Be Honest with Thyself

Don’t call it pro-life, call it loss of traditional roles.

Denying women access to abortions is not about the life of the unborn (whatever that might mean). Instead, it’s about controlling women into behaving in very specific ways: abstinence followed by marriage followed by childbearing.

If the conversation was really about unborn children then the goal was be perfected family planning — that’s how you get fewer unborn children. It would be about an abundance of birth control.

But it’s not about that. Pro-life advocates aren’t also making contraceptives free for all men and women. They’re not pushing family planning clinics on every corner and sound sexual education policies, even though these are the kinds of measures that actually decrease rates of abortions and unwanted pregnancies.

What contraceptives and abortions do is decouple sex and pleasure from procreation. They give men and women the freedom to enjoy themselves without also creating children. With access to good family planning, men and women can explore their sexuality, which in turn transforms it from something holy to something merely beautiful.

And this, in some twisted way, goes against the morals of pro-life advocates. I believe it has to do with religion, but it may not. It may be tradition. It may be the role of women and how personal freedom moves them away from the home and into the wider society. It may be the need to hold on to moral standards in the face of what seems like endless decay.

My problem isn’t that people feel this way. Please: if you believe that women’s sexuality should be strictly controlled and the role of women is to produce children, SAY SO, damn it. Don’t hide behind such gibberish as “it has a heartbeat” or “the soul enters the body at conception”. Just say outright what you want and what you mean. Be clear about your intentions and don’t hide behind the sanctity of life because this isn’t what that looks like.

Sanctity of life is about those already living, isn’t it? The mothers and the children already here, among the living, the adults in your communities, immigrants and veterans alike, the dreamers. But this isn’t that, and I call bullshit on playing pretend. Be honest and we can have a conversation not about clumps of cells or about some unfathomable soul.

We can instead talk about traditions and their passing into yesteryear. We can talk about communities, about poverty, about respect. We can talk about children who grow up and disconnect from parents because of social and political issues. We can talk about human bodies and how precious they are, how precious we all are. We can talk pain and suffering and grief and loss. We can talk about losing the past and abandoning the holy things most treasured in life.

These are already difficult conversations. Don’t mar them with half-truths. Be honest to yourself first and foremost and then be honest to the world. Otherwise we end up with laws that sound like the nonsense they represent. Laws that bargain about which unborn lives matter and which ones don’t.

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