I Prayed About It, And I’m Still Pro-Choice

This beautifully written post was written by Leah Vanden Bosch. Leah was recently called to action from a proposed bill, HF 2163, that would ban abortions past the detection of a fetal heartbeat in the state of Iowa. Her perspective comes multi-faceted and we have much to gain by reading it. I encourage you all to see how politics affect the individual. This is more than an argument, it’s a journey, and I hope you will join Leah on it.

I’ve had writer’s block for months, but now my average of 100 words per minute can’t seem to keep up. My thoughts are flooded with ideas throughout the day, constantly scribbled on Post-Its and tacked to my cork board with the dainty, gold Kate Spade pins my former manager gave me. She understands the aesthetic needs of an office cubical space.

Why am I speaking out on something so controversial? Why exactly did I just subject myself to judgement, criticism, assumptions…did I think this through? Believing a woman has the right to choose is easy. Speaking out on believing a woman has the right to choose is a little more hairy. I have been praying for months. I’ve been angry with God. I’ve questioned Him, I have doubted Him – I went so far as to spend time away from Him. He always finds a way to bring me back. He put the right people in my life, He opened my mind to better understand my anguish, and He softened my heart to help me recognize my purpose. Through years of struggle, I have cried out to Him, asking why, over and over again. I now know why He asked me to walk through every heartbreak in my story.

For those questioning my beliefs or filling my news feed with articles praising another de-funded Planned Parenthood, please, take a moment to consider all viewpoints. Open your heart and try to understand another’s life experience. Religious conviction is primarily driving the pro-life argument – consider the full context of the Bible and what it says concerning abortion. The pro-life argument is flawed.

I’ll dive right into religion – not exactly where every pro-choice explanation starts. I grew up in a small, conservative, religious community, where I first heard of Planned Parenthood in my high school chapel, announcing our Knights for Life group would be praying in the parking lot that weekend. Raised in a strictly pro-life culture, I was fed the opposing view point only, but I always knew there would certainly be that option available for me if I ever needed it. I have always believed a woman should have a choice – you just don’t voice that in a small-town community like mine.

So, for those driving their pro-life argument with religious conviction, did you know that the Bible actually has passage with God contradicting your pro-life argument? Have you considered all stances, various interpretations, or only the ones suggesting life begins with conception? I want to remind you, the Bible is open to interpretation. If we read some of these pages literally, we would be living in a very different world. I’ll begin in your favor, with one of the most prominent verses used in pro-life arguments below, Psalm 138:13-16:

“13. For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. 15. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

I sang this at my sister’s baptism when I was eight years old, so I have been able to recite these words since I was at least that young. We were made by God in our mother’s womb. He could see us there, and we were made in secret. He saw us before we were in human form, and our future was planned before we were even created. That is how I’m interpreting this passage.

I’m not seeing anything about life beginning immediately at conception in the way I read that; maybe you are reading it differently. Also, if God knows our future, which I will absolutely agree to, doesn’t He know that these cells/this fetus will get aborted? You can’t deny that. That would then be considered His plan, yes? I would think so. I’m not going to be the one to argue God doesn’t know every, microscopic, insignificant detail and have control over it. I won’t doubt He plans for every millisecond of the future, whether it’s continuing to begin to form into life or being terminated. I’m assuming there are some reading this who want to throw out the “free will” argument right about now, but despite having free will, that doesn’t change the fact that God knows and controls. He plans. He knows exactly what we will be doing with our free will.

Let’s go over another verse, one brought up less frequently in the abortion discussion. Exodus 21:22-25 posted below:

“22. And should men quarrel and hit a pregnant woman, and she miscarries but there is no fatality, he shall surely be punished, when the woman’s husband makes demands of him, and he shall give [restitution] according to the judges’ [orders]. 23. But if there is a fatality, you shall give a life for a life, 24. an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot. 25. a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.”

