The Already Born....
Well…sigh… this is gonna be a tough one to write. My thoughts have been racing around for the last couple of days, so bear with me if my words today aren’t as succinct as they should be.
I had planned on this week’s newsletter being entirely different. The first half of my week was spent in upper Michigan, at a cabin on a lake with my husband and two close friends. We laughed, ate good food, played games, laughed some more, made daily stops to the local “House of Flavors” ice cream shop, watched gorgeous sunsets over Lake Michigan, laughed even more, and basically unplugged from all news. It was uplifting and restful. I was going to write this week about how important rest was to our human souls and spirits and how God honors rest. But that will have to wait for another week because on Friday, all hell broke loose.
I came home from our wonderful trip and heard the news that SCOTUS had over-turned Roe vs Wade. My phone was blowing up from friends who were upset, confused, angry, and well…scared. We all knew this was coming. The leak should have prepared us for this day. But here we are, actually shocked that it really happened. We have gone backwards in time to the days where women have lost rights over their own bodies and their own healthcare.
I’ve gone through most of the stages of grief in the last two days. Sadness, anger, denial, hurt… but I can’t get to acceptance and I don’t think I ever will.
Some of you are sitting here reading this in disbelief. How could Marcia be upset about over-turning Roe vs Wade? Isn’t she a good Christian lady?? Doesn’t she care about the unborn?
First off, it’s entirely possible to care about the unborn (I do) and be pro-choice (I am). Well, I guess I am. I say “I guess” because I hate labels. “Pro-choice” and “Pro-life” are actually very limiting and can definitely be misleading. I have learned two big truths about those labels:
Pro-choice is not the same as pro-abortion.
Pro-life usually just means pro-birth and often doesn’t carry over to being pro-all-life.
But if we have to talk labels, what I know is I am is pro-women. I believe in using my voice to make sure women, all women, have the same rights as men. Roe vs Wade made that possible. Roe vs Wade gave women complete rights over their healthcare and their lives, just as men have. But all of that has changed now and it’s not right.
I have been watching online as many brave women have come forward to tell their stories of how Roe Vs Wade allowed them to make medical decisions for their own health that couldn’t have been done without it. I’ve also gotten private messages from others who shared their stories… and shared how scared they are that now, so much will be out of their control. There are so many questions….
What if a women is raped? What if her life is in danger? What about an ectopic pregnancy? How will this effect miscarriage care? Will this make doctors too scared to make time-sensitive medical decisions to save a mother’s life? Doesn’t her life matter too?
What if she is a 12 yr old girl, sexually abused by her own father and impregnated? (I know of one such case personally). Should she be made to carry that child?
These questions are legitimate and I hope and pray that all the people that are celebrating the overturning of Roe Vs Wade today will be sensitive to how scary this is for many women.
What some people don’t seem to understand is that overturning Roe vs Wade isn’t going to stop abortions. It’s going to stop legal abortions in some states. And it’s going to hurt the lower income households and people of color the most. The rich will just send their girls off to another state that allows it. I’ve watched it happen over and over. Girls getting pregnant in high school and/or college, but being whisked away in secret by their own mothers to have abortions so that their reputations aren’t tarnished and their futures affected or even ruined, while still claiming to be pro-life from their church pews each Sunday. Lower-income and marginalized girls don’t have that option. They are left struggling to pay the bills, while the boys who got them pregnant just move right along. I’ve seen it many times — heck, I still see it. With my women’s ministry, I work with single moms who have zero help from the fathers of their babies…. but that’s a story for another day.
Here’s the deal: Did you know that 1 in 4 women have had an abortion? I am one of those. Yes, I am a women who was able to have a safe, legal abortion many years ago because of Roe vs Wade, and I’m very thankful for that. Actually, I’ve technically had two “abortions”. In the spirit of joining with other women who are speaking up and telling their stories, I’ll tell one of mine. The other story, I’ll save for another time. I’m not quite ready to talk about that one yet. But here’s one for you. Warning, some of this is graphic.
