God’s Will And My Body
“You know, this is that issue that every candidate for federal or even state office faces. And I have to certainly stand for life. I know that there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view. But I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case — of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” – Richard Mourdock
I haven’t always been an atheist heathen. I was raised Catholic, baptized as a baby, received my communion, and was confirmed as a member of the Catholic church as a teenager. At 16, I would accompany a friend to youth group in the Baptist church he belonged to. I prayed when things were good and prayed even more when things got rough. I believed that my past friends and relatives were watching me from heaven and I hoped that I was a good enough person to land there myself. And then, I went through a string of awful events in my life that no amount of prayer or belief could fix. I was even shunned by a local Catholic church for having a child out of wedlock. I lost my belief and I’m okay with it, but I do still understand and respect those who believe in God and would never insult them for it.
I was trying to avoid weighing in on Mourdock’s comment, but it’s been bothering me and I can’t seem to escape it. It’s a topic that hits close to home in a way for me; I didn’t get pregnant due to a rape or anything of that nature, but I went through some other things on the list of things a woman should never experience. I also lost 90% of my belongings, including things that are irreplaceable. The list goes on and is a tad too personal to list here, but the point is that I suffered and was surrounded by people telling me that it was God’s will and that God had a plan for me. God was pushing me, testing me, and preparing me for something great. God would never give me more than I could handle, so I shouldn’t worry. God knows best. I’m sorry, but I can’t believe that my personal shit storm was part of some greater being’s plan for me.
I understand the belief that life is a gift from God. The creation of a human life is a special thing regardless of religion and should be respected. I understand the belief that life begins at conception; I don’t think the fetus can be considered a life until further into the pregnancy, as it is too underdeveloped in those early stages, but I respect those who believe it begins at the moment the sperm and the egg collide. What I do not and cannot respect is the idea that God has it in His plan for women to be brutally raped and for a pregnancy to result. I do not believe God would want these women to be mentally scarred and to bear a child that is a constant reminder of this violent and personal attack. I do not believe that anyone would continue to worship a God that would cause so much pain and suffering, throwing babies into awful situations with abandon.
This is ultimately an issue of whether or not abortion is right and proper. Is it wrong for a woman to get an abortion regardless of the situation or is it wrong only when abortion is used as a form of birth control due to the irresponsible actions of the man and woman? Mourdock isn’t the only one who feels abortion is wrong; Republican Todd Akin stated that women cannot get pregnant if they are victims of “legitimate rape” because their bodies will just say no. It amazes me what people will say when they are pro-life and believe abortion to be a horrible and unthinkable act. To say that a pregnancy caused by rape is God’s will or to say that a pregnancy is impossible if the rape isn’t legitimate is insulting, incorrect, ignorant, and pretty idiotic.
The National Abortion Federation states that “surgical abortion is one of the safest types of medical procedures. Complications from having a first-trimester aspiration abortion are considerably less frequent and less serious than those associated with giving birth. Early medical abortion (using medications to end a pregnancy) has a similar safety profile.” Research shows that abortions performed before the 24th week of pregnancy do not cause the fetus any pain since they happen before cells are specialized, so there can be no pain to the fetus because there are no nerve cells formed yet. In some cases, choosing abortion is a better option than having the baby. This naturally doesn’t mesh well with everyone’s beliefs, but women should be given the right to choose and to seek out abortions so long as they are done safely in a clinic and done early on in the pregnancy.
Abortion is now and should remain an option for women who are raped and find themselves pregnant while still reeling from their attack. Women should have the right to rid themselves of every memory of a rape, especially in the case of incest, without being made to feel guilty, to feel like monsters, or to feel like it wasn’t a rape because they secretly wanted it to happen. I find it wrong when women get 7 or 8 abortions due to their irresponsibility with birth control, but I respect their right to do what they wish with their body and with the fetus prior to it becoming too developed. In the case of rape, there should be no question of whether a woman has the right to abortion, and especially no nonsense about the father’s rights; once he made the decision to sexually assault a woman, he lost his rights to any child that may have come from that attack.
It frightens me a bit how much and how strongly religion is brought into politics. There is meant to be a separation between church and government, and we’ve definitely seen evidence of this in our schools, as Christmas celebrations have become treeless holiday parties, prayers are banned, and God must be absent. We are so extreme about keeping our children in a religion-free learning environment, yet the people who we elect to lead us, both state and countrywide, are allowed and almost expected to make their religion known and to quote their God while proposing policy?
This is not a country where God is an absolute. Not to be rude, but you can’t prove His existence and you can’t force every person in this nation to accept Him as their one and only God. As such, this country should not have to hear politicians throw God around while trying to create such serious policies as the legality of abortion and whether or not a fetus is a viable life during the first trimester of pregnancy. Of course the politician should use their belief system to guide them, but they should not be coming out and stating that X is true because God says so. That isn’t law. To a nonbeliever such as myself, that is fiction. It’s convenient to say God wills it so, and since God cannot be seen, heard, or confirmed, it’s all too easy to say X and Y is His will since it cannot be questioned.
Everyone is free to believe what they will, but when you are a person who has the power to change our nation, you must base your arguments in logic and provide concrete information and solid reasoning. Had Mourdock simply stated that he has a moral issue with abortions in any case and while he sympathizes with woman in situations of rape and incest, he simply can’t say that he is in full support of abortion, I doubt people would be hitting him as hard as they are right now. Instead, he chose to throw God into the mix and declare it His will that victims of rape and incest find themselves pregnant. He made himself look foolish and he reconfirmed my belief that there are too many politicians using God as their scapegoat when they can’t quite find the right argument to use in order to make their point.
I want to conclude with the words of Reverend Susan Russell, Episcopal priest from California:
As a priest and pastor I can’t count the number of times I have met with, talked with, counseled with and engaged with people who struggle to make sense of “the God thing.” Many of those conversations start out with the statement “I don’t believe in God.” But once I get them to tell me about the God they don’t believe in, it turns out I don’t believe in that God either. Because here’s the deal: If I thought my only choice was between “Richard Mourdock’s God” (who “intends” that a woman bear the child of her rapist) and “No God,” then I would be an atheist faster than Mitt Romney can change positions on a political issue.
But I am not an atheist. The God I know and serve is one of justice, love and compassion — not judgment, exclusion and condemnation. The Jesus I follow is the one who preached peace, challenged poverty and liberated women. And the church I belong to is one that stands proudly in the prophetic tradition — committed to putting our faith into action on the issues of social justice that challenge our generation just as our forbears did in theirs.
As theologically indefensible as I find his position on a woman’s right to choose, the First Amendment protects his right to be whatever kind of Christian or Muslim or Jew or Buddhist or Atheist they choose to be. What the First Amendment does NOT protect is the right of any of us to write our theology into our Constitution — something Joe Biden got totally right in his vice presidential debate with Paul Ryan: “I accept my church’s position that life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman. I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that women can’t control their body.”
There are many things at stake in this presidential election, but choosing between faith and freedom is not one of them. Protecting the freedom of others to believe what they choose to believe about what “God intends” protects not only our own freedom to believe what “God intends” but defends our democracy from the very real threat of theocracy embodied in the policies of candidates like Richard Mourdock. And that is a battle worth fighting — no matter what you believe or don’t believe about God!
Posted on October 26, 2012, in Kids, Life, News and tagged abortion, atheist, fetus, god, incest, joe biden, paul ryan, prayer, pregancy, rape, religion, republican, richard mourdock. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.