“I’m a Christian, but I don’t hate gay people.”
“I’m Jewish, but I eat pork.”
“I’m a vegetarian, but sometimes I eat fish.”
I’m one of those people: “I’m pro-life, but I actually give a damn about both the fetus and the mother, and support every available option to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place.”
It’s an uphill battle trying to dignify my stance, and I completely understand why: there are some shitty pro-lifers out there that are better described as pro birthers. They don’t (for some inexplicable reason) support government programs to help families in poverty. They don’t approve of contraceptives that decrease the chance of pregnancy. They don’t want life-saving education that can help people make responsible choices about sex. They don’t want any of that.
What they do want: to punish poor people for being poor. To punish women who have sex they don’t approve of. To punish women, period.
I listen to such politicians speak, I see the angry, shaming signs held up by protestors, and I want to stand on my own soapbox and scream I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.
I’ve been told I just need to find a different label. “Pro life” is just too tarnished. Fine. But inevitably, the new label (pro women and babies? Pro actual life?) will suffer the same negative branding, because that’s what happens when humans gather in the name of controversial causes. They want the same things but disagree on how to make them happen. They advocate in ways that help some and hurt others.
We know Christians who do hate gay people and Christians who welcome them with open arms. We know feminists with rhetoric that does not include non-white, non-cisgendered women. Do we need distinguishing labels for them, too? Can you see how confusing this gets?
You don’t have to agree with me, but I do wish you’d ask me what I mean when I call myself pro-life. I’ll be more than happy to tell you that it means I think the fetus is a viable being, but I don’t value the fetus over the mother. It means I support affordable contraceptives – which, ultimately, means supporting Planned Parenthood – because that is the method proven to be most effective at preventing pregnancy.
It means supporting comprehensive education that is not just about reproduction and bodily functions, but also addresses consent.
It means offering to watch a single mom’s kid for a few hours so she can sleep and catch up on homework, rather than hold up signs of butchered fetuses intended to shame people into thinking my way.
It means I’d rather adopt a child than have one the biological way.
Let me know if there’s anything I’ve left unclear. But for the love of all that is holy, do not lump me in with the extremist wackadoodles who happen to share the same label.