It was the late 80’s. I was pregnant with my 2nd child. At about 10 weeks along, I started bleeding, and I suspected I was having a miscarriage. I immediately called my OB-GYN doctor’s office and they advised me to come in and be checked out. I really loved my doctor because he was a kind, Christian man who always prayed with me in my visits. That was comforting to me at the time. At this visit, he confirmed that it did appear as if I was having a miscarriage. He cried with me and prayed with me and told me that “this is in God’s hands” now. I asked him if he should do a D & C and he said, “No. That is a procedure I don’t believe in doing. Your body will do what it needs to do to end the pregnancy naturally.” I believed him.
Maybe I should stop the story and explain what a D & C is:
“A D&C (Dilation and Curretage) is the most common method of early abortion. This method is simple and considered the safest and most convenient way to end an early pregnancy. A D&C procedure is routine, considered safe and will not affect your ability to get pregnant in the future.” - John Hopkins Medical Institute
Now, here’s the thing: A “D & C” isn’t just used for abortions. It’s used as a medical procedure to remove tissue inside the uterus for many different reasons. One reason it is used is to clear the uterine lining after a miscarriage.
So back to my story…. Because I believed my doctor, I waited on my body to “end my pregnancy” naturally. For weeks I didn’t feel right. I was bleeding off and on. I had no energy. I felt sick. Something is wrong. I called the doctor’s office several times asking if I should come back in. They always put me off, saying it just takes time but I’ll be fine.
Guess what? I wasn’t fine. Here’s where it gets hairy, so some of you who are squeamish may want to skip ahead to the next paragraph. —-A few weeks later as I was standing on stage about to do a concert in Louisiana, I felt blood gushing out of me. I ran to the bus. I tried to insert tampons but I couldn’t even get them to go inside me. The blood was rushing out so violently and it was getting everywhere. This was before cell phones, so I didn’t know what to do - trapped in the bus bathroom bleeding everywhere. Suddenly, I heard my friend’s voice on the bus yelling “Marcia??? Are you alright?” She had felt like something must be wrong when I didn’t return to soundcheck immediately after leaving so suddenly. “HELP! I screamed! Call an ambulance! I can’t stop this bleeding!”
I was terrified. I thought I was about to die. And I actually was.
The ambulance came and took me to the nearest hospital. When I told the doctors about my miscarriage, they immediately rushed me in for an emergency D & C and saved my life. The next day, the doctors came in and explained to me what happened. My memory is a little sketchy because I was in shock, traumatized, and groggy from getting out of surgery, but to the best of my recollection, this is what I remember: They told me that my pregnancy had not “ended naturally”, and that the fetus had died inside me and was still there. Complications had formed, I had been bleeding inside around the fetus and several blood clots had formed, one of which broke away leaving a free-flowing blood supply that wouldn’t stop without going in, doing the D & C, and cauterizing the opening in my uterine wall where the blood was coming from. They had stopped the bleeding, but now they needed to give me blood because I had lost so much. I ended up getting quite a bit of someone else’s blood that day. I still remember the feeling of having a stranger’s blood going into my veins to save my life. I was grateful and terrified at the same time. It was right when the AIDS scare was terrorizing the country. I remember them telling me that they couldn’t guarantee that this blood was free of the AIDS virus - they weren’t testing it yet — but that I had to have the blood to live, so I didn’t have a choice. I had to take the risk.
Crazy story, huh? Luckily, the blood I got was not AIDS infected and even though I had to stay in the hospital alone in Louisiana for several days to recover and was slightly traumatized, I did recover — thanks to the quick actions of those doctors in Louisiana.
If those doctors were afraid to do that procedure on me - for fear of being accused of doing an abortion (which technically it was the exact same procedure whether the fetus was living or not), I wouldn’t be alive today.
This is just one of the many reasons why I’m terrified of what will happen now that women’s reproductive rights are being threatened. When they say “Abortion is healthcare”, it’s actually true in some cases. It was in mine. If my first doctor hadn’t been so morally against doing a D & C on me, I wouldn’t have had to go through all of that in the first place.
If you think that miscarriage care won’t be threatened by the overturning of Roe v Wade, I’ll link a couple of articles that explain more in detail on this
Look — I’ve seen the stats: Abortion rates have been consistently going down over the last several years. I don’t believe overturning Roe V Wade is about saving babies. This is about power and control. There are literally thousands of men getting women pregnant and running away from all the responsibility, financially, emotionally and physically. Yet, no laws are being passed to force them to do what’s right and raise the children they created — it’s all dumped on the women. EVERY BIT OF IT. Until Congress starts passing laws forcing men to take equal responsibility in the raising of these children that they had equal part in creating, then I will continue to believe this is about men having power and women suffering the consequences.
