what’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn?
that since day one, she’s already had everything
she needs within herself. it’s the world that
convinced her she did not.
- rupi kaur
Rupi Kaur, a Toronto based writer, describes herself as a, “poetress and a spoken word performer.” Her poems from her first book, milk and honey, speak of survival, womanhood, abuse, love, and loss. Kaur’s words, here, remind me that women are resilient and that we should look to ourselves to find confidence, determination, strength and inner faith. From these traits, comes a sense of autonomy.
The anniversary of Roe v. Wade was Friday, January 22nd, celebrating the landmark decision by the Supreme Court that all women have the right to privacy when making a decision to have an abortion. This is why Kaur’s indication of women’s autonomy stuck out to me this past week. In the context of her poem, that we not only have confidence and strength, but inner faith as well, I recognize, and have for years, that I am a person of faith who supports reproductive rights and the moral agency of women to make decisions for themselves.
I was inspired by faith-based values that we have a right to take care of our own bodies. We must remember, though, that not all bodies are the same and not all situations are the same. We are on our own distinct journeys. Because of that, there isn’t one particular, right way of how we should take care of ourselves. This is why I believe women should have the right to make their own individual decisions with what they want to do with their bodies when it comes to reproductive rights.
Reproductive rights aren’t only concerned with the decision of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. Reproductive rights involve the right to plan a family, the right to use contraceptives, the right to have sex education in public schools, and the right to gain access to reproductive services. In order to make decisions for our precious bodies, we need to understand our own sexual lives and the rights that we should be given without question. We should have access to sex education and reproductive health and should know the resources to be able to make our own informed choices. I believe that the best place to discuss such rights should be within our faith communities because this is where we learn what values are, what is good, what is sacred, and what is safe. My faith helps guide me to make decisions about my body because I know that I have it within myself to make the right decisions.
My faith and faith community give me guidance when making any tough decisions. They give me strength. My faith, experiences as a woman and experiences by observing other women's journeys, has taught me that everyone should be respected and, therefore, that all women should be respected. We should help guide each other in times of need, and care for each other like we would like to be cared for. In other words, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” As Rupi Kaur so beautifully puts it, women have what they need within themselves, which is why I support reproductive rights and the moral agency of women to make decisions for themselves.
Amy Pettigrew is an Intern for the Methodist Federation for Social Action in Washington, DC. She is from Appleton, Wisconsin where she graduated from Lawrence University in June of 2015 with degrees in psychology and women's studies.