Last night, someone accused me of being complicit in abortion. She said that because I support a candidate who supports abortion I am complicit and committing a grave sin. Just hours later my husband received a picture comparing him to Nazi’s. After hearing things like this a million times during the last election, I worked very hard to learn what actual Church teaching is on electing a pro-choice candidate, but still even with all my knowledge, these comments hurt me deeply.
When someone speaks this way to me, it brings back memories of when I was a kid. Rules and guilt flood back to me, I watched a tv show and panicked that maybe I am a “lover of violence,” despite the fact that in real life I fight and speak out against it, I saw a blanket in my room with elephants on it and panicked that I may be accidentally worshipping idols. I grew afraid that God hates me because of my candidate.
This letter is not about me. I know I am not the only person who has been here. I know I am not the only person who has been told these things. This letter is for those of you who have felt the hurt I have, and for those of you who say things like this.
There is a ridiculous amount of misinformation and misunderstanding around the topic of abortion. Everyone has a different method that they believe will end it, the pro-life cause in every state looks wildly different, and the way that people live it is even more diverse. Some pro-life Catholics, especially those who follow Trump, default to calling anyone who disagrees with what they are doing, “baby-killers,” “murderers,” “Nazi’s” or they post graphic depictions of dead children. The point of this is to make you agree with them using fear and guilt.
The problem with this is that both fear and guilt can send a person into a panicked state where they cannot think clearly, and they may react with anxiety, or anger, or any number of other unhelpful reactions. Since many women who are dealing with the topic of abortion are already raw and vulnerable, this is an extremely painful place to be. Most importantly, it takes the focus off of the value we ALL have as people, God’s love for us, and what we are really fighting for. I say that because I am pro-life, despite what some might say, but my beliefs in how we should be pro-life are wildly different from the Catholics I am talking about.
I am pro-life in the sense that I believe that we should value ALL life, and that includes, no death penalty, helping immigrants from other countries who want to help their families, protecting black lives, helping mothers and families who are raising children, AND an end to abortion. I also believe that the public part of the pro-life movement is going about things all wrong.
Women seeing the pro-life movement trying to take away a law centered around medical privacy are scared and feel at risk, and many in the pro-life movement minimize their concerns and say awful things about them. Now, I’m not saying that no women anywhere are fighting for abortion, but I am saying that this fight is much more complex than that, with a variety of consequences, and even when we do talk about abortion there are a lot of intense fears around that issue for women, especially when it comes to making abortion illegal, while many people in our country still believe it is necessary. This means that the pro-choice side is terrified of what the pro-life side is trying to do.
I believe that if we start in this place of fear and guilt, the country will not develop love of God or the Truth, but will remain in fear and guilt. Pro-choice people will resent the law and fight to change it, and pro-life people will continue to see them as horrible people. However, If we start from a place of love, the work may be slower, but the results will be more genuine. I have seen what so many pro-choice people have been through, and they are intimately connected to how terrifying it can be to have a child in our country/world. I believe the way to fight abortion is to HELP them, and then they will be safe, and then we can all speak clearly with love about the science behind the pro-life cause, and how to protect children through legal means.
When Jesus saw the Pharisees trying to stone the adulterous woman, he did not turn to her and yell with them. First, He saved her life. Then, He told her not to sin any more. He showed her that she was valuable and important and most of all, SAFE, and then He knew she would do what is right. That is what I believe we should do with the pro-life movement. It is harder because it is a broader issue and very complex, but it is worth doing through love and not fear.
If you agree with me, and people are saying cruel things to you, take space from them and pray. Are you ignoring the issue of abortion? What are your real reasons for forming your opinion the way you did? Ask God to help you find wisdom. Give yourself the space to acknowledge that it sucks if you do not have a candidate that you agree with on all the important issues. Remember you are precious in God’s eyes, and He loves you, and He knows you are trying your hardest to make a better world.
Here is an easy to understand summary of Roe v Wade that explains some very important parts of this issue:
Here is a letter I wrote to a Bishop that cites some of my sources(USCCB and Pope Francis) on the Catholic teaching that we are allowed to vote on issues other than just abortion, especially specifically in this year’s race.
Here is an article with more sources on a Church teaching about forming Catholic consciences:
Lastly, here is the prayer that was said at Democratic National Convention this year.
A Prayer of Welcome
Open our hearts to those most in need:
The unemployed parent worried about feeding his or her children.
The woman who is underpaid, harassed or abused.
The Black man and woman who fear for their lives.
The immigrant at the border, longing for safety.
The homeless person looking for a meal.
The LGBT teen who is bullied.
The unborn child in the womb.
The inmate on death row.
Help us to be a nation where every life is sacred, all people are loved, and all are welcome.