On Friday mornings, a group of women (women of faith, many Episcopalian) meet for coffee. We’re all over fifty years old–spanning ages from that to nearly 100. Our conversations are wide ranging and fruitful. I hear a lot of truth. Today, at one point, our conversation turned to the many headlines about the potential upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision that will roll back Roe vs. Wade. As the wisdom flowed amongst this (largely gray-haired) group of women, I realized that our voices aren’t heard enough…. because we’ve lived a long time and we know some stuff. (I joked that we should call ourselves the Gray Geese Squad and waddle around giving people our truth.)
Anyway, here’s what we have to say on the current furor over women’s reproductive rights (in part):
- Today, we live in a world where many people say that they are trying to make the world better. We’d like to know “Better for whom?” We want to know: Will this world that you are pushing for be better for anybody other than Christian white men? What about people of color, women, LGBTQ+, and anybody else who might want to live in a different way than you do? It will be measurably worse for most of us.
- We are having the wrong argument. People ask whether someone is pro life or pro choice. That is a straw camel. Most of us consider ourselves to be both. There are many situations that are so complex that a simple digital decision of right/wrong simply isn’t helpful. Rape, incest, medical complications, potential maternal death, potential horrifying birth defects…it’s just not that easy.
- You shouldn’t be able to make everyone’s choices. You say you want to preserve your rights and have freedom to make your choices. You want to do that restricting everyone else’s rights and choices simply so that you will be comfortable.
- The cost of delegalizing abortion is huge and it doesn’t actually achieve your objective. In fact, we suspect that this effort is more about controlling women than saving unborn children (see point #5). Before legalization, women found ways of having abortions, in back alleys, by traveling and more. Plus there are medical interventions (like the “morning after pill”) that can be delivered to and administered at home. At most, you will ensure that women with fewer resources are more likely to die from lack of care (think back of the botched abortion stories, where women died at home of medical complications, too afraid to seek medical help). A recent UCSF study found that women denied abortion are four times more likely to live in poverty. They have more serious complications at the end of pregnancy, are more likely to stay with abusive partners, and often experience anxiety and depression.
- It’s not right when people fight for the life of an unborn child, but don’t care about helping children born into poverty, people born in a systemically racist world, people in prison, people with mental illness, etc. You say that a women must have a baby–but then she’s on her own in terms of giving that child a safe and tenable life (bare minimum…we haven’t even gotten to happy yet!!!). If you care when they are a zygote, you need to continue to care for the rest of their lives.
- If you are going to legislate vaginas, you also need to legislate penises. Think about it–whenever a women gets unexpectedly pregnant there’s a high probability that a penis was involved. In fact, I would argue that a women can be forced into pregnancy (rape, for example) but it’s highly unusual for someone’s sperm to be introduced into a women’s body without the man’s involvement and consent. You want this baby to be born but half of the equation has no accountability for bearing the results of that decision. How does that make sense?
- We are afraid that this is the beginning. Today, abortion rights, tomorrow the right to birth control services. Eventually, gay marriage, inter-racial marriage, women’s suffrage and who knows what else might be lost. We are on a slippery slope.
- If you hear nothing else, hear this: Everyone needs to vote. You need to vote. Vote every time you get a chance. Weigh in on every issue. Do your research. Vote your conscience. We are at a crossroads here, people…and we have to stand up and be heard.
So there you have it…the truth from the beaks of the Gray Geese. You’ve been goosed!