Today, our governor signed a bill banning abortion after 6 weeks, modeled after the law in Texas. I gasped as the headline popped up on my phone, and my 12-year-old asked what was up.
I explained the bill to him, and he asked if we should be glad about that, since we value all life. I told him it’s complicated…
Yes, we are pro-life in every sense of the term. But I also told him what Desmond Tutu said about figuring out why people are falling in the river rather than simply pulling them out. I told him how abortion in this country disproportionately affects people of color and people in poverty and rural communities. There’s something inherently wrong about that, and maybe just making something illegal isn’t as helpful as dismantling a system that disadvantages certain people (as it was intended to).
He wondered about the women who’ve already had abortions… can they now be prosecuted? I said it was a good question, and no, they can’t. What I did not tell him, though, was that this law allows relatives of a woman who gets an abortion to sue the abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages up to 4 years after the abortion. This allowance is also made for relatives of a rapist when his victim chooses an abortion. Lord, have mercy.
As recently as 2016, I put all my voting power behind this issue. Except then I believed certain parties, pundits, and politicians that said they would end needless suffering of the vulnerable and innocent. I see now that it’s all a ploy, a disgusting exploitation of people’s heart for humanity, a way to garner votes and maintain power. Because they have no interest in alleviating suffering. Suffering lines their pockets. They’re not pro-life; they’re pro-birth, at best. At worst, and more likely, they don’t care at all and will say anything to get you to check the box next to their name.
This is a complex problem that requires nuanced, thoughtful, and elegant solutions. It’s a topic that needs to be handled with gentleness and care. It’s not as simple as good and evil, right and wrong. The people selling that simplistic version of this issue want you to be angry and afraid so you’ll give them more power to “fix it.”
My son asked what happens now. How do we help people who need it so abortion can stop? I told him the truth… I don’t really know. But I think it starts just like this. With a conversation.