Blessing choice

Dear President Trump,

Some days I know exactly what I want to write to you about because something’s been nagging at me or I think I have an especially good angle on an issue that I’ve not seen expressed. Those letters are usually the easiest to write even though the personal stakes tend to be high since I want to get them just right. Other days, like yesterday, it’s more of an “I got nothin’” situation and I have to fish around until I feel a nibble that I can make myself go with. Then there are days, like today, when I have a nascent idea I could pursue, but in the course of the morning news peruse I come across something so compelling I know it’s the thing that needs to be brought forward.

This morning that thing is an article in the HP entitled “Interfaith Clergy Gather to Bless Texas Abortion Clinic and Its Staff.” The headline sums up the story well and there’s not much need to flesh out the details (though there are a couple of gems I’ll tell you about before I close). Rather it’s the unspoken parts that haunt me. Chief among them is the physical and emotional risk those clergy members took on. The reality of online trolls and rabid “right to life” people using intimidation tactics, or worse, is scary as hell and looms over the whole thing like a menacing storm cloud.

Then there’s the challenging issue that so much of the patriarchy’s systemic dominion over women’s bodies and lives is fueled by religious dogma. Against this backdrop, what does it really mean to have some clergy trying to tip things in the other direction? I think it’s a real question whether any meaningful repair can take place in this larger context where both sides claim THE moral high road as though there is some real arbiter weighing this stuff rather than a concept we humans invented and have been using to further various agendas over the millennia, some mostly punitive, fear-based, and controlling and some mostly loving, comforting, and controlling.

And yet and still – because women and their medical providers currently exist in a cultural system that is steeped in typically harsh, judgmental religious dogma, there could be some good that comes from these nine clergy doing what they did and the HP reporting on it. They stood up to the Texas religious right by blessing an abortion clinic, the providers who work there, and the women who seek care there. They prayerfully walked through the clinic as though they were one of those women and one of them shared:

“As people of faith, it’s not that we think we’re bringing God to this place; we believe God is already present in that space. But it’s to ask for prayers of safety, healing and peace, to infuse the space with an energy that is life-giving for women, a lot of whom are in an anxious time.”

This could be a critically important message for many women (and their loved ones) to hear, especially in a state where the decision to end an unwanted pregnancy is so contested and freighted with fire and brimstone messaging.

And, you might ask (well, not really you), what about the fetuses, the would-be infants, whose existence will be ended by abortions? Where’s the love for them? Personally, I believe it’s a radically loving act to choose not to bring a child into the world when one is not in an ok position to do so fully committed to that child, whether to raise oneself or for someone else to raise. Intentional, committed parenting is bound to lead to healthier children and healthier children make healthier adults and healthier adults make healthier societies – choice regarding one’s reproductive life is critical to this equation working out correctly.

May we all be safe to make choices that are right for ourselves and our families.
May we be willing to accept that choice means we will not agree at least some of the time.
May we resolve to create conditions that support intentional, committed parenting.
May those who need to make peace with women’s autonomy, do so.

Tracy Simpson

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