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Keeping the Faith in the Pro-Choice Movement

by Nicole ClarkPEP Young Women's Leadership Council

Have you ever felt like a perpetrator, being involved in or doing something and believing that you just don’t belong? I would feel this way at times while sitting in the pews in Sunday morning church services. Growing up as a Southern Baptist, I was surrounded by members of the congregation who clapped, danced, raised their hands and faces to the ceiling in praise and worship, I would often wonder if these people in sync with the same God as I. I often felt out of place because even though I believed in what most people who consider themselves religious would believe, I didn’t however agree with a lot of things.

Many religious individuals believe that homosexuality is wrong and that lesbian women and gay men should not be allowed to marry; I believe that if you happen to find the one that you feel you can spend the next 50 years with, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, why not make it official? Many religious individuals also believe that the man should be the head of the household and family. Why not make it an equal partnership between both spouses, with each individual having an equal say in what happens  inside as well as outside the house? Many religious individuals believe that abortion is wrong. However, I am  beginning to see more and more that this is not the case, one notion being that mainstream society assumes that ALL people that are religious are opposed to abortion.

When does life truly begin? For some of us it begins as soon as the sperm meets the egg. For others, it begins when you hear the baby’s first cry. I started thinking of this as young as elementary school, where I would ask myself, “Well, if God says that we are alive and human when we are conceived, then why aren’t we considered 9 months old when our moms push us out?” It may sound silly to think about it now, but it does make some sense. Does life begin at conception or after we are born? Do we consider a fetus to be a living breathing person when we want the pregnancy to occur or do we consider it null and void when the  pregnancy is unplanned or unwanted? I wanted to know if there were others like myself out there. Others that were grounded in their spiritual beliefs while also believing in equality for all people. I found it hypocritical for many places of worship to tell their followers to love your neighbor as yourself, just as long as you did not  extend that love to anyone that was gay/lesbian, an advocate for gay marriage, or for freedom of choice.

For years I have struggled with some of the Bible’s teachings. Why would the Bible teach you to love everyone but shun those who were not ‘like you’? I became involved in sexual and reproductive rights while in college. While it was new and excitingto me, I was beginning to have concerns about what my newfound beliefs would have on the religious foundation that I have grown upon. I started to define what about my faith has led me to being prochoice. Although I continue to find conflicts with many of the Bible’s teachings, I did know that life, or the beginning of it rather, is not fully explained. There is no indication that we are considered human beings at conception or after we leave our mother’s womb. After all, abortion is not even mentioned.

This was the defining moment for me when I realized that God has given all of us free will to do what we can with our lives and for us not to be judgmental on what someone decides to do in their private life. I feel that it is great that there are people out there like myself that are looking at the complexity of the relationship between faith and the pro-choice movement. I also find it wonderful that there are organizations such as Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice that challenge the notion that one cannot be prochoice and pro-faith. Although I continue to think about the prochoice/
pro-faith aspect of my life everyday, I do feel better about keeping my faith in the pro-choice movement.

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