“What are the first three big things you would buy as an adult, once you were earning enough money?” My nephew’s eighth grade teacher asked this question after giving a lesson about the costs of expensive items, like houses and cars. He told them about making, saving and investing money as an adult. Then he asked each student their top three purchases. My thirteen-year-old nephew answered, “A house, a car and season tickets to baseball games.”
I giggled as I don’t follow sports, whereas my nephew is obsessed. He is very knowledgeable, checks scores daily and aspires to be a sports announcer or owner of a team one day. Everyone follows their own passion path.
Take politics. Texas just made abortion after six weeks illegal. The road to this momentous decision has been carefully paved for a very long time. The pro-life supreme court justices who upheld the decision have been groomed for many years just for this moment. The mission of dismantling Roe v. Wade has been the singular focus of many groups on a local, state and federal level for decades. Some of those people are sincere pro-lifers who see abortion as murder “once a heartbeat is detected”, which is around that six-week gestation mark. That is all they can see. With that eye only on a moral or religious belief against abortion they climbed the hill and staked a flag to dismantle reproductive rights. Today they are happy. But when you run straight up a hill with such fervor, you don’t have time to look around at what damage you might cause, and you are disinterested in a different view. The fallout of your success is ignored, rationalized or minimized.
I want to explore some of the effects of planting that new flag. First is the obvious, that the decision to terminate a pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest, is taken away from the woman. Protest signs in the streets read, “Bans off my body” because women lose power and control over their own medical decisions.
A second issue is that abortion has been displayed as a desperate and painful decision, and sometimes it is. However, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes a medical abortion is a necessity. Women with medical conditions are told by their doctors, “If you continue this pregnancy, both you and the baby will die.” In 1985, I myself had a baby growing in my fallopian tube. I found out (as most women do) that I was pregnant when I was six weeks along. This is non-viable. My baby might have had a heartbeat but could not have survived. In Texas today, I guess I would have died.
Some of the people who consider abortion murder pay no attention to that. They minimize the life and the health of the mother. Ironically some of these are the same people who won’t agree to ban assault weapons, which kill. And some are the same people whose face is a weapon because they won’t wear a mask or vaccinate against a known murderer, Covid 19. So, is it really about murder? I don’t think so. Power and control over the body of the woman is a weapon of oppression as old as time. In fundamentalist circles in the USA, it has raised its ugly head again.
A third issue is that the disadvantage always goes to women with less resources. Rich or connected women will always be able to attain abortions. For example, a few years ago a pro-life republican senator secretly arranged for his mistress to get an abortion.
Is this the first domino to fall? Likely, as other states may follow Texas to control women’s bodies. I just felt a shiver, and feel myself fearfully scurry down a rabbit hole, running down my hallways of horrors, so let me take a break.
I go outside and lie on the hammock in the gentle afternoon air. I take a few slow breaths and sink into relaxation. I start singing, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz…”. A small goldfinch lands on a nearby log and cocks his head to listen. I feel compelled to serenade him. He flies closer, lands on the fence a few feet from me, and waits for a second chorus. So, I sing again. Then he pops back to the log and resumes hunting for gnats. I smile. The bird was pulled to my song. We are each pulled to some song. My nephew will follow the siren call of a career in sports. And today, I am pulled to express my horror over the squelching of women’s reproductive rights. Oh Lord, I don’t really want a Mercedes Benz. I just want you to grant me the grace to rise and fight against the oppression of women in these troubling times.