We are in the struggle. Major changes. Big emotions. Strong opinions.
So many complex issues on the table these past couple of years in the midst of great global challenges for all of us. Some days it feels as if we have lost our foundation. Like things are completely out of control.
Most of us are ill-equipped to maintain a state of health and wholeness as we face all of this. We are not skilled at navigating these complex conversations, or holding the duality of our reality.
Let’s talk abortion. Please note, I am a fellow traveler on the journey. I have opinions. I don’t have answers. I know I have a lot to learn. I hope this can provide some tools and resources that allow us to improve our ability to maintain our own mental, emotional and spiritual health as we navigate the world we are in, and give us some frameworks and questions to create positive change through respectful and direct dialogue.
Abortion. What thoughts come to mind as you read that word? What do you know about this topic? What are the facts and statistics surrounding this topic? Do you have personal experience with abortion? Do you know anyone who does? What beliefs do you hold and feel strongly about related to this topic? Get this all down on paper and take a look at it.
What parts of your answers are truth, rooted in facts, and which are based on beliefs and opinion? Are you able to consider that what you think and believe about this topic is not 100% accurate? If your initial response is no…we have a lot of work to do. We need growth mindsets, not fixed ones, when it comes to topics like this. It shows emotional and intellectual maturity to be able to have an opinion and stay open to opposing views.
Here’s some insight into my exercise.
Abortion: death, a right, sadness, regret, loss, difficulty, my body my choice, impossibility, life is sacred
In these words and concepts, you can see and feel the contradiction. I do believe that life is sacred. I do believe that we should have the ability to make decisions about our own bodies. I know that abortion means the ending of a life. I know that those who have made that choice have had to wade through the loss and difficulty. I know that some had no other choice but that impossible one in order to maintain their own life and health.
In terms of research, I have been using the Pew Research Center and the Guttmacher Institute to continue to educate myself on this topic, and I have also been engaging in conversation with friends who have personally experienced abortion. The annual number of U.S. abortions rose for years after Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure in 1973, reaching its highest levels around the late 1980s and early 1990s, according to both the CDC and Guttmacher. Since then it has generally decreased at what a CDC analysis called “a slow and steady pace.”
61% of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal all or most of the time, while 37% say it should be illegal all or most of the time. There is a lot in between yes and no, for or against. Those are the conversations we need to be able to engage in so that we can make productive progress.
We need to think through the “so what” of the laws and policies we enact. What are the short and long-term consequences? What are we “saying” by making these choices? Who are we impacting and how are they impacted? For instance, if we ban abortions, what will happen to those women whose lives are in danger because of an ectopic pregnancy? Who will support the young girl in poverty who is raped? What responsibility do men hold for these babies? What responsibilities do we hold as communities to support women and children?
We need to consider that laws and policies don’t change hearts and minds. Power and control are the easy way out. Creating safe spaces to talk about sex is not a choice, it is a necessity. If we really want to impact change, we have to do it through connection, relationship and conversation. By enacting laws and not allowing these important conversations, we create more division, ignorance and burden.
We need to start talking about the role that men, the family unity and community play in providing support to those in need. Limiting choice while abdicating responsibility and refusing support and resources is inhumane. Reach out to agencies who provide support and figure out how you can get involved and give. Talk to your representatives about the support systems, structures and services they are putting in place to support the health and wellbeing of women and babies. Talk to the men you know who are not actively supporting the women and children they are responsible for. Be respectful. Ask questions. Challenge and encourage them to do better with their money and their time.
We need to remember that all people deserve love and respect. In the midst of these conversations and decisions are humans. We have a way of dehumanizing each other and the people impacted. We cannot continue to do this when making decisions and expect to get to the right place. If you have a strong belief against abortion, and then become close to someone who has one, you will likely soften or even change your stance. Respect the humanity of every person involved. Stop dehumanization in your thoughts, words and actions. All people, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done or the way they think deserve love and respect. Period.
We need to be disciplined and proactive about caring for ourselves. Take breaks. Rest. Find outlets for the anger and the pain. Schedule time for activities and people that make you happy. Allow pain to exist with joy. These things are required if we want to stay engaged long-term and create sustainable, positive change. Do your research. Check your own thoughts, words and actions. Start conversations with everyone you know. Reach out to your representatives. Create coalitions and strategies to advocate. Get curious. Speak up with respect. Listen with an open heart and open mind. Practice forgiveness. It’s going to take hard work internally and externally to make progress.