By Rev. Devon Thomas
This Independence Day, millions of women across the country no longer have the right to choose to have an abortion. I don’t think I am alone in feeling that this is not a moment where I feel our individual independence is being protected and honored by the institutions of our country.
I say this as a Christian minister of three progressive churches. I recognize that the Catholic Diocese of Vermont speaks for a lot of faith communities in our state, but I would argue that many, if not most, congregations in Vermont feel as I do about the Supreme Court ruling. I am saddened, angered and ashamed that so many women and people of color in our country have been robbed of what the vast majority of Americans have said needs to be a human right.
The freedom of choice is something we often argue over in this country. Choices of speech, or of gun ownership and choices of religion are all honored, but for women, our country now has ruled that they do NOT have the choice to control what is going on in their bodies, or even to determine what is best for themselves, their families and children.
As I have been listening to the arguments supporting this ruling, a lot of folks have brought up God as the one women should turn to now that our national government is incapable of helping. And while I agree that God is always a source of help, I disagree that a God of love would leave anyone without choice when it comes to bringing a human life into this world.
Having a child is a massive undertaking. As a father of two, I had no idea what women have to go through with pregnancy until I saw my wife go through it. Bringing a child into this world requires a massive amount of physical and financial strain, and parents need support to feed, cloth, watch over and provide for their children all the time. This commitment of time and resources is not something many in our country have access to, and unfortunately people can get pregnant by accident!
Women should have the ability to choose to have an abortion, or NOT to have an abortion, being pro-choice in not being anti-life. We should be living in a country where all women are safely able to be supported in having children. A lot of anti-abortion activists have been saying that now we can focus on supporting children. This makes no sense because the reason women need the choice of an abortion is because we do not support children. If the state cannot guarantee the security of a child’s life, as evident in the increasing number of impoverished and homeless families that include children, and the increasing cycle of school shootings that target defenseless children, it is not moral for the state to force women to have children.
As a minister I recognize most women do not have abortions because it is convenient for them. We need to stop assuming abortions are choices of convenience. For most people abortions are last choice options, and I would argue that the reason we see most abortions happening among disadvantaged communities is because these are our neighbors with the least amount of choice.
The Bible tells us to support our neighbors in times of struggle. “Bear one another’s burdens and, in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).” By taking away a woman’s right to choose, we are basically telling women they can’t decide or look out for themselves, and that is not what a good neighbor does.
The author is a Democratic candidate running for State Representative in Georgia and Fairfax. He is also a minister serving three churches in the area.