Last night, as I listened to the testimony of Texans who showed up to speak both for and against HB2, the abortion legislation of which by now I’m sure you’ve heard, I noticed a pattern. Those who argued against the restrictions brought up scientific and medical facts and information. Meanwhile, those in favor of the legislation mostly shared very personal stories and overwhelming emotions about their own choices.
The fact that they were talking about their own choices seemed to be lost on them.
One theme that continuously surfaced was that of the woman who regrets her abortion. When a woman shares that she regrets her abortion, I feel genuine compassion for her. Who among us doesn’t know the sting of regret? I know what it is to regret a decision, and that pain can be intense. I don’t want to mock her testimony or her feelings. However, her regrets over her own life choices have nothing to do with whether or not a piece of legislation should pass. If the government exists to protect me from regret, then we need laws against my saying certain kinds of things because it’s my mouth that most often leaves me feeling regret. I’m sure we can all see the problem with the logic behind such laws, and that same logic applies to the regret standard that some try to apply to abortion legislation. Your regrets are not the governments business.
This argument in particular stuck out to me because I used to kind of believe it. I’ve never been opposed to abortion because of strong religious conviction. While I’m a Christian, I don’t feel that my spiritual beliefs have much to do with this type of legislation. No. I used to say that “abortion isn’t even necessarily good for women” because “most women don’t feel good about having abortions.” We all have things we said in our youth that cause us to shake our own heads in shame years later, and I can’t believe I ever thought that women needed to be protected from their own choices by their government. Put that way, it makes me shudder.
Luckily, I’ve learned from my own experiences.
I’ve learned that a woman can have an abortion and experience no regrets – and that this doesn’t make her a “bad person.” I’ve learned that a woman can have an abortion, feel regrets, but still believe she ultimately made the right choice. I’ve learned that people’s lessons are myriad and complicated and we’re here to learn, not to experience pain-free lives. In fact, I’ve learned that “pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth,” and I’ve learned to be grateful for my own pain because it’s my greatest teacher. And I’ve learned that I don’t get to rob others of the chance to make their own choices because it is those choices that lead them to their own ultimate destinies.
There’s a lot of God in all of that for me.
If a woman who regrets her abortion wants me to sit and weep with her, I will gladly do so. I’m not blind or deaf to her pain. But I also cannot support the idea that her pain is proof that women need to be “protected” from their own choices.
In the end, I have enough faith in both women and my God to know believe that they don't need me or anyone else to be in charge.