Recently, several states have passed “heartbeat” bills. These bills severely limit access to abortions. In fact, they so criminalize not giving birth that a woman will undergo criminal investigation for a miscarriage. Let that sink in. As a pastor, I have witnessed firsthand the devastating effect a miscarriage has on a woman and her family. I have held the hand of a woman whose life was turned upside down by the tragedy of a miscarriage and wept with her as she struggled with the emotional pain. I have had to provide counsel as she walked the difficult spiritual journey of recovery after the miscarriage. The Religious Right would like to add a criminal investigation on top of this.
These bills are not about the sanctity of life; they are just a political maneuver to overturn Roe V. Wade. The rise of the religious Right as a political force has been well documented. I have blogged how the Religious Right used abortion as a rallying point for disparate religious groups and as a way to obfuscate their racist agenda. I have also blogged about how Fundagelicals aren’t pro-life but pro-birth. The current heartbeat bills were written with one goal in mind, to get challenged in court. With the recent appointment of two conservative judges to the Supreme Court, the Religious Right sees this as their time to challenge abortion in the Supreme Court again.
As a white male born into middle-class privilege, I hesitate to speak too definitively on this issue. It is more complex than the talking points thrown out by Religious Right. I do consider myself pro-life. However, with the proclamation of being pro-life, I include all life. I support pre-natal care, infant health programs, WIC, pre-school programs for all children, school lunch programs, paid maternity leave, before-school programs, after-school programs, vaccinations, free-college for all, job training programs, anti-drug programs, anti-gang programs, comprehensive sex education, birth control programs, family planning programs, free health screenings, mental health programs, sanctuary for refugees, senior wellness programs, meals-on-wheels, and I stand against the death penalty. To be “pro-life” means to support all life and promote the wellbeing of all people. If you claim life is sacred, then all life is sacred. If you claim life is sacred, then you must act to protect every life at every stage and promote the wellbeing of every person.
Rather than criminalizing abortion, why doesn’t the Religious Right help make abortions unnecessary? Why doesn’t the Religious Right push for what’s happening in Colorado instead of what is happening in Georgia?
What caused the drop in teen pregnancy and abortion? It was comprehensive sex education and access to long-acting reversible contraceptives. The Religious Right opposes these programs. “I’m not paying for some expensive program so teens can have sex.” The cost of these programs is often cited as being fiscally irresponsible. The article points out that these programs actually save money. “Fewer unplanned pregnancies also means fewer parents who aren’t financially able to care for a child; as a result, the state and federal government actually save money as the number of people in need of aid programs declines. A Guttmacher study determined that for every dollar spent on family planning programs, the government saves $7.09 on other programs. Which means Colorado’s program pays for itself and then some.”
Anyone who claims to be anti-abortion must be pro-comprehensive-sex-education and pro-birth-control. The Religious Right is neither. They prefer to be “abstinence-only education.” These programs are ineffective, and students under these programs were more likely not to use contraceptives, have unplanned pregnancies, and contract an STI. The Religious Right is anti-sex and pro-birth. They care little for life.
The political climate is about to get heated over these new heartbeat bills, and a Supreme Court showdown is almost guaranteed. It is time to stop allowing the Religious Right from using this issue to push their Christian Dominionist agenda. If you consider yourself pro-life, then instead of criminalizing sex and abortion, both of which have proven to be unsuccessful, advocate for comprehensive sex education and access to long-acting reversible contraceptives both of which have been proven to be successful. It is the morally and fiscally responsible thing to do.
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