Well, it’s been too many months since I attended to this blog. The spring gets crazy on the farm, and riding takes precedence over writing often when the weather gets good. But now….something is happening in my beloved funky tolerant Albuquerque that it drives me to communicate, to reach out, to proclaim to the world how deeply disturbed we should all be by these events.
What’s happening? An organization called Voices for Family Values, a “nonprofit, nondenominational” organization that states on its website that its mission “. . . is to promote Biblical worldview. . . ” is organizing a drive to pass a 20+ week abortion ban in the city of Albuquerque by a ballot initiative. They need 15,000 signatures to get this on the ballot. They are hoping to pass a city ordinance in order to do an end run around our state legislature, which has consistently refused to limit the rights of New Mexican women to a complete range of therapeutic options for their health care. Since Albuquerque is by far the biggest city in the state, and is the home of the majority of the abortion providers, they think they will thus be able to indirectly end late-term abortion options in New Mexico.
In the meantime, the fundy nut cases are poised to descend upon us. An antiabortion extremist group, the “Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust”, based in California, are planning to come to Albuquerque and launch an assault on our local providers August 5th -10th. These folks are really dangerous. They have been linked to bombings of clinics and murders of providers. I will be standing with the clinics on those days, doing what I can do to keep the patients and their family members or friends safe, as well as the providers. Since their website posts photos of the three women who provide these services at the targeted clinic, I would consider them a direct threat to life and safety.
I am disturbed on so many levels by this kind of cruelty, by “political action” designed to intimidate, threaten, harass, or harm other people who are making choices and taking actions of which these folks disapprove. This particular action has potential to make tragic circumstances far, far worse for a lot of people and families who struggle with making the decision to abort an advanced pregnancy.
Only about 2% of abortions are done after 20 weeks in the US. 88% of abortions are completed in the first trimester. The risk factors for later abortion include Black race, younger age, less education, domestic violence victimization, and life chaos (defined by researchers as having 3 or more severe life events in one year.) Many of these women do not have access to resources of knowledge, information, or money, and that causes a delay in care. And then there are those families who find out in the 5th month that their child is in some way severely defective, some to the point of nonsurvivable flaws. And here in New Mexico, there is another problem: rurality. Women in rural areas must travel to seek this care. It takes time, it takes money, and it takes being absent for a couple of days. For some people. those conditions are very difficult to arrange.
All this is to say, women don’t have later abortions because they want to make their unborn child suffer. Blaming those whose lives already are difficult and frightening because they don’t react quickly to a new problem is ludicrous. It’s unkind. It’s just plain mean. Why not work on providing outreach and services to help women learn about their bodies so they will know how to avoid pregnancy and how to tell when they are pregnant? Why not support women who are in need of pregnancy termination with kindness? They will never forget their decision, or their abortion experience, or their nonborn child, I assure you. Bludgeoning them with barriers such as no health insurance, no local providers, slutshaming judgments hurled without knowledge of the true circumstances, only increases their pain. It’s cruel.
I will be actively working to squelch this law, and to defend these women and their health providers from the forces of allegedly-Christian judgment and harassment. And I will be back to blogging, because I have just had it with women, and pagans, and other non-privileged non-dominant members of our society being harassed and silenced. I am angry that the First Amendment, which as enforced at present provides only precarious protection for those of us who belong to non-Abrahamic religions, is being used to justify the implementation of Christian fundamentalism as public policy. I am sick to death of misogyny. Women are the faces, and the bodies, and the hands and voices of the Divine Feminine, and I can no longer be silent while my Goddess is being abused.
All of my reactions on this issue relate directly to my spiritual path. As a witch, I have a deep reverence for life, and for the miracle that is a woman’s body. I have a strong belief in self-responsibility and the imperative that people must make their own choices in order to advance themselves both spiritually and in the mundane world. I understand that death is not an ending, and that life and death must exist in balance. I know that science and spirituality can co-exist, and syncretically augment our understandings of the inner and outer worlds. And I know that the Divine, by whatever name you may know it, is also Love. And Love is kind and helpful, not cruel, exclusionary, judgmental, and violent. It saddens me that there are folks out there who cannot act with forbearance and generosity, particularly when they claim to follow a prophet who was himself kind, humble, generous, and nonjudgmental.
I am not interested in changing anyone’s spiritual path or beliefs. But I will stand with the Goddess to defend the vulnerable from attack and to keep these fundamentalists from imposing their bizarre, mean-spirited, scientifically unsupportable ideas about appropriate health care decision-making on others. If you would like to join me, please email and I will make sure you are informed about any local opportunities for advocacy or support.
May the Lady of Love and the Lord of Light bring all of you support and strength when you need it.