This is an opinion post about abortion, Roe vs. Wade, disability and choice. Click the player below to hear me read this.
When I was 13, I wrote a report in my Catholic school about abortion. I think it was part of a debate, and of course I was arguing against abortion. I had seen the photos of aborted fetuses; I was completely against it. I remained staunchly against abortion, sitting on that side of the seesaw until what I saw going out in the world – which was sitting on the other side of the seesaw – began to outweigh my side.
Racial oppression. Ignorance, rampant ignorance. Poverty. Generational trauma. The entire American healthcare system and the entire educational system. The government that is fundamentally about supporting corporations and capitalist profit over everything.
And then I became pregnant, and I absolutely knew that no woman should have a baby that she does not want. There is too much at stake for everyone’s lives when a woman has a baby. Her own life. Her baby’s life – coming into the world is hard enough when you are WANTED; coming in when you are not, and with a mother who does not have the resources to support you and a healthcare and social structure system that won’t either is a tragedy in the making.
Added to that, no person has the right over another’s body. Full stop.
From the spiritual perspective, I do believe that the soul is attached to the baby at conception, and that the fetus is a person. I could tell the difference between all my kids as they were growing in me – they were all unique individuals from the start. To think, as some people do, that all the sudden infants become people at birth is kind of funny to me. I’ve always seen in-utero growth as a reflection of what happened with humanity; that we sometimes looked like other things (- aliens, fish, monkeys), but we were always HUMAN; it was simply an evolutionary process.
I also believe that the soul is eternal. I believe that death is simply a transition to another state of consciousness and being. So, if the physical form of a fetus is terminated, the soul still exists. No real harm could ever truly happen with that individual, because the essential part of who we all really are is immutable, everlasting.
I also believe that choice is another spiritual core truth. God – the Universe, Love, All That Is, Source – has always given us choice. That’s what this whole life is about, I think, it’s about the choices we make, it’s about the directions we turn, it’s about who we become in this temporal plane. This physical reality molds our spirit.
To be honest, terminating a pregnancy makes me sad in my heart. I don’t consider it as a casual solution, or a form of birth control. I know some people do though. But that is THEIR CHOICE. That is THEIR BODY. They get to make that decision for themselves. With so much that is imbalanced in our culture and our country, I feel that to deny them of their right to choose is a criminal act.
It’s not like they have ready access to free birth control. Or that the education system has taught children well, and they respect each other’s bodies and freedoms. It’s not like there is wholesome food on the table, that families and communities are supportive, that healthcare is free and available for all. It’s not like people are living without fear. It’s not like existences are not being scraped out, one dime after a nickel, with so many feeling the crushing stress and anxiety of deep and limiting poverty. It’s not like they understand what disability really is or have an effective support system to help. It’s not like we’re living in the Star Trek Federation, is what I’m saying. But even if we were, that is still their choice to make.
So yes, I believe that abortion is killing a baby. There is a sadness in my heart over it. In the vast space of the universe and God and Love and All That Is, I know that that baby’s soul is fine, and nothing changed with the elimination of their body.
But choice is essential. A woman needs to have the ability to choose what is right for her.
God has always given us choice, has never limited us, no matter how messed up, foolish or horrific our choices have been. God even makes it so that the consequences of our choices draw us closer or further from God – which is heaven/hell, essentially – conditions of the spirit, not physical places. We have consequences of our choices, but all of that is between us and God and never between us and the US Supreme Court. Nor is it between us and anyone else, for that matter.
I know in so many ways it would seem like I should be happy for Roe vs. Wade being overturned. I mean, I do believe that fetuses are people. I am deaf and neurodiverse – I know fetus are aborted if they are found to have a deaf gene. My kids are neurodiverse, and I was strongly encouraged by doctors to terminate my daughter with Down syndrome after we had an amniocentesis. I made the choice to keep her, and since I decided to keep my baby with Down syndrome, shouldn’t I want everyone to make the same choice as me?!
The thing is though, I know that the root cause of many women’s choices to abort a child with a disability is fear, prejudice, and a lack of systemic or emotional support. If you remove the fear and prejudice through education and you add the systemic and emotional support, you remove the desire to abort. In doing so, you also create mothers who are capable of raising brilliant people.
That’s really where I want us to go. I want fear, ignorance, and prejudice to be wiped out. I want our social structures to be so solid and supportive that abortion won’t be the best option.
It’s like driving in Tokyo: the public transit system there is so supportive and structured that your needs are met without a car. Sure, you can still have a car if you want, but why would you want one? Having a car in Tokyo doesn’t make a lot of sense. That’s where I’d love to see us go as a culture, as a society: to where having an abortion doesn’t make a lot of sense, but you can have one if you choose.
But that choice should always be there. And it’s towards that end that I am getting ready to fight.
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Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.