Choose Life

There is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while but wasn’t ready to blog about until I read, on The New York Times online, about the guy who murdered an abortion doctor and claimed in his defense that he was justified because he opposed abortion.

Over the years I’ve mostly stayed out of the pro-life/pro-choice hysteria and debates. I know from personal experience just how complicated and personal the whole thing is, because 27 years ago I chose life.

I was unmarried, and, in fact, uninterested in marriage, when I got pregnant at 19. The obvious choice would have been to have an abortion. I weighed my options. I searched my soul. My mother and sisters wanted me to have an abortion. Society at that time was still embarrassed by a young, white woman pregnant out of wedlock (this was before Murphy Brown!). But something inside of me made me shudder at the thought of ending a little life. My “religion” believes that everything happens for a reason and it’s our challenge to face it. I am no longer a Christian. But I believe in God. I believe in a God who opposes ALL KILLING of people. I believe all people should have a choice, and in making the right personal choice, we take one more step closer to God—or evolutionary success—whatever you choose to call it. It’s your choice!

I had my daughter. And together we stumbled through life. I never once regretted my choice because I made it myself, from my own heart. Together, she and I have explored our shared history as women (in our book, It’s My Pleasure), and discovered just how the lack of choice for women over the centuries has bound us, KILLED us, and kept us from living full lives and reaching our maximum potential. The stories of men and their idiotic ideas about women—such as, oh, the wandering womb, and the belief that we’re incapable of doing anything ourselves other than looking pretty and lifting our skirts for them…and breeding, and dying from giving birth. Women were disposable frigging and breeding machines for most of history.

The older I get and the more I watch the polarized debates, the more my thinking evolves, and here is where I stand today:

IF your belief is pro-life, then you MUST be opposed to all killing of humans. You must be antiwar. You must be against the death penalty. You must be against domestic violence. You must be against murder of any kind. You are either pro-life or you aren’t, in my opinion. After all, how can you measure the value of an unborn child against that of a child, woman, or man? In this respect, I am pro-life.

IF your belief is pro-choice, then you must respect all choices, and work vigilantly toward respecting all life and helping woman and men HAVE choices, which in many countries around the world don’t exist. In this respect, I am pro-choice.

I think of my view as a common ground. How about a Choose Life movement? I am pro-life in that I don’t believe in killing, either in war or in reproduction. But I am so very, very grateful that I could make that choice myself, so therefore, I am also pro-choice. I am not a conservative. I am not a Republican. I am not a Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim; I don’t have a name for what I am.

Isn’t the ultimate goal that we create a world where all people are educated and empowered and rewarded to make the choices that respect life? Even the early proabortionists were “against abortion,” but they saw their sisters, daughters, friends, and neighbors die from back-alley abortions because they were ashamed, afraid, or too poor to bring a child into the world. Young girls who were impregnated by male relatives or worse, the clergy, were sent away and had their children wrenched from them. How is any of that good?

Shouldn’t we be educating our daughters on the function of their sexuality so they are protected from unwanted pregnancy, but also from sexually transmitted diseases? Shouldn’t we be reaching out and helping the women among us who need our assistance and help?

By polarizing the debate into uncompromising positions, we have lost another whole generation of girls to the ambiguous, unwinnable war of ideals that has no resolution. Fortunately, that guy who shot the doctor was found guilty. It didn’t take the jury long to come to a decision.

I made my decision. I choose life. But I long for the day when all women around the world have the right to marry for love, the knowledge and empowerment to protect their bodies from unwanted conception, and the safety and wisdom to bring all children into the world with love and acceptance.

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26 Responses to Choose Life

  1. barbarellakw February 3, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  2. Tree Hugger February 3, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Well said. A voice of sanity in this crazy chaotic world.

  3. lis February 3, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    Beautifully stated

  4. Heather February 3, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    Excellent! I am so tired of being put into categories like liberal because I said whatever and therefore must believe all of the liberal generalisms. No. I am prochoice, too, as in allowing people to become educated so they feel able to make informed decisions for themselves and not be told what they can and can’t do because someone else has already decided for them.

  5. Linda February 3, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    I think you need to think out your ideals a little more. If we are all to be against killing of any kind then let’s just lay down and let the terrorist run over us. There is a use for killing to protect the population in general. Not killing fetuses, that is a personal choice. Maybe not even capital punishment. But if we as a nation are under attack, I will fight until death our right to be here. War is sometimes necessesary. Look to the past to see the future.

  6. Juleen February 3, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    Amen Maria! I have three daughters, all with very different ideas on abortion and killing of ANY kind. I praise and admire their individuality and will fight to the death for their choices and rights.

