On February 23, I travelled to the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul for Pro-Choice Lobby Day with Becky Katz ‘14. While there I attended a workshop focused on religion and choice. So often the “anti-choice” movement approaches issues of life from a faith-based perspective, therefore, it is imperative that people of faith can explain why pro-choice issues are important, but also in keeping with their faith.
Three faith leaders spoke about why the pro-choice movement fits into their personal faith. Lutheran minister Rev. Kelli Clement began by describing her three pillars of faith and choice, supported by God’s Holy Word.
1. The complexities of life mean that we live in the grey area.
2. We cannot be reduced to bumper sticker theology lest we lose our dignity by living in the black-and-white, ignorant of God’s acknowledgment of complexity.
3. God asks that we celebrate our sexuality and therefore sex-education ought to be encouraged and normalized.
She is a woman of faith, a woman who lives in the grey area, and makes her decisions with dignity. She is a woman of faith who believes in choice.
Interestingly enough, the Jewish faith, indeed, its scripture, has no objection to abortion. Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman opened with the beautiful Hebrew scripture that says life begins at breath. She also made it a point to note that it is Jewish law to do everything possible to save a living, breathing life - even violate the Sabbath. Therefore, if abortion is in the best interest of the potential mother, be it her mental, physical, or emotional state of health, then it is the life-affirming choice. Not only this, but such a complex decision honors the wisdom bestowed upon us by the Divine; He trusts that we, as multi-faceted, thinking human beings, can make the right decision for us. She closed by emphasizing how access to health care, including abortion care, is vital in order to care for the health of the living, breathing woman.
Rev. Luke Stevens Royer, a Unitarian Universalist minister, began by identifying his own pillars of belief: he calls himself Pro-faith, Pro-family, Pro-choice, and Pro-justice. Firstly, he believes the scripture tells him that reproduction is a human right, as given to us by God. As a pro-family man, he also acknowledges that what affects one directly affects all indirectly. He believes that we should raise children in safety and love, not poverty or cruelty. He believes that God is always present and, in turn, weeps with us in our sadness and celebrates our joy. However, he also believes in justice and choice; these are not separate from being pro-faith or pro-family. He believes planning for a loving, healthy family life does not merit a limit on contraception. Moreover, such a restriction limits a constitutional right: our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, he prays for a community where choice lies only in the hands of those who would have to choose and justice provides the opportunity for all women to decide what is right for her and her present or future family.
As a young woman, I feel strongly about choice. As a woman who has worked with poor inner-city students who have multiple children by eighteen, my heart breaks for them and the poverty into which their children are born. As a woman who identifies as Christian, I believe God tells me to love my neighbor. He tells me to care for the oppressed. He also tells me in Psalms to sing and rejoice for the Lord is with me. I cannot believe that this God who loves me and whom I love would ask me to give birth to an unwanted child of rape, to a child I am not ready to have, to a child whom I cannot care for, or a child who will not live. As a compassionate, thinking, person of faith, I believe these decisions are between my God, my family, and myself – not my government, hospital, or strangers. I believe we live in the grey area and that we should make our choices with strength, dignity, and faith in whomever we choose. Because choice is a blessing and a right.