One of us is“Pro-Choice,” the other is“Pro-Life.” We’re both Anti-Trump.
A collaboration between Jenn Abel and Susan Bordo
One of us is “pro-choice” and Jewish. One of us is a “pro-life” Christian. We put these labels in scare quotes because we believe it’s time to get beyond labels and move forward on our common humanity. Branding others is Trump territory. We refuse to go there. And we refuse to let our differences blind us to our shared commitment to defeating Donald Trump — a man who violates both of our traditions. Bill Clinton recently said, of Ruth Bader Ginsberg: “She was not a woman to be labelled.” She was clearly not a woman to label others, either. Following her example, we have looked beyond each other’s labels and discovered that despite the political rhetoric that would thrust us on opposing sides of a divide, we share a great deal.
Jenn, speaking passionately from her Christian values, is distressed that somewhere along the line, political masterminds decided that evangelical Christians could be manipulated into believing abortion and gay marriage are the only two things God cares about. She reminds us that the Bible has far more to say about pride, about abusing power to mistreat the poor, about lying, about treating others with hatred, about humility, about seeking forgiveness, about faithfulness — about ALL of that than it does about abortion. That so many Christians are willing to turn a blind eye to behaviors that are completely, blatantly in opposition to the heart and character of Christ astounds her. Jenn is disillusioned and heartbroken to see so many Christians abandon their morals and contort their beliefs in order to justify their support of someone who so obviously violates every moral and value they were taught in the Church.
For Susan, guided by the Judaic value on justice, being opposed to the government regulation of women’s reproductive choices does not mean being “pro-abortion.” Nor does respecting women’s choices mean devaluing the life of the fetus. It means affirming that just as we don’t regulate men’s reproductive lives, neither should we regulate women’s. To believe otherwise is to promote a deeply patronizing agenda, one that tries to persuade women to ignore the wisdom of their own hearts and minds to trust a government still run largely by men who have never, and will never, experience pregnancy. Those men would cringe at the thought of control over their reproductive lives being in the hands of the government, and — surprise! — have never enacted such laws.
Susan argues that the very term “pro-abortion” is an insult to women, particularly to women who have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy in emotional pain and with deep sorrow. Along with Jenn, she is dedicated to creating a world in which abortions would be rare, because women and children’s health, both physical and economic would be a priority. That would be a world more consistently “pro-life” than imagined by those politicians whose concerns about life stop at the moment of birth, who don’t seem to care nearly as much about the welfare of the children we bring into the world. To be “pro-life” and not to support affordable health care for all, for example, is a contradiction in terms. Yet the same administration that is counting on the votes of pro-lifers is dedicated to abolishing the Affordable Care Act shortly after the election, when the Supreme Court will meet to decide on its fate.
Both Susan and Jenn remind us that between 1981 and 2016, the sharpest decline in abortion rates occurred under Democratic Presidents — not under Republican Presidents. The rates especially dropped under the leadership of President Obama and continued to decline after he left office. Most everyone agrees the reason for this is because access to contraception is key in preventing pregnancies. And under the Affordable Care Act, contraception coverage became more widespread. Even though some states enacted new abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2017, by 2017 57% of the nationwide decline occurred in states that had not enacted new abortion restrictions.
We both want to live in a society that values all life. Immigrants’ lives. Women’s lives. Black lives. Lives suffering in poverty. The lives of people who disagree with the party in power. The lives of those who have contracted COVID-19. Donald Trump is now one of them; luckily for him, finances are not an issue in his (elaborate and experimental) medical care. For others, having experienced COVID-19 may soon become a “pre-existing condition” that is not covered by insurance — if Trump has his way.