I think smoking is disgusting. I personally choose not to smoke because, on the most basic level, I just find the smell repulsive. I could argue that smoking is “morally wrong” because it is disrespectful of the smoker’s own body, of the people around the smoker who are perhaps unwillingly subjected to secondhand smoke, and, based on the number of butts I’ve seen littering the ground, disrespectful to the planet. But that doesn’t mean I think the government should prohibit all people from smoking. I also don’t believe, in spite of my personal distaste for smoking, that someone who chooses to smoke should be denied the appropriate health care for long term consequences they face as a result of smoking, such as emphysema, throat or lung cancer, or COPD. It’s not the government’s business to either push my anti-smoking beliefs on people or deny those human beings the treatment that their physicians deem most appropriate.
This isn’t really about smoking.
I debated writing this post and went back and forth for a while. My brain kept composing it anyway as I went about my day, until I wrote it all out, thinking that just getting it written would make me feel better. Then I internally debated whether or not to push that “publish” button. I don’t like to get political, even though I have some strong opinions. I like to keep the peace. I want people to like me. I understand the value of a well-argued debate, but the process of just listening to one is often almost physically painful for me, let alone participating.
After I handed in my notice at the library, my boss asked me if I was planning on “spreading dissent” among the remaining staff by airing my grievances (which says more about my boss’s role in my resignation that I ever could), and I was so flattered that she thought me a revolutionary threat that I almost rescinded my resignation. As much as I desire revolution, I am an anxious mess and seek peace like a senior dog whose family runs an in-home daycare. But I’m scared, and hurt, and angry. And if what I’m writing about isn’t what I feel strongly about, what am I even doing?
Sometimes I hear arguments that my opinion isn’t valid because I can’t value a child the way a mother can, that I can’t understand the value of this fight until I’ve had a child. You know who else can’t understand the realities of choosing to carry a child? The men in power who are making these decisions.
I’m not here to argue whether abortion is right or wrong. Even if I firmly believed it was always one or the other (I don’t), I don’t think I could change anyone’s mind. I know people who think the supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last Friday was a moral victory. I know many more who are devastated by the news. Again, I’m not here to argue whether abortion is right or wrong. This is about government overreach to rob women of their rights and the imposition of religious beliefs by a government that was supposed to be founded on a separation of church and state (though since I first drafted this, they’ve taken steps to ruin that as well). But to the people celebrating, I am compelled to point out that this decision does not mean lives will be saved. Desperate women will still seek and get abortions as they have for thousands of years and because they have nowhere safe to go, they will die horribly, and maybe a deep, buried little part of you thinks that’s what they deserve for seeking an abortion. They don’t, but I can’t change your mind on that.
The Missouri legislature has been unmoved by pleas about protection in cases of rape and incest. I’m not discounting those arguments, but maybe they feel like “other people’s problems” to you. What I need to bring to your attention is that this affects so many people far beyond the women you feel need to “take responsibility for their actions.” Again, that’s another issue that I’m sure I won’t change your mind about. Even the “traditional families” whose protection so vehemently claim to value will suffer from this. I’m happily married. My husband and I are not trying to have children at this point, but we haven’t ruled it out for the future. I’m not looking for an opportunity to get an abortion. But when we get to the point where we try to get pregnant, if, God forbid, something should go wrong and the baby develops without vital organ systems or with severe deformities that lead doctors to determine it won’t live more than a couple minutes after being born; or if the baby dies in utero and continuing the pregnancy creates risk of life threatening sepsis; or if the embryo implants outside the womb, a total ban on abortion, like that already in place in Missouri and coming to almost half the country, means that I could not receive the medical care prescribed by my doctor. I would die. Entirely outlawing abortion hurts even the women who desperately want their babies but are faced with nightmarish medical realities. The odds of this happening to me specifically are low, sure, but this happens to women across the country every day. These are not “what ifs” fueled by my anxiety. These are realities.
Furthermore, making abortion illegal opens the door for women who suffer the crippling tragedy of miscarriage to be prosecuted on claims that they induced the miscarriage in an abortion attempt. But the politicians don’t care about that, about adding additional pain and suffering to existing grief. Because they don’t see women as rational, functioning human beings, do they? And therefore, our pain can’t be real.
I’m scared for my friends, and my family, and people I’ve never met who will find themselves in situations that were already stressful and painful and unimaginable (because regardless of what you’ve been told, nobody takes getting an abortion lightly), and now face legal repercussions for trying to make the decision that is best for their lives.
And I’m scared for myself because even if I never face any of the tragedies I’ve mentioned above, I know that conservatives will come for birth control next, forcing even more people to bring babies into a world, into a country, that is feeling more and more like a dumpster fire on wheels every day.
I am disgusted by all of this in so many ways, and as so many will think me a godless heathen for my opinions (my relationship with God is between me and God), I am most of all disgusted by this bastardization of Christianity that has taken hold in this country and is regularly used for the oppression of the vulnerable.
Is this freedom? Is this the small government you laud? Is this freedom from religious persecution when the government forces everyone to conform to evangelical Christian morals?
Maybe this will all fall on deaf ears, but at least I can rest in the knowledge that I have not remained silent while my rights were stripped away.