  7. Leah February 3, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    Amen! Amen! AMEN!

  8. Inge February 3, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Thank you, Maria for articulating this so eloquently. I would fight for the right to choose for oneself and have a safe procedure available. And yet, when faced with the situation in my own family, I have acted to prevent the abortion. Contradictory? Not really. But try and explain it? In the future I will point to your blog.

  9. Amanda February 3, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    Yes, yes, YES! You speak my heart with passion, with pain, and most of all with love. Thank you, Maria.

  10. Tony February 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    @Linda I don’t think Maria is necessarily suggesting that there is no such thing as unjustified violence, more that if one is to put forward a pro-life position, then that position should be morally consistent with the other tenets of one’s ideology.

    For instance, there is a strangely high correlation between people who strongly oppose the abortion because we don’t have the right to take a life that god gave and those who strongly support the death penalty because it’s alright for the state to take a life that god gave.

    Moreover, to start talking about whether those considered for the death penalty are deserving of death vs innocent foetuses means you are getting into a tricky situation where you’ve moved from a simple ‘all life is precious’ statement to a ‘I decide who should lives and who die based upon my current opinion of worthiness’ which is a really dangerous road to travel.

    It’s not that Maria’s ideals are in need of more thought, it’s more that going into it in the detail it would need to display all the possible nuance is a book (or a library of books) not a blog post.

  11. Donna in Delaware February 3, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    TONY is right. It’s a tricky situation. Maria is also right. One person doesn’t necessarily have to be wrong for the other to be right. It is a subject that requires a deep balance of thought and much consideration, as we know all too well because of the years spent debating the issue.

    There are too many opinions on the subject, and it will never be resolved to everyone’s liking, and that is the sad truth of the matter. Nevertheless, we each should have control and say over our own bodies, without someone other than our significant other or parent(s) weighing in on our decision making process. Lawmakers, do-gooders and religious fanatics should leave well enough alone. It is totally up to the person(s) involved and their maker. Leave it to Him to judge.
    I am also happy that the shooter was convicted. He should never see the light of day again. Let him enjoy what is left of his life behind bars.

  12. Rebeca February 3, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    I believe in the God of the Bible and am also a Pro-life believer. It’s rather hypocritical of many who believe different than I, to be intolerance of MY beliefs just because they are from the Bible. Please read and understand: I am not discussing the hypocrisy in different religions. What I am saying is that many have forgetten about all the others who believe in saving the innocent who are NOT murderers themselves. The stereotyping and intolerance of those who have the same and full right to believe in this God, my God, and to be pro-life, by those who believe different has gotten way out of control. The bible does teach against “murder” and the “killing” of another person (life). However, it also says that a person has a right to defend themself against someone trying to kill them. The military is about self-defense. I’m not going to discuss the wars and the decisions by various US leaders, here. It isn’t appropriate. I see that Maria is an “all or nothing” person with the kind of reasoning that is openly critized by those who are “anti-life.” Mostly, I am very sad that she no longer follows the teachings of Jesus of the Bible. There is so much love there. Yes, He is all about purest love and life. He would love to have you back in His life. He says so…in the Bible.

  13. Tina February 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    I like how Maria has worded her beliefs. Personally, I do not think the contradiction between being against abortion yet for capital punishment is as strong as she states. With capital punishment, someone who has been found guilty of a heinous crime is put to death. But when it comes to abortion, what crime has the unborn child committed? That being said, I don’t think that capital punishment is an absolute necessity. I believe that some crimes do warrant the death penalty, but I certainly am ok with the ethical decision to have alternative punishments.

    One thing I would like to point out: All too often a woman who finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy thinks she has only 2 options: abortion or raising the child on her own. But there is a third choice: consider adoption. Especially if you do not have a strong and long lasting support network, please consider placing the baby for adoption.

  14. Tony February 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    It’s not that we with other beliefs are intolerant, it’s just that using the Bible as a source book for morality is a tricky, confusing process so open to interpretation that taking a strong position based upon it is fraught with peril.

    Do we use the Jesus of Mark, which as the only gospel written within the lifetime of those who might have known Jesus (approximately 40 years after his death) is likely to be the most accurate. Bear in mind in this gospel, Jesus is an Isaiah-style apocalyptic preacher derided for his inability to perform miracles who calls a women from Samaria ‘a dog’ because she is not an Israelite. This Jesus only mentions love three times in the whole gospel, and that love is fairly clearly only supposed to be at most at the tribal level.

    Or do we use the Jesus of John, a gospel written long after St. Paul had lived and died and more than a hundred years apart from anyone who knew Jesus, in which Jesus is a far more mystical magical person full of love. A very different and possibly better Jesus for us to worship maybe but also likely bearing little relation to the man himself.