Now, this is interesting. “Should a man fight and hit a pregnant woman, and she miscarries but there is no fatality”…there is no death. The fetus, cells, whatever it is at that point, does not survive, but God is saying there is no death. The man’s punishment would be a slap on the wrist, having to hand over property. If there is a fatality, if the woman dies, then you’re giving the life for a life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, ect. We all know that verse – we’ve referenced that time and time again, but we tend to fail to mention the passage leading into it.

Your religious argument doesn’t stand with me. There is no hard evidence in the Bible that states life begins at conception. You can start your research now – you won’t find it. What you will find in the Bible are endless passages instructing us on how to treat one another – passages concerning judgement, compassion, understanding, mercy, grace, and love. One of my favorites, Matthew 7:1-5, posted below:

“1. Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2. For in these are way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4. How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5. You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

This passage has nothing to do with abortion specifically, but it has everything to do with the pro-life argument. You are judging the storm that God has asked this woman to walk through. You are judging the decisions she is making, regarding her own life, to make it through this experience. This decision has nothing to do with you. This is between the woman and God. If you don’t believe in abortion – don’t have one. It is not your place to make that decision for another.

If you’ve followed any of my story over the last decade, you are well aware of my struggle with an eating disorder, depression, and anxiety. There is a profound, legitimate mental health argument I’m bringing to the table. There are reasons why a woman needs to terminate a pregnancy. There is rape, incest, horrific, grotesque experiences that will scar this woman for the rest of her life – the last thing we need to do is traumatize her with having to carry out a pregnancy she did not ask for. I think we’re all aware of how life changing it is to bring a baby into this world – you really think it’s appropriate to have someone making that decision for a woman? You don’t think that could potentially traumatize the woman? Enough to make her want to throw herself off of a ledge – literally? I would certainly assume so.

I have heard a lot of stories through my years of treatment. You may be considering a teenage girl selfishly walking into a Planned Parenthood for your pro-life argument. I have heard the story of a girl who was raped by her uncle when she was 14 and had to decide what to do when she found out she was pregnant. Would you want to try to explain your pro-life argument to her?

You are only considering the potential life of the fetus beginning to form inside of the woman – you are notconsidering the life of the woman. There are valid, understandable reasons women need to be able to choose, and it is absolutely none of the government’s business as to what she decides. They are inserting themselves into her healthcare plan. They have no idea what is best for a specific woman’s needs. I have years and years of medical records they are oblivious to. The idea of someone thinking they have the authority to make those decisions and change my life so severely is appalling and offensive.

Being pro-choice does not mean I’m promoting abortion. Depending on the woman and the situation, it can be an incredibly difficult, painful, shattering life experience. It may be tragic for a woman to go through, and they need to be supported, not shamed. Do you think a woman doesn’t suffer when she has an abortion? Do you think it’s a simple, selfish decision, just to avoid the inconvenience of a baby? You are so, horribly wrong. This decision is personal, and every woman has a different story with different reasons for doing what she did. This decision is none of your business.

Continuing to consider severe reproduction restrictions is taking us in the wrong direction. There will be some women who may not even realize they’re pregnant and already be past the point of a legal abortion. It is oppressive, and it is taking us backwards. It will not stop women from having abortions, it will force them to have unsafe abortions.

I am speaking for one third of women in this country – think about that number. One in every three. The decision a woman has to make, the consequences of those decisions, the cross she has to decide on carrying for the rest of her life, whether it be a child she didn’t plan for or the one she has had to let go of – that is none of your business. The government does not get to decide. They don’t get to force a woman, her body, to go through something she does not want to go through.

Open your hearts and consider what God asks in how we treat one another. Stop shaming these women. Stop judging them for this horrific decision they had to make, and stop thinking you can control their lives. Everyone’s experiences are different, they are personal, and I can’t believe I have to get into something so intimate just to defend a right I currently have. This is getting out of hand. Someone needs to say something.

You can learn more about and track the progress of the proposed bill here. The bill has now passed onto the U.S. Senate for approval. Please call your senators if you would like to influence the decision. Stand up for what you believe in. Stand up for those who may not be able to.
You can find more of Leah on her facebook and instagram. If you need a quick break from the action, check out her dog’s instagram, because we all need beautiful pictures of dogs in our lives.

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