Gilead, TX

Many right-to-lifers believe life begins at conception and a zygote has the same inalienable rights as a fully developed human. And because a zygote is defenseless, right-to-lifers see themselves as self-appointed and divinely anointed protectors of the unborn. 

It’s a crusade for these people.

With placards and posters splattered with images of aborted fetuses, they march at pro-life rallies, scream at, harass, and intimidate women at abortion clinics, and vote only for pro-life candidates (regardless of the candidate’s character or qualifications – see Donald J Trump). 

On the other side of the issue, pro-choice advocates feel just as strongly about women’s autonomy over their bodies. Pro-choicers believe any decision around pregnancy is solely up to the woman – her body, her choice. They believe life begins outside the womb after the baby is born and that being forced to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term, based on someone else’s philosophical or religious views, is an unacceptable assault on autonomy and human dignity.

Pro-choicers march at rallies, support organizations that provide reproductive health services to women, and vote only for pro-choice candidates. 

From a plumbing and religious perspective (male/atheist), I don’t feel emotionally invested enough to opine on either side of the issue.

But maybe a lower emotional investment makes me more objective? 

Don’t mistake my decision to speak out as telling others what to do or what to believe – in the end, we make our own decisions. Well, hopefully we do.

As I said, I don’t believe in God or heaven or the notion of a soul – I see no evidence of any of these things. I believe we are born of biology, just like every other animal. I believe our lives are shaped primarily by what happens ( the good and the bad) after entering the world. 

That said, none of us can deny the fact we all begin in the exact same manner, moving from a fertilized egg to embryo, from an embryo to fetus, and finally, from a fetus to a baby. Disrupting that process through abortion prevents a natural biological transformation. Without that disruption (and if all goes well), the end result is a baby – soul or no soul. 

There can be many reasons why a woman decides to disrupt that biological process. And those reasons can run the gamut from the profoundly emotional to the detached and dismissive. 

I imagine how a woman feels about her pregnancy depends on the circumstances surrounding it and that those circumstances can vary greatly. Maybe it’s a pregnancy from a casual and consensual fling, maybe it’s a meticulously planned pregnancy with a life partner, or maybe it’s a pregnancy resulting from violent rape. Each circumstance is going to evoke different emotions and thought patterns. In addition to the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy, the situation of the individual woman is also unique. Is she emotionally stable and physically healthy? Does she have a solid social and familial support system? Is she financially independent? Is she able to support another human being emotionally, physically, and financially?

Right-to-lifers say the circumstance of the pregnancy and the situation of the woman is not what matters most. When it comes to pregnancy, the focus is not on how or why the woman became pregnant or whether she can support a child. Instead, right-to-lifers put all their focus and support on the unborn child. 

Regardless of how the seed was planted, in the eyes of a pro-lifer, the woman transforms from an autonomous human being to a vessel – as soon as fertilization occurs.   

Imagine having no say. No voice. This is the most important and challenging thing for men to wrap their heads around.

Imagine being told by the state that regardless of the circumstance of your pregnancy or your physical, emotional, and financial status, you have no say in your pregnancy after reaching the six week marker.

After that six week marker, you will do what you’re told. 

You will have that baby, whether you want to or not. Whether you can care for it or not.

Whether you were raped or whether you were little careless with your birth control.

it. Does. Not. Matter.  

You have no say. 

Imagine how that makes a person feel.

Stripped. 

One group believes that from the moment of conception, the woman’s role is that of a vessel. The other believes all the goings-on in a woman’s body (including fertilizing that egg) is the woman’s business and nobody else’s.

Neither side will ever budge from their firmly held beliefs, and legislation sure as hell won’t change minds. All legislation does in the case of abortion is make access easier or more difficult. It never changes minds. 

The legislation in TX clearly makes getting an abortion more difficult. But let’s be honest, a wealthy woman in TX who wants to terminate her pregnancy will not be deterred by legislation. As has always been, women with means will find a way. They’ll get on a plane to go “visit” their cousin. But, like so many other laws, the law in TX will have a far more significant impact on those without means.

Suggested guidelines, questions, and suggestions before weighing in on someone else’s decision to terminate their pregnancy:

How does someone else’s decision about their pregnancy affect you at all? It doesn’t.

If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one.

Believe an aborted fetus has a soul? Great then, all the aborted are in heaven, basking in the glow of an all-loving God.

Believe all beings will be judged by God after they die? OK then, let God dispense judgment at that time.

That’s God’s job, not yours or mine.

And if we were serious about wanting to reduce the number of abortions in America, we’d be looking at national standard for sex education in public schools, with frank and honest discussions about sex, responsibility, and consequence.

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