Oregon has a ballot measure that offers us the option to disallow public funds that go into state health plans from being used for abortion. The Yes on 106 site says:
Oregon ballot measure 106 is a statewide citizen initiative to stop our tax dollars from funding elective and late-term abortions.
Measure 106 doesn’t stop anyone from choosing an abortion, but it will give Oregon taxpayers freedom from having to pay for other people’s personal choices.
There are a lot of things to unpack here.
One is that abortion is an immoral choice that upstanding people shouldn’t have to pay for. We allow this to stand in Christianland because we don’t talk deeply about abortion and what it actually means for women. The less you can talk openly, the less chance to listen about all the moral abortion choices.
Since I started writing and talking about reproductive rights, I’ve gotten to hear a lot of stories. People of faith, I challenge you to start saying to more people that you believe in reproductive justice. If we don’t get to share our stories, people get to keep thinking God is with them and not with us. That’s not how God works. God is with all of us.
Here’s a story.
On a big anti-abortion protest day I was escorting a woman and her husband and toddler daughter to the front door of a clinic. She was getting an abortion. We had to walk by a Catholic priest with a microphone and some of his gathered. This kind of thing is awful for women, and yet we let it happen every week. We Christians gather to humiliate people in their most vulnerable moments. “They don’t even know me,” the woman said. “I’m married. I have a child.”
Her husband was taking their young daughter to a park while she was receiving care. I don’t know why they didn’t have childcare that day for their daughter so he could be with her. It could have been that our cultural dialogue on abortion is so terrible that you can’t tell anyone that you’re going in to have an abortion and need someone to watch your daughter. We talk about abortion in such hyperbolic and absolute terms that it’s even hard to talk with your closest friends. This is the toxic isolation that our abortion climate wreaks.
I’ve also heard stories of women who felt like an abortion saved their life from an abusive partner. Measure 106 won’t stop them, we hear.
“Measure 106 doesn’t stop anyone from choosing an abortion.”
“That’s right,” I can tell myself. Because I have money to pay. I know that another pregnancy would make me suicidal and be destructive to my family. When you have struggled with mental health you know that it’s critical to avoid things that take you to the darkest places. I’m allowed to make this moral decision because I can pay.
But for our poorest women in Oregon who work hard at jobs that don’t provide healthcare, Measure 106 does stop them. They work hourly jobs that don’t have paid sick leave or maternity leave. Low-wage jobs that mean it’s already impossible to afford the childcare they need for their first.
We can’t stand on these imagined morals when Jesus spends so much of his time talking about the poor. So much more than any other thing he talks about. He sits with the marginalized, the outcasts, the prostitutes. The people who have to make the toughest decisions. He might have something to say about Oregon taxpayers being released “from having to pay for other people’s personal choices.” But he might not have time to say it because he’d probably be sitting with the wife whose husband couldn’t be there with her and holding her hand.
Plenty of non-Christians and non-believers are pro-choice.
This blog post is for those of us who have holes in our hearts filled by God. Who are pro-choice and need to talk about it more. This toxic dialogue on abortion has to change, and we have a role to play in it.
Here’s a quote from Rev. Dr. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign:
“The faith [right now] is not in Christ and in justice and treating people right, but this kind of Christian Nationalism that says that if you hate gay people and if you hate abortion and if you want prayer in school and you believe in guns and you believe in state’s rights—that’s all God cared about. And that God doesn’t really care about health care, even though Jesus everywhere he went set up free health clinics…”
And a final thought. One of the key points in the Yes on 106 campaign says this:
“Today, anyone covered by OHP [Oregon Health Plan] can have an unlimited number of free abortions, for any reason and at any stage of pregnancy — even late-term abortions when the baby is perfectly healthy.”
I can not be clearer in stating, this is not what’s happening. Elective late-term abortions and unlimited free abortions are happening in the same way that trans people are assaulting children in bathrooms. Women who need late-term abortions because they will die or their child will die have to pay tens of thousands of dollars and fly to one of the few states where she can receive a medically necessary late-term abortion behind bullet-proof glass.
Women want to make moral choices for themselves and their families. It’s time to radically reinvent the dialogue.
Want to learn more about Measure 106, I recommend the “No Cuts to Care” website.