Being in the political middle is messy as it is lonely. I don’t have mutual respect for both dominant parties in the United States; I despise them both for a myriad for reasons (don’t worry, I have great love for my Democrat and Republican friends). Voting for the last few years has been a stomach-churning event that forces me to hold my nose as I mark my ballot (because as distasteful as I find both parties, not voting at all is never an option).
Elections, however we feel about them, have consequences. The effects may look different depending on who and where you are, but they are felt. Some people will benefit while others sink further into decline. Few people will remain completely unaffected.
This month, the United States witnessed the overturning of Roe v Wade, a decades-old decision that protected abortion as a constitutional right. My social media feed has been almost equally divided between unbridled rage and joy.
To be clear, my stance on abortion is pro-life. So why did I find myself so emotionally torn by this ruling?
The Middle Gets Messier
The truth is, I’m very concerned.
Concerned about the women whose legitimate miscarriages may be mistaken for attempted abortions, and will face legal penalties. Facing any legal penalty at all for seeking abortion never seemed like justice to me. Far too often, women seeking abortion are not inherently malicious or violent but often scared and desperate. Jail time will not help them, but counseling, resources, restraining orders and full custody from abusive partners, and living wages might.
I’m concerned about the women whose ectopic or otherwise non-viable pregnancies will be delayed medical care, and two lives will be lost when one could have been saved. I follow a handful of politically-minded channels that say this won’t happen, but…color me skeptical about politicians consistently telling the truth.
I’m concerned about the welfare of children born to parents who may struggle to love or care for them.
I’m concerned about the many pro-lifers who will see this verdict as the last item on a to-do list and get complacent. But banning abortion is not the same as making it unthinkable. There are struggling families and single moms in our communities who desperately need our time, help, spare bedrooms, meals, whatever we have to give. Now more than ever.
I hold all these concerns in tension with my firm conviction that life begins at conception. Contrary to popular belief, this is not just a spiritual issue for me.That “cluster of cells” is how we all began, with our unique DNA and other biological markers determined from the moment of conception. It is not a parasite, a tumor, or some other foreign substance, but human life at its earliest stage of development that is worthy of protection and dignity.
Laws Can’t Fix Hearts
Roe may be overturned, but make no mistake: we still live in a culture of death. And that is a rot that goes far deeper than any laws can fix. The vitriol coming from both sides of this issue has been nothing short of heartbreaking.
The truth is, there is blatant disregard for life on both sides of the aisle. There are pro-lifers heaping shame on single moms using government benefits to get by. There are pro-choice people treating what is objectively taking a life with alarming flippancy. What started as a procedure that most people agreed should be as rare as possible is now outright celebrated.
Meanwhile, many on the pro-life side consistently vote against changes in social policy that will alleviate some of the reasons women choose abortion in the first place. Some even say that “whole life” objectives harm the pro-life cause.
When Did Empathy Become Partisan?
I think a major reason I find myself in the middle of two extremes is because I grew up sandwiched between them both. My family is liberal and non-religious, and raised me in a community that was quite the opposite. I understand quite well what drives both sides of this issue. I do believe that, when it comes down to it, most people’s beliefs are driven by empathy. But that empathy shouldn’t be restricted to mother or baby. We can love them both. But it will cost us.
I’ve heard it said that being in the middle (too conservative for liberals and vice versa) means being “too cowardly” to pick a side; that being in the middle is just a way to make both sides like you. I am a bit of a people-pleaser, so there is some truth to that. If I wanted to please people, I could pick one tribe or the other and find myself embraced. But doing so would mean compromising my beliefs in some way or another.
I know and love women who have had abortions; some have regret, others do not. I know and love people who firmly believe it is murder. Being in the political middle doesn’t have to mean being inactive and apathetic. I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to have a willingness to understand why people believe the way they do. It’s part of being a good citizen and a good Christian.
My Work Will Not Change
No Supreme Court ruling should have an affect on anyone’s personal advocacy. I already brought meals to struggling families on food stamps, offered to babysit for foster families, and gave other resources as I was able to struggling parents in my community; nothing will change that. Whatever we were doing before, we have to step it up and do it harder. Complacency is not an option.
Pro-life convictions aside, it’s unsettling to contemplate what a post-Roe America will look like. It’s unsettling to think that the Supreme Court has set a precedent to overturn virtually any settled ruling in our nation’s history.
I’m concerned. Tired and concerned.