Throughout my childhood, being pro-life was made out to be some sort of prerequisite to being Catholic, or so I thought for most of my life. As a child, I didn’t want to be associated with being “pro-death,” so I was naturally drawn to being pro-life. I was told, “Thou shalt not kill,” and there were no further questions. Simple and to the point, who wouldn’t value the life of an unborn child? Because I was never exposed to the complexities of abortion, I thought people who were pro-choice were out of their minds. It seemed that all of my adult role models were pro-life, and the few important figures who thought otherwise never encouraged me to do my own research or think for myself. Impressionable and vulnerable, I labeled myself as pro-life and remained oblivious to the value of reproductive rights.
Before conducting some research about abortion opinions within the Christian community, I figured this group was primarily pro-life — especially considering the guilt surrounding sex, and the abortions that can result from stigmatizing pre-marital sex, that is taught in many churches. To no surprise, Republicans and Evangelical Christians are the most prominent pro-life demographic. Yet, less than half of Christians are actually pro-life. Pro-choice Christians are not as uncommon as they are perceived to be.
Despite the outsized prominence of the Christian pro-life lobby, only 34% of Americans actually support the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The six Supreme Court members who voted to reverse Roe want to control the uterus-bearing people of this country — that is the bottom line. Five out of the six justices who were in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade were men.
With the recent overturning of Roe, I’ve been reflecting on my own opinions about abortion, both past and present. Today, I realize that pro-lifers are simply uneducated or want to have control over women’s bodies, without addressing the ways minorities and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by this ruling. A life free of the trauma that an unwanted pregnancy can cause for a woman should outweigh the importance of a cluster of cells in her body.
While pro-lifers often argue that adoption is a better option than abortion, there are a couple issues with this line of thought. Over 400,000 children are currently in foster care in the United States, and about a quarter of them are awaiting adoption. Although individual experiences differ, children who are in the program often feel a lack of control and have self-esteem and attachment issues for the rest of their lives. The overturning of Roe v. Wade will only increase the flow of children into the system, meaning even more childhoods will be spent in foster care facilities. The kids who choose to leave the foster care system at age 18 with nowhere to go may contribute to the impoverished population in the United States, as they are likely to have little to no financial support — or emotional support for that matter. And when adoption is not an option, when an abortion is necessary for the mother to live, what do pro-lifers expect women to do?
People who are able to have children — especially in instances of incest, rape, sexual assault and underage pregnancies — need safe access to abortion services. If these services are not readily available, they may have no choice but to risk a pregnancy-related death or put their lives in danger by attempting to induce an abortion unsafely. Outlawing abortions will not reduce them, but it will disadvantage specific groups, potentially to the point of death.
It baffles me that some pro-lifers believe that some cells in a uterus deserve to live more than the person who carries those cells. Although I was young, I am extremely disappointed in the ignorant beliefs I once had, as I had no idea these risks existed. I was clueless about the trauma a mother may experience when carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.
Valuing human life in the form of an unborn fetus is incredibly limited and hypocritical if we are not also valuing the lives of children and mothers. Not only do I value life itself, but I value well-supported, happy and healthy lives. I value the safe abortions that women of the United States previously had the right to. I am terribly angry with the United States and its determination to make women second-class citizens. As I have grown up, I have become a feminist and educated myself about the challenges of being a woman in a world where we are not seen as equal. I am proud to say that I am now pro-choice, for the sake of women and their reproductive rights.
Leah Larsen is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.