Watching all the coverage of the anti-abortion protesters gathering at Notre Dame before the President’s commencement address I can feel the anger in me rising.
It is not that I am pro-abortion, or disagree with the freedom of speech and the right to protest, and yet I can feel myself getting a little crazy!
Abortion is undoubtedly a very emotional issue, and I suspect this is because we wrap a number of other issues and deep seeded feelings up in this debate. Investigating my opinions on abortion reveals less interest in the medical procedure of abortion, and more interest in the issues it symbolizes. It seems much hurt and devaluing of women has come from both my religion and my country.
Men beware, it might just be easier to agree to give women a choice, rather than open the space for this much larger debate…
Has Christianity Left Women Behind?
Watching the protesters at Notre Dame placing the signs on their graduation cap of a cross with two baby feet on either side, enraged me. This symbol reminded me of the way I have felt disenfranchised from traditional Christianity.
Apparently God is male, first fail for women. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… I count three whole parts there, couldn’t we have gotten even 33% representation in the trinity? It sure makes it harder to be God-like when you are born the wrong gender to begin with. The one main female role model in the church is both a virgin and a mother (a very hard standard for most modern women to live up to). And let us not forget in Catholicism as well as some conservative protestant traditions women just aren’t equipped (read smart enough) to teach men.
And it is not only what we aren’t. It is the incredibly small box of expectation of what we are. In many traditional Christian settings women are seen to be primarily baby factories. Somehow the issue of abortion seems to imply that the Church doesn’t trust women’s ability to choose whether they want to fulfill that role, as if that decision was pre-determined for us when our eggs were formed.
A Country Where All Men are Created Equal
I appreciate that abortion is legal in this country, but the way this debate is often framed rips away at the equality women feel.
Women are so often portrayed as the monsters in the abortion debate when so many factors lead to the situation of an unwanted pregnancy with at least one factor that is always present, a man!
Another factor rarely discussed is the lack of health insurance for women. Did you know that less than half of American women can get health insurance through work? Keeping that in mind did you know that a 22 year old woman can be charged 1 1/2 times the premium of a 22 year old man in the individual insurance market. Yes, that is because it is expensive for the insurance company if that woman gets pregnant.
So until America decides to value the health of a woman and offer fair and equal health care for all women, I have very little patience for your debate as to whether women should have a choice to have an abortion or not. Without first the basic respect for a woman’s health, this issue can quickly make women feel like property rather than people.
Working for Solutions
Let me be clear, I am not saying that pro-lifers hold these views that I have articulated anger me so. I am trying to convey why this issue is such a hot button issue for me. I believe there is much that needs to be done to bring feminism to Christianity and equality to America. I would love to spend more energy on these issues, less on fighting about the fetus, and together from a place of high value and regard for women I believe we could work very effectively to decrease unwanted pregnancies.