For low-income women and women of color, the prognosis is more grim. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. And Texas now has the highest maternal mortality rate in the "developed" world, according to a report in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.I agree that pro-life should include women, too, since the right to be one is unequally distributed.
Updated 10:54 pm, Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Being a white, educated, middle-class woman has shielded me as devastating anti-abortion laws have shut down women's health clinics across the state. Today, 95 percent of the state's counties do not have an abortion provider. But this newest law may directly affect me: My husband and I are considering having a second child, but at nearly 40, I am at a risky "advanced maternal age." Heaven forbid I encounter complications because pro-life politicians might prefer I die than terminate a pregnancy.
For low-income women and women of color, the prognosis is more grim. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. And Texas now has the highest maternal mortality rate in the "developed" world, according to a report in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
These latest developments in Texas have reinforced the astonishing barriers American women face in determining their own reproductive freedom. Since the start of 2017, state legislatures across the country have already passed more than 50 abortion restrictions, including waiting periods and mandatory counseling designed to dissuade women from having an abortion. West Virginia and Mississippi have already banned the dilation and evacuation procedure, and similar bans are pending in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Alabama against heavy legal opposition.
As a former Southern Baptist, I know firsthand what it means to be devoutly pro-life, but experience has taught me that abortion is a much more complex issue than often portrayed. The basic limitation of the self-described pro-life movement is that it attempts to confront the moral complexity of real life with a rigidly simple set of commandments. I can sympathize with this approach; it is a survival instinct. But it threatens our capacity to experience the abundant life that Jesus promised by holding women's lives captive to the dictates of public officials. Parenthood inevitably involves sacrifices.
I am not trying to persuade anyone to terminate a pregnancy. I am saying that women's lives matter to God and to their families, and they ought to matter to politicians. So long as we only define life as the protection of a fetus, we have dangerously oversimplified the issue. Only when we can affirm that a mother's life need not end for a child's life to begin, only then can we truly call ourselves pro-life.
Fulbright is founder and director of Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the advisory board for Just Texas: Faith Voices for Reproductive Justice.