Photo credit: Melissa Golden/Redux
There’s a strange moment in nearly all of my interactions with professed pro-life women, one that never fails to disorient me and grieve me.
Whether they’re tossing venomous diatribes into my Twitter mentions, tagging me with expletive-laden Facebook attacks, or standing in front of me with self-righteous condescension, I eventually have a realization:
only one of us believes she should have full autonomy over her own body and it isn’t her.
Whether our exchanges in that moment are chilly or combustible and regardless of how incendiary their words toward me might be, it never fails to fill me with a sadness.
They are fighting with me and I am fighting for them. That never feels right.
Looking at us from a distance, it might at least make some sense why a white man raised in the church who has pastored for two decades would be telling a woman that she is not worthy to be the author of her story; that strangers get to determine what happens to her body, that her most intimate of decisions are the jurisdiction of supposed men of God. That misogyny is baked into Conservative theology and politics.
But the irony of my interactions with women who advocate for the removal or limiting of the rights of women, is that I am trying to advocate for their inherent self-worth while they seem less passionate about it.
I am not pro-abortion.
Like nearly all pro-choice human beings, I never rejoice over or celebrate these decisions, because I know that they are ones reached after arduous deliberation and great pain; that they are often born out of emotional trauma, physical assault, or dire medical news.
I know that abortions are not chosen impulsively or without careful or prayer wrestling.
I believe in education and in birth control and in doing everything possible not to create an unwanted pregnancy. All pro-choice people I know believe these things.
But at the end of all of that, I defer to the woman because I simply don’t believe what happens within the confines of her body is any of my business—and I can’t comprehend why any woman would contest such a belief: how in my validation of her autonomy I am viewed as her enemy. I am fully, unwaveringly for her. The sanctity of her sentient life is a non-negotiable for me.
There is a sad irony at play when I realize that a pro-life woman arguing with a pro-choice man like myself, is essentially relinquishing control over her destiny to other men and I am saying she deserves better. I wish we were allies in this and not adversaries because my respect for her is complete.
I respect her more than her pastors, more than her politicians, more than the men who may have raised her or attended her church or lived alongside her.
I am a pro-life man, in that I am pro-the lives of women and believe that ultimately they should not be compelled by the law or the church or by other men to make a decision about their bodies and intimate lives that they do not wish to make.
It would give me great joy if more professed pro-life women simply agreed with me.