I made brief remarks (See the WV Public Broadcasting Feed, about 40 minutes in) before the House Judiciary Committee against a bill that would deny legal abortion services as an option for the many West Virginia women who rely on Medicaid. Each speaker had only a minute to make remarks, so I'm sharing my full statement here:
I come here as a mother, grandmother, child abuse prevention specialist and above all as a woman of Faith. As a United Methodist Christian woman, I take seriously my baptismal vow to fight evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves, and to make it my calling to build up women, children, families and the most vulnerable among us.
As Christians we may still respectfully disagree on various issues. I know all of us share a determination to prevent unwanted pregnancies. We share compassion for every human life.
Where I differ with the supporters of this bill, is on the balance between mercy and judgment. I believe House Bill 4012 does not represent a faith-driven response to a social crisis, but exercises wishful, magical thinking about its solution.
We all wish for the best possible that every child conceived will not only be wanted but that every pregnant woman will be healthy, informed and prepared to deliver that child in the best and safest of circumstances.
It is wishful thinking to assume this is always the case. It is misguided, magical thinking to believe that we will achieve these outcomes by punitive measures: restricting options, punishing doctors, and forcing poor women in medical distress to risk their very lives, or wind up poorer and more desperate in the attempt to end a dangerous pregnancy.
House Bill 4012 will not achieve the positive outcomes you wish for.
In a legislature dominated by male representatives, who will never be in the shoes of those you would imperil and endanger through this bill, what insight can you have to put this forth as a feasible solution? Does this bill empower poor women and girls by offering education, contraception, gynecological wellness, protection from the men who would sexually violate them? No. It only restricts doctors’ ability to provide legal reproductive care, exacerbates desperation, and further endangers human lives through botched do-it-herself attempts to end pregnancy, life-threatening gestational complications that go unchecked, miscarriages that turn a woman's body into a financial or legal crime scene, even fewer women’s health providers available to serve our communities, and worse. These are the unintended consequences of perhaps well meaning but misguided and ultimately unkind bills that are enacted in the name of “Life.”
As taxpayers, we may want to eliminate the expenditures that we find immoral or objectionable. For example, as a peace-loving citzen, I abhor the escalation of government funded bombs and weapons systems that often destroy innocent human life. But I readily accept that we train and then put our trust in military experts to be prepared to act in situations where there are no good options, to prevent even worse outcomes. Then we do what we can as a society to prevent these bad outcomes. Instead of this Legislative body putting itself in the position of micromanaging and tying the hands of medical professionals serving poor women and families, why not focus on solutions that actually prevent worse outcomes - increasing access to birth control, women’s well-visits and vital safety net resources, and fully taking on the opioid crisis?
As a Christian woman who chooses human mercy and compassion over human judgment, and prevention and support over wishful, magical, and frankly male-dominated dogma, I ask you to prayerfully consider the consequences you would unleash through the passage of this punitive, unjust and oppressive bill.
Raising our voices
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