of the USA of prisoners.
- The state has one of the highest parental mortality rate for those who’ve given birth in the West (disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous and people of colour)
- Has some of the most lax laws concerning guns in the country.
So I find it rather contradictory, in fact hypocritical, to ban necessary healthcare but not actually work at protecting life in his state when it comes to execution and protecting expectant parents, along with tackling the staggering rate of shootings in the US from guns.
As this law is in its early stages, I’m yet to find any information if SB8 applies to people who have lost a pregnancy and need the necessary surgery to remove the dead fetus from them, so as to prevent infections and even death. If not, that is especially horrifying. As I’ve heard cases from people who have been denied surgeries in other states after losing a pregnancy, as the surgery itself would be technically classed as an abortion and therefore, against the law in their state, this possibility particularly worries me.
I’ve always been pro-choice. Always have been. Always will be. Since becoming Christian, this view has not changed. Though for me, it made me even more mindful about certain matters. My faith has fuelled my firm belief in trying one’s best to look out for others, and in sex positivity and comprehensive sex education to name but a few. As many know, abortion is debated and polarised even within Christianity, ranging from the flat out ‘no abortion in any cases’ as we see in SB8, to pro-choice Christians.
I want to make clear that while I speak a lot about how I approach my faith, I have absolutely no desire to force my religious beliefs on to people. I find it abhorrent. And this is exactly what I take issue with in SB8. It is undertaken by fellow Christians (many of them fundamentalists) who interpret abortion in a very conservative manner (including the justices on the Supreme Court who allowed this law to take effect, such as Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett) and in turn, is forcing their own take on to others with no regard for the medical ramifications it will cause, as well as that person’s own social and/or religious beliefs. As a person, but also as a Christian, this horrifies me to my core.
It angers me how Christian Nationalism and Dominionism (the belief that America should be a Christian nation governed under interpretations of Biblical laws) is the driving force for legislation like this. It angers me how anyone would think this is a good idea. It goes into a much deeper systemic issue in the Christian community (in this case, the US) of extreme, controlling views, spiritual manipulation and abuse to put in laws that harm others, but benefit them in power and control. Validating their beliefs at the cost of others. Only their beliefs matter, so any others must simply fall in line or face punishment. From what I have read from survivors of certain groups and churches that preach similar doctrine, it is my personal opinion that it is solely for control’s sake, rather than actually caring for one’s neighbour and worshipping.
It angers me how when this is done in the name of ‘religious freedom’, it translates in to ‘preferential treatment or us in charge’, with no regard for the liberties of other religions’ approach to abortion (i.e. Judaism and Islam) and the non-religious who may need an abortion for whatever reason. We are taught to look after others and not force our beliefs on to others, but this seems to have completely gone out of the window.
Even other Christians are at the mercy of this if they do not subscribe to this particular brand of Christianity: More often than not, it’s very conservative with Biblical literalism (taking every word of the Bible, a text laden with symbolism, metaphor and parables, very literally) taking the helm. This can go even further down the rabbit hole, as we now often see an intersection with conspiracy theories, antisemitism, misinformation and anti-vaccination/masking.
It is a complete disconnect from reality: extremism with a good dollop of moral superiority and persecution complexes to round it all off.
When I say this, I by no means try to imply that I am perfect. I am not. I am no saint and I have my flaws like everyone else. I do my best to learn and grow in my faith like my fellow Christians and I understand that everyone worships differently. I have no issue with that. But when it actively harms people, goes out of its way to abuse and control others in the form of toxic theology by clergy and lawmakers, I refuse to stand by and not say anything. I feel especially as a Christian, I must call this out as and when I see it. It’s a systemic issue and is long overdue to be addressed. Not only because it’s harmed so many within Christian communities (purity culture, prosperity doctrine etc.) but can and now will harm millions of others.
With the reason behind this draconian law is ‘protecting life’, answer me this:
- Where is the humanity in forcing someone to carry their rapist’s pregnancy? Keeping in mind, many of these victims include children, where if they do, there’s a good chance they will die?
- Where is the humanity in forcing a victim of incest to carry a pregnancy? Again, keeping in mind many of these victims are children and at a higher risk of death?
- Why not tackle (this should be done anyway) why parental mortality rates in Texas are so high? In particular, disproportionately affecting parents of colour?
- Why not tackle lax gun laws? Why when people are shot and killed at work, when children are shot and killed in schools, you merely say they themselves should have been armed? With a weapon specifically designed to take life?
- Where is the humanity in denying someone who has suffered pregnancy loss surgery they need to remove the deceased fetus? Knowing full well this can lead to infection, septicemia, major organ failure and death? Leaving someone to die like that is murder, plain and simple.
- If you are against abortion and have a penis, why not use condoms or even get a reversible vasectomy?
- If you are against abortion, or want to lower abortion rates, why not focus on easier access to birth control, focus on comprehensive sex education over abstinence only and sex positivity, that reiterates informed choice (including waiting until marriage) over towing a line out of fear? Multiple studies have shown that easier access to contraceptives and comprehensive sex education lower teen pregnancy rates, STI contraction and you guessed it, abortion rates. So why do you refuse to do this?
- If more babies will be born, why not put in place better resources for childcare, drug and alcohol rehabilitation for expectant parents who struggle with addiction, support for children with incarcerated parents, paid parental leave etc? Yet this is refused when suggested on multiple occasions?
- Whether you are for or against abortion rights for you, what right does that give you to force that on someone else?
I could go on an on, but it comes down to this: If you are against abortion, don’t have one. If you are against abortion for yourself for personal and/or religious reasons, I wholeheartedly respect your choice. That’s the point. I’m respecting your choice to do that. That’s what being pro-choice is all about.
Regardless of my religious beliefs, even if I was pro-birth, it still gives me no right to dictate that to someone else. I don’t know that person’s life, circumstances, and it is not up to me. I am not them. I am not their doctor. If we want to focus on protecting life, then we need to look at protecting the life that is here logically, listening to medical advice and that person’s own autonomy, without enacting draconian laws fuelled by extremist theology.
I’ve had my fair share of disagreements online with this. I’ve been called ‘ignorant’ and ‘lacking in wisdom’ by conservative Christian men online, because I cited the numerous times pro-life wasn’t in the Bible and that I refuse to advocate for forced childbirth. That by advocating for choice, I am sinning etc.
But no amount of threats of fire and brimstone will stop me from saying that there is nothing human, or Christian for that matter, about taking someone’s potentially life-saving decision away from them, even if I may never be able to go through with abortion if I were in the same position.
We need to consider everyone’s needs and provide the basic human right of healthcare for those who need it.