Posts Tagged ‘reproductive choice’
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.
As I queued up outside The White House at 6am yesterday morning, I couldn't help ask again and again “Why is this queer, pro-choice, Protestant showing up to see the Pope?”
Looking around at my companions snaking our way toward the entrance as the sun rose over the District, I knew why I was there. Men and women in uniform, priests in cassocks and collars, Sikh men wearing turbans, school children and young adults, and LBGTQ political and religious leaders – all of us together to make our way to the South Lawn for such an historic moment. In that moment of epiphany the differences among us, while important, melted for just a few moments of awe and reverence. And in some small way, it wasn't about us seeing the Pope, but the Pope seeing us.
From the moment he emerged from his Fiat (Latin nerds, I know you get the inside joke here) until he waved to onlookers from The White House balcony, Francis embodied to humility we have come to know during his time as Pope. In a few brief moments, he spoke of inclusion and justice, religious freedom, safeguarding the poor, caring for the Earth. Francis framed his comments in theological terms, calling for common values to pervade the public sphere and to see one another as created in the image of God. While my experience and perspective might bring me to a different conclusion on major theological concerns (specifically LGBTQ and reproductive justice), Pope Francis’ grounding in the concept of imago Dei is one that crosses boundaries.
This isn't to say that the Pope’s visit to America isn't fraught with concern. From the canonization of Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary who led the genocide of Native tribes in 18th century California, to the displacement of hundreds of homeless persons along Philadelphia’s Parkway, the Pope’s message of justice and compassion come with complex messages. This morning, I'll be joining other faithful people (and those of no faith at all) for a Moral Rally on Climate Change. And I'm clear that concerns about climate change must also intersect with concerns about poverty, war, racism, colonialism, and reproductive health, choice, and justice. I'm also clear that Pope Francis is a strong voice for justice and mercy to Catholics and non-Catholics alike– both in America and across the globe. I look forward to hearing his remarks to Congress, not because I believe he will impart some political zinger, but because he seeks to be pastoral to other spiritual and temporal leaders. Such pastoral care breaks through the dichotomies of Catholic vs. Protestant, Christian vs. non-Christian, Conservative v. Liberal, and creates a space where faith and values undergird how we engage lives of public service.
As Pope Francis continues his time in DC and the remainder of his time in North America, I pray continued safety, clarity, and boldness. And I pray the same for each of us, created in the imago Dei, as well.
Chett Pritchett is Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. He is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College and Wesley Theological Seminary, and is a member at Dumbarton UMC in Washington, DC.