pro woman

Sharing this here for those of you who are not Facebook users.

Okay, I hesitate to enter into this ongoing laborious conversation, but here goes. 

I am aware that for many people the issue of abortion is a sacred one, with the belief that the sanctity of life begins at conception and that a woman’s own sense of her self as sacred is somehow damaged in the act (though I might argue from my own experience that the meaning and shame we, as a culture, attach to the act does far more damage to her).  I appreciate and understand the distress, perhaps more even than some, having labored and delivered 2 separate 20 week preterm fetuses who died, one of whom struggled to hang on to life for an hour, whose hearts beats were as music to me and whose fully formed features are etched in my memory. I also delivered two 6 1/2 and 7 month infants, who were kept alive by machines that breathed for them for months, and who now are fathers of daughters themselves. So I understand it is difficult to separate the threads.

 However, I also know that for SOME people, there is a strong relationship between an anti-abortion stance and the objectification and control of women’s bodies. Suddenly, in election seasons such as this one especially, those folks jump on the sanctity of life bandwagon as if they truly honored women and children and the sacred trust of bringing life into the world. They bring it out of the attic and wave it like the flag to arouse indignant fury, controlling the sentiments of the body-politic, as they seek to control the bodies of women.

I also believe that a woman’s body, as bringer of life, is sacred and that she has the responsibility to honor that sanctity, with full consciousness and intention, entering fully into the role of motherhood with love and due diligence. It is a sacred trust that she enters into when she chooses to bring a new life into this place.

For many of us, a time is imagined (a matriarchal period, perhaps) when we had the right to name and to choose when we had the resources to honor that responsibility…physical and emotional maturity, community resources (tribe), family support, food, shelter, steadfast companion etc. We celebrated and intentionally sanctified the time when we were ready to accept males into our bodies in order to honor that lifebearing trust. We also had the wisdom and knowledge to know when and how to induce miscarriage (with herbs etc) if we were not able to honor that trust. We dream of a time when that might be a respected reality in the future. We also dream of a time when the culture we live in is supportive- economically, emotionally, resource-fully – of a woman, young or old, giving birth to a child.

However, that time is not yet upon us. As long as our bodies are viewed as objects to be used for another’s objectives rather than something sacred, then genital grabbing is considered trivial, marital rape is considered ‘impossible’, rating of f***able worth is fair game, and a woman’s ability to choose for herself when she is ready and able to bear life and to nurture it is considered out of her domain. In these cases another has the right to do with our bodies whatever they deem acceptable.

I believe that for another person to deem what is acceptable as far as when we decide to enter into the sacred trust of bringing a life into the world is similarly a statement that our bodies are not our own but objects of another’s determination. Whether it is forced upon us physically in an act of unwanted sexual contact or forced upon us by the laws of the state, it is dishonoring of our bodies and of our wisdom as women, and a misunderstanding of how we are made to receive and to give with the whole of our being, not merely our genitalia and breasts.

I know the arguments that will come. That she should just keep her legs closed if she wants to be intentional. Perhaps, if you believe that sex is merely for procreation and not at all about the deep human need for connection and intimacy and the sharing of mutual and reciprocal joy. Perhaps if birth control were not also under the control of the church and the state instead of in women’s hands and bodies. Or you will argue that if we wait for all children to be intentionally, consciously invited into this place, then none would come at all, for the enormity of entering into that sacred trust would overwhelm all but the very naïve. Or perhaps you will remind me that the arrival of children is a blessing, one that transforms even the most resistant mother, gifting her in ways she cannot possibly understand from the other side. To these, I say yes, I understand.

And I can live with the paradox and the tension inherent in this place of both/and. Of knowing from my own experience that a 20 week fetus or a 29 week preterm delivery are imbued with the presence of life, sacred and precious. And of knowing, from my own experience, that there are times when the most sacred word you can say is ‘No’

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristen SB
    Oct 23, 2016 @ 14:37:25

    Vicky, I’ve read this. I’ve re-read it. And I’ve read it again. Thank you for an intelligent, spiritual, and whole bodied consideration of a deeply personal topic. I am grateful.



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