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Blurring the Lines on War and Abortion

16 April 2013 No Comment

Mary Liepold

Mary Liepold
Editor in Chief 

“Even when my mind is fully made up, I don’t think I’m going to be turning up at either kind of rally.”

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Stereotypes are regrettable. And life is complicated. So most of us simplify our mental lives with pre-made pictures of certain categories of others.

I admit I do. I picture an anti-abortion demonstrator as a young man with short, neatly combed hair and slightly wild eyes, or an older woman with sensible shoes and a tight mouth. I picture pro-abortion demonstrators as college-age women and their pleasantly scruffy boyfriends, plus a good sprinkling of older women who look more or less like me. And I freely admit that these pictures have no basis in fact, because I’ve never been to a demonstration on either side of this issue.

And that’s not because I’m not a demonstrator. I take to the streets quite regularly on other issues, particularly peace and the environment. It’s because I’ve spent 50 years on the fence on this particular issue. As a cradle Catholic, I have both a deep-seated conviction that life belongs to God and a chronic irritation at the way well-provided-for, celibate males impose rules on women whose lives they know next to nothing about. I see the big, ancient, ugly picture of patriarchy and the damage it does and has done worldwide through the centuries, and I know it has to end. And I know that my own life as a white, comfortable, older American proceeds at a distance from the challenges of younger and possibly poorer women. Does my judgment on this issue even matter?

My children know I love peace, but I didn’t offer them much else in the way of orthodoxies. I know how necessary it is for young people to push against rigid rules. These days I’m also seeing how easy it is for even self-proclaimed radicals like me to get comfortable with the liberal orthodoxy of Anything Goes―and how hard it can be for kids to sort out their own values with nothing to push against.

Most military professionals profess to love peace. They will happily lay down their arms just as soon as the world runs out of tyrants. Violent revolutionaries will lay theirs down when the oppressors do, or even when a particular oppressor ceases to oppress. But my God says “Thou shalt not kill,” so the justifications don’t hold water for me. And waiting for abortion, or suicide, or euthanasia to end when misery ends isn’t much of a plan either.

Let me be clear: I have less than no interest in outlawing abortion. Still, if I believe that life belongs to God―and I do―I’m starting to wonder if I have to oppose all forms of killing. I’m wondering if I can find a way to do that with kindness and out of love; to get off the fence without becoming the tight-lipped stereotype I deplore. Even when my mind is fully made up, I don’t think I’m going to be turning up at either kind of rally. I don’t see a war on women OR a war on babies out there that reaches the same level as the routine, state-sanctioned murder of children, women, and men in armed conflict. I’m just sorta wondering. Is anyone else?

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Another woman’s perspective - Life, Conception, and Choice: what I believe

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