And now, Clarence Thomas has said that SCOTUS may consider limiting birth control choices. WHAT IN THE ACTUAL…..?? Dear God. They want us all barefoot and pregnant again. Nope, Nope, Nope. I’m way beyond the years of getting pregnant, but when I think about how these rulings could affect my daughter or granddaughter…. Grrrrrrrr.
I got a little mad there… deep breath……putting myself in time out for a minute.
Ok.. sorry….I’m back now. Look, I have many wonderful friends out there who are celebrating today. I know their hearts and I know they honestly believe this is a step towards saving “the most vulnerable” - but this is a much more nuanced and complicated issue than I believe they are seeing it is. Do I hate them because they don’t agree with me? Heavens, no. And if you hate me because I see it differently than you do, then I doubt we are really friends to begin with… but even if we aren’t friends in real life, it makes me sad. Hating each other won’t get us anywhere. And at the risk of being called a “baby killer”, I’m here telling my story so that you might understand a bit where I’m coming from.
Look, nobody knows when a soul is imparted. People will tell you they do, but they don’t. Even among religious scholars there is debate. Most pro-life advocates will say the soul is imparted the minute a sperm and egg connect, because that fits their narrative, but they don’t have proof of that. Some believe the soul is imparted at first breath. Others say at 120 days of gestation. WE DON’T KNOW. Women who have had miscarriages struggle with this question all the time. Even my uber-conservative Christian OB-GYN who wouldn’t perform the D & C on me told me that my unborn baby was going back to God. That baby was always in his constant care. Not to worry. I do believe the unborn are taken care of by God in a special way. And if God wants a soul born into this world, by golly, that soul will find its way here. No miscarriage or abortion is going to stop it.
But the already born? That is who I feel deeply responsible to fight alongside. I want to make sure girls and women have the right to autonomy over their bodies, and the right to make decisions that are right for them, their families and their lives. I want to make sure my black friends feel safe and valued equally in our society. I want to make sure my granddaughter can go to school and not be afraid of being gunned down in her classroom. I want my LGBTQA+ friends to feel safe and free to love who they love. And I want people to stop using the term “religious liberty” as a reason to discriminate against others. It’s just not right.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I know some call fetuses “the most vulnerable”, but I just want to fight for better lives for those that are already here… I feel called to fight for the most vulnerable that are already born. They matter too.
I pray for a society where abortions are never needed — but I truly believe that taking away the healthcare rights of women isn’t the way forward. Just because a women has the right to an abortion doesn’t mean she will choose that. Hopefully, we can all work together to make a society where she doesn’t feel like that is her only option, as many women do when they have to make the hard decision to end a pregnancy. But until changes are made, I stand with women today who refuse to have the government decide what is best for them, their bodies, and their lives.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t work towards making abortions as rare as possible. Abortion is hard on everyone involved, including the mother. I’d love to see the rates continue to go down and if you are working towards that, I’m not telling you to stop. But fighting for the rights of the “already born” - the immigrant, the poor, the orphans, the widows, the homeless etc… this is holy work too. I know this is true. And I know God has called me to speak out on this, so here I am — speaking, writing... and sadly preparing for the backlash from those who now think less of me for it.
I’ll end with a link to another article that I feel is a worthy read. It pretty much sums up how I feel as a Christian on this issue right now:
“We must oppose extreme measures that would eliminate the right of women and pregnant people to choose whether they bear children while we also advocate vigorously for policies and programs that would dramatically reduce the need for unwanted pregnancies that lead people to seek abortions in the first place. These policies include: ensuring everyone has affordable access to quality health care and contraception; reducing and eliminating gender-based discrimination and violence; and expanding economic support to women, parents, and families — including the pro-family policies stalled in Congress that would alleviate many of the economic stresses that prompt people to seek abortions.”
These are difficult days, friends. I pray we can be kind to those who are expressing their emotions right now. I believe we are all doing our best to process it all. May we choose to listen to each other’s stories and perspectives, and hopefully find grace for each other as we navigate these tender conversations.
Thank you for reading. —- Marcia