As I’ve gotten older and escaped the bubble that was my Catholic education, my relationship with Catholicism has been on the rocks. We don’t even go on Sunday dates like we used to, and we hardly ever agree anymore. I’d come to a point at which my morality was most certainly influenced by my religion, but in no way dictated by it. That is, except for one thing…you know…that dirty word…that “A” word…the one you definitely don’t talk about outside the context of the March for Life…
Yup. Abortion. Abortion was pretty much the one controversial social issue that the Church had me on. Abortion was the real remaining “relic of my religion,” if you will, the final cobwebbed antique that I had left on the shelf for later examination. I’m down with contraception, and I guess I would have been damned with the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah, but something about the Church’s rhetoric regarding abortion deeply affected me. Maybe it was the genocidal language, maybe it was the days of prayer for the souls of the aborted…who really knows. The demonization of abortion had been shoved down my throat since I was a kid, and I basically viewed the pro-choice movement as a bunch of heartless, irresponsible women killing their babies and refusing to face the consequences of their choices.
I wasn’t really as bad as I sound.
Even just writing that, admitting that now feels so wrong. Only now can I see the blame, presumption, and judgment in those thoughts. The funny thing is that before Moxie I never even fully grasped that these ideas being fed to me somehow got away with completely removing WOMEN from the conversation. When people talk about the evils of abortion, you almost never hear any acknowledgement of the woman’s rights; she is invariably relegated to an incubator for the growing life, willingly or otherwise, it matters not. Denying women the right to abortion is a violation of a woman’s right to control her fertility as well as an insistence that this fertility is the only role of womanhood. Putting limits on abortions is an assumption that women aren’t rational enough to make a life or death decision.
Let’s pause for a moment…isn’t that interesting? Strange how many of these same people protesting abortion rights support our MALE presidents in sending hordes of American soldiers to fight and die in wars. It’s not “respect for life” guiding the pro-life movement…it’s a stifling of female sexuality, a rejection of the rationality of women, and an effort to control women’s bodies. And the strangest part is—I don’t even think a lot of them realize it. I certainly didn’t, and that may be because the language around pro-life distances itself from women entirely.
Realizing this discord in dialogue between the two sanctions led to a real-deal feminist light-bulb moment: It’s an issue of defining women’s bodies solely as vessels for carrying babies. Abortion access means that society realizes a woman’s worth beyond her body and her agency over her body. Yes, child bearing can be a role of women’s bodies, but women, as autonomous beings, have the freedom to control if and when we want to accept that role; motherhood isn’t the sole purpose of the female being.
And here we have the whole point of feminism—empowering people to be masters of their own beings without outside judgment or control. This is why abortion rights are indispensable if we ever hope for gender equality, or really any equality. And this is why, after all these years, I couldn’t be prouder to say that I am pro-choice.