Pro-Lifer Here, and I’m Confused…

When people ask if I’m pro-life, my short answer is yes. Definitely. Conception to grave. Pro-life. If they sit around for the long answer then they’ll learn that I’m super confused. When the United States Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade I was absolutely crushed and perplexed. My thoughts on life are deeply personal.

Four years ago I was on call for the very first time at Duke Hospital. At around 6pm I was paged urgently to the emergency department which is never a good sign. I arrived to see more than 15 medical professionals working tirelessly to try and save a beautiful five year old boy who was hit by a stray bullet. His mother watched her son die as she screamed in agony. I sat with her and I wept too. I find myself constantly advocating for common sense gun legislation because I’m pro-life. No parent should have to watch their child die from such preventable violence. I’m confused as to why this is controversial.

Jesus died by the death penalty. Yes, he knew he would die. That doesn’t mean that death by corporal punishment was ok. Jesus came to save us and to offer a grace that is beyond our understanding. If we know Jesus died at the hands of a government why would we impose that evil on another person? We should never allow our government to kill people no matter what they’ve done. Nobody is without flaw and every single person is worthy of forgiveness and grace. I’m confused as to why this is controversial.

During my time at Duke I served as a chaplain in Labor & Delivery, NICU, and Pediatric Cardiac ICU (PCICU). I also served on the pediatric quality of life team which provided palliative care to pediatric patients and their families. The things I saw and prayed through were gut wrenching. I lost count of how many children died while waiting on organ transplant. It is crushing that something so simple as transplant could have saved all of these lives. And yet, there is autonomy here. I’ve been an organ donor since I was old enough to have it written on my drivers license. It is my choice. Even when I’m dead nobody can make that choice for me. The parents of children who have died also have a choice on whether or not to donate their organs to another little one. There is no mandate on what can be done with their bodies even after death. I’ll never know or understand why someone isn’t an organ donor, but it isn’t for me to understand either. I cannot force that on someone else. It is ok for me to be pro-organ donation and pro-life while also not forcing this on someone else.

I’m confused as to why legislation is the only way some Americans care to keep unborn children alive. Living in the Netherlands has shown me that when we care for people, really care for them, people live. When we provide shelter, people live. When we provide food, people live. When we provide healthcare, people live. When we support bodily autonomy, people live. The number of abortions in the Netherlands is a much smaller percentage than it is in the United States. The Dutch realize that by doing things as a society like subsidizing the cost of childcare and providing an abundance of parental support, barriers to raising children are lowered, thus lowering the number of abortions.

What truly breaks my heart is how many people are suffering in light of this ruling. People are taking to facebook to gaslight those of us who have lost children in the womb and telling us that our story “isn’t true.” That isn’t an “abortion.” My medical record says abortion and thats why the hate stings. Parents who have babies experiencing serious pain have chosen to give their kids peace and terminate for medical reasons. We should be listening and supporting them. Instead, I see hate and slander.

There is so much to a woman’s story and these stories are worth honoring. Until you have sat with a woman who has terminated for medical reasons you won’t be able to see how harmful these laws are. Until you have heard her tears, heard her love for her child, and seen the amazing ways she goes on to parent that beautiful baby, you won’t realize how much she is being re-traumatized by this supreme court ruling.

Black and Brown mothers across the United States have very traumatic stories with pregnancy and delivery. Many know that Black and Brown mothers are three times as likely to die during childbirth as their white peers. You can read more about it in The New York Times. Do their babies matter? DEFINITELY. So isn’t it also a problem that according to the CDC, black babies are twice as likely to be stillborn? Why isn’t there legislation to protect these kids? Why aren’t we funneling money into supporting these Black families and finding ways to save their lives? Why is it that we’re forcing Black mothers to carry babies to term when we can’t even do something to protect them during the process? I’m pro-life and I’m confused.

I’ll be honest, I’ve also been saddened by progressives during this ruling. I’ve seen people share pictures of sonograms saying, “This is not a baby.” But what about my baby? These were the same people who showered me with love and prayers immediately following our loss and now it’s not a baby? I agree this Supreme Court ruling is harmful, but can we not have some compassion? I might be confused, but I’m still pro-life.

Until we can support families and children, we aren’t pro-life–we’re pro-birth. And until we stop forcing pregnancies without an abundance of love and compassion, we aren’t pro-life–we’re pro-birth. Until we can start listening to women and believing their stories of sexual harassment and rape, then this ruling is nothing more than an oppression of women. Until we can believe that women should be able to decide to grow a child in the same way they decide to give blood, we’re making a major overstep and quite a racist one at that.

It is ok to think what you want. It’s ok to say that you “would never have an abortion.” Nobody is forcing you to terminate your pregnancy. Nobody forced me to, either. My doctor was relieved when I said I wanted the D&C as my body hadn’t passed my child naturally, but ultimately it was up to me. The reality is, you don’t actually know what you would do until you’re in that situation. It’s so sad to oppress others with our oversimplification of such a nuanced topic. It’s ok to not know where you truly stand on this issue. It is NOT ok to do harm to others in the process. Through all of this I’ve learned that its ok to be pro-life and as long as I don’t hurt others, it’s ok to also be confused.

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