    This is the problem people like myself have with using the Bible as a moral source book. There are so many challenged interpretations (in fact there are more recorded different versions of the Bible than there are words in the Bible) and it is such a melange of different thinking from different periods depending on the local and cultural events of the time that giving credence to one point of view based on the bible also directly gives credence to other more unsavoury views that rely on the exact same source material. That is why, we would rather rely on reason and enlightenment than scripture when trying to make such difficult decisions

  15. Mimi February 3, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    I made the same choice 37 years ago, Maria, when I was 16. I didn’t legally have an option to choose abortion but I wouldn’t have chosen that if I had had the choice. As a matter of fact, in the period of time between when I made the choice and our son was born, Roe v. Wade happened and women were finally able to choose something besides that back alley abortion that my Dad proposed. I am an aetheist, a liberal, a Democrat, and very much pro-choice. But that doesn’t mean that I think abortion is EVER an easy choice to make, only that it should be an option available to all women – an option that is private, personal, not condemned by others, and an option certainly not decided for me by a group of vocal (and sometimes violent) demonstrators. And by the way, that kid is now a happy 37 year old attorney, husband and daddy.

  16. Patty February 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    Love the post Maria! You, like all of us are spirtual beings having a human experience. God lives within each of us rather than “up there” highlighting our dual man/spirit nature.

  17. Rhonda February 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

    Maria – great writing. We’d love to have you as a guest contributor on our site We have a daily section called High Heels, written by women for women. Interested? Thanks for another well-written post.

  18. nancy m February 3, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    I appreciate all the above blogs….however, another issue for me is the man’s defense that “claimed in his defense that he was justified because he opposed abortion”, which would mean that we can all do whatever we want based on our own belief system, including murder. This, I think, was largely the basis for the jury finding him guilty in such a short time, since the abortion/prolife debate is never an easy one. It is never easily defined nor aggreed upon.

  19. Jennifer February 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Maria, I have one question for you. How do you reconcile your “pro-life” views with the fact that overpopulation of humans is killing off so many other species of life? I am pro-choice, but when I see a woman who has an unwanted pregnancy, I like to have her examine the point of view that if she does not want that baby, well the earth really doesn’t want it either. From the Earth’s point of view there are too many of us and just by living our lives, we are killing off her other creatures. Your “pro-life” decision is really just a pro-Human life decision. It is not a decision that benefits all life. Human overpopulation reduces the diversity and resilience of all life on earth and so we end up degrading the earth. Ultimately, when we look into the future, if we don’t do more to curb human overpopulation and stop the degradation of the earth’s ecosystems, then we are reducing the number of humans who will be able to inhabit this planet in the future. Sometimes the most Pro-life decision is the decision to abort.

  20. Maria (farm country kitchen) February 3, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    Dear Jennifer and all my wonderful readers,

    I am not “pro-life” I am “Choose-life.” The number one proven factor that will reduce overpopulation on this planet is the education of women.The more a woman is educated, the fewer children she will bear in her lifetime, and the more likely she will be to take care of them. Also, to the bible mentioners — I have read the bible front to back (the English Oxford version — old and new testament) and can safely say that it is rife with contradictions — which is why anyone can find anything to support any argument about anything. I strongly urge everyone to read it in full. It only took me three years!


  21. Maya February 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    As the baby in question in this blog post, I would like to add this: I got to grow up knowing that my mother chose to have me when she had the option of abortion or adoption. I got to grow up knowing I was WANTED. That is a profound, amazing, humbling, lovely and wonderful thing to know. Being my mother’s daughter (in both sense of the phrase) I also CHOOSE LIFE.

  22. Jenn February 5, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    Maria, Maya – thank you.

  23. Donna in Delaware February 8, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    Well said, both of you!

  24. gina February 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    While your post is thoughtful and informed by your own experience, I have two objections. First, you used the term “proabortionist”. Those of us are who are pro-choice are not PRO-abortion. We are pro-contraception, pro-education, and we believe that women should have autonomy in their physical, sexual and medical lives. Access to safe abortion services is but a small part of that. You could say we are pro-access (and thus pro-choice), but “pro-abortionist” is an insulting term often used by the ant-choice side.

    Second, you probably realize that “choose life” is a phrase that has (unfortunately) been co-opted by the “pro-life” movement. Since the primary agenda of that movement is to restrict or remove access to abortion for all women, that phrase really cannot be separated from their agenda. I appreciate that you may have been trying to rehabilitate its meaning, but I don’t think that’s possible at this point. The code is too well-understood: “choose life” = eliminate abortion access.

  25. Sticky August 3, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Mighty useful. Make no mistake, I appreiatce it.

  26. Mark February 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    I’m not sure how I found this blog post…but I’m glad that I did. I was put up for adoption in 1974. Your story reminded me that my birth mother must have been a courageous and extraordinary woman to give me life. Thank you for sharing your story. And thank you Mom…wherever you are. I love you.

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