Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Why I'm a Pro-Choice Christian

Why I'm a Pro-Choice Christian

Because common sense.
(credit: Getty Images)

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Many years ago, I belonged to a more conservative church; it could accurately be described as evangelical, and I could be accurately described as the token progressive among the parishioners there. How I came to join that church is a story for another day.

When we weren’t talking politics, life was great, but when we were, it could be exasperating.

On the morning of the 2008 presidential election—you’ll remember Pres. Obama’s historic victory that evening—our church sent out a rare email to the entire congregation which basically encouraged them, without explicitly saying so, to vote for Sen. John McCain.

The email explained that abortion should be the most important issue for voters and that our church is against abortion and congregants should support the anti-choice candidate, which, of course, was Mr. McCain.

For a number of reasons, I was not pleased with the email. It felt wildly inappropriate for any church, particularly one benefitting from a tax-exempt status, to write such a blatantly partisan email.

So… I took my time writing a response and then hit “reply all” to the hundreds of folks on the list.

I explained that I know politics can be stressful and abortion is a particularly fraught issue but we live in a country founded on freedom from religion and that neither I nor anyone else—and certainly not the government—has any business telling women what to do with their bodies.

Well, the responses came quickly from fellow parishioners who were not exactly pleased with my position and let me know they were displeased in no uncertain terms.

Call it my youthful arrogance at 23, but I wasn’t backing down on this, and I politely responded to all the spirited critiques. About an hour into the email chain, one of the pastors stepped-in and asked everyone to halt the conversation. This had clearly not gone as planned, and it was time for the church to save face.

But something pretty great happened after that: over the following week, I got emails and texts from many friends in the church who had been uncomfortable with the initial email telling us how to vote and wanted to say something but had felt alone.

We all started talking to each other more. It turns out I wasn’t as much a token progressive as I’d thought. In fact, there were numerous folks in the church who supported abortion access.

I am pro-autonomy. I am pro-independence. I am pro-choice. My religious views have no place in the affairs of other people. What someone does with their body is none of my damn business — that goes for any reason but especially when their life is in grave danger. That’s my primary problem with anti-choice extremists.

But my secondary disconnect with the so-called "pro-life" message, aside from the obvious autonomy issue, is that very rarely have I seen so-called “pro-life” folks argue as passionately for universal healthcare or refugee assistance or reforming our nation’s gun laws or abolishing the death penalty or eradicating poverty or funding mental health or eliminating homelessness, etc.

And by passionately, I mean posting on social media with similar outrage, protesting on the steps of the Supreme Court, burning up the pulpit in church, marching in the streets — basically, everything so-called “pro-life” people do on this one particular issue that’s strangely absent on every other issue.

I feel that, for so-called “pro-life” people, what truly separates abortion from all other matters of life and death is an implicit, religious need to shame and control women's sexuality.

There is an undeniable theme of alleging “irresponsibility” and “selfishness” and "promiscuity" on the part of women that is framed, packaged and touted by the anti-choice movement.

It isn't just inaccurate and insulting and degrading; it is absolutely deadly to women.

It is an attack on women and their families and their medical providers, folks who have to make hard choices and should never be shamed for doing so.

Show me in your Bible where it talks about poverty when you say government shouldn't create social safety nets for the most vulnerable but, weirdly, should subsidize enormous tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy.

Show me in your Bible where it talks about the Good Samaritan when you make a decision to walk past the homeless or say that your tax dollars shouldn't go to pay for someone else's healthcare or demand that undocumented migrants should go back to their own country.

Show me in your Bible where it talks about turning the other cheek while you claim that "civilian collateral damage" is necessary to the security of a free state, whether it be drone warfare or unfettered access to firearms?

Show me in your Bible where it talks about avoiding judgement while you claim to fully understand and dictate the very personal decisions of women and families.

You say your heart is full of Christ's love, but why does that only manifest itself on this particular issue and not others?

I would press on why, but we all know the answer. Women are an easy target to project society’s self-righteousness. Women always have been an easy target for society’s performative outrage.

Eating women alive is a time-honored tradition in our country. What a woman does with her body is not a big step up from what clothes she can wear, the inflection and tone of her voice, the sexual violence inflicted on her (and blamed on her), the choice of her profession, her marital status, whether or not she has kids, how and why and when and where she has sex, etc.

The anti-choice movement absolutely believes that women’s lives are so dispensable that they’re a small price to pay for relentless control, and that is not a teaching from Christ.

I’m a Christian from Texas, and I don’t have a uterus. Supposedly, I should be incredibly easy to convince that abortion access is somehow wrong and should be a top priority of lawmakers, and yet, I remain completely unmoved.

Because I know abortion is an easy issue for extremists to harp on. It requires nothing of them beyond expressing condemnation of others. Judging others is a lot easier than helping others, which also happens to be Christ’s predominant message.

So, please, lose me with the so-called faith arguments against abortion, and find some time to actually read your Bible.

You may be shocked by what you find.

yes, I would love some coffee

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Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte Clymer is a writer and LGBTQ advocate. You've probably seen her on Twitter (@cmclymer). This is the podcast version of her blog "Charlotte's Web Thoughts", which you can subscribe to here: