Pro-Choice  — Opinion

By Caleb Harlow

I am pro-choice because I am pro-independence. I am of the opinion that my religion — or anyone else’s — has no place in the business of other people. I hate seeing Jesus used as a political weapon, but here we are again, having a discussion about the decisions other women will make.

I have many friends who have very strong opinions about life beginning at conception. I respect that this comes in part from a place of empathy. However, I have a major disconnect with what is commonly considered the pro-life movement.

While I see self-proclaimed “pro-lifers” petitioning the government for abortion to be restricted or eliminated completely, I have never seen them campaign against the death penalty, for healthcare reform, for refugees, for the homeless, for mental health care, or against poverty. Many claim that these are the responsibilities of churches and communities, but make abortion the exception to their rules. If you are willing to die on this hill top over the “unborn,” you will not convince me until you establish a firm, consistent philosophy on the sanctity of life that addresses the above and until you can tell me, on every issue, whether the Bible or the Constitution has greater authority.

Six years before Roe v. Wade was passed, an estimated 829,000 illegal abortions occurred in the United States each year. Annual death rates from illegal abortions prior to Roe v. Wade were estimated to be at about 5,000 deaths each year. Access to abortion in a safe and legal manner is crucial to save the life of thousands of women each year. Women rarely choose abortion as their first choice, and often the choice is made under circumstances where the woman has few, if any, other options.

This is where the Church can find its point of entry and a way to minister to its community — in offering people making these decisions every measure of mercy they need to live wise and whole lives. It is looking people in the eye and saying, “I trust you and I love you,” not, “My personal religious convictions on this matter should prevent you from seeking out the affordable, safe health care that you need.”

Exercise empathy, live out the whole Bible, and then —  and only then — can we talk about what women do with their bodies.