It Was Never About God
Earlier this year, the remnants of a wanted pregnancy left my body. It was a lengthy and brutal miscarriage. It’s a loss I grieve, yet I wholeheartedly trust the wisdom of my body — something was wrong, so it didn’t take.
For most of our history, humans capable of pregnancy, and the wise women and healers who cared for them, considered miscarriage, menstruation, and abortion one and the same. Herbs and tinctures were given with care to support those struggling to grow a family and those who, for whatever reason, needed to end a pregnancy.
Jia Tolentino shares in a thorough New Yorker article: “Ancient records of abortifacient medicine are plentiful; ancient attempts to regulate abortion are rare. What regulations existed reflect concern with women’s behavior, not with fetal life. The early Christian Church opposed abortion not as an act of murder but because of its association with sexual sin. The Bible offers ambiguous guidance on the question of when life begins: Genesis 2:7 arguably implies that it begins at first breath; Exodus 12:22-24 suggests that, in Old Testament law, a fetus was not considered a person.”
It wasn’t until the Black Death wiped out much of the population and the first slave ships sailed with human cargo that the church and state began to wage deliberate campaigns to force women to give birth.
The beliefs some people hold about fetal personhood did not arise from faith. Its roots lie in the desire to repopulate the human race after a plague, alongside the same dehumanization that made slavery palatable.
The issues we face today with the overturning of Roe vs. Wade are complex, yet for those who were taught life begins at conception, it’s so simplistic: They were spoon-fed a belief that undermined bodily autonomy, inflicting a level of control that has spanned centuries. God had nothing to do with it.
Those who are able to reproduce know what’s best for themselves. Rather than continue to exert such twisted and dehumanizing control, let’s trust women and their families to make their own decisions.
LTE published in the Blue Mountain Eagle on August 4th, 2022.