In this Sept. 1, 2021 file photo, women protest against the six-week abortion ban at the Capitol in Austin, Texas. Even before a strict abortion ban took effect in Texas this week, clinics in neighboring states were fielding more and more calls from women desperate for options. The Texas law, allowed to stand in a decision Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 by the U.S. Supreme Court, bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically around six weeks. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP File)

In this Sept. 1, 2021 file photo, women protest against the six-week abortion ban at the Capitol in Austin, Texas. Even before a strict abortion ban took effect in Texas this week, clinics in neighboring states were fielding more and more calls from women desperate for options. The Texas law, allowed to stand in a decision Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 by the U.S. Supreme Court, bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically around six weeks. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP File)

Voices of the Peninsula: I believe in the right to choose

We all deserve the right to choose for ourselves, and our body, what is right for us.

By Elizabeth McDonald

Let me preface this with a statement: My parents are awesome, and raised me well. They instilled in me the ability to think critically, and decide issues for myself. They provided guidance and love and are two of my favorite people. The following is MY experience, not theirs.

When I was 16, I was effectively kicked out of a church because all of my friends were boys, and the leaders of the church decided that I must have been luring them toward sin with sex — despite the fact that I was a virgin. Truthfully, I just hated girl drama and the boys were better friends. The church leaders would hear none of that, having made up their mind that I was the bad seed and there was no other reason that boys would want to spend time with me.

At 18, I was required to argue “pro-life” in a debate for U.S. Government class. I received an A, and remember clearly the joy in the teachers face as he signed my yearbook, “God wants YOU for the pro-life movement!” I also clearly remember the pit in my stomach the whole time I argued, using his books and “facts” to make “my” point.

At 25, I lost a baby at six weeks, two days after discovering I was pregnant, due to an ectopic pregnancy that almost killed me. I had a visceral reaction to how it is listed in my medical history: spontaneous abortion. I hated the questions it brought up. I hated the fact that my loss was named the same as what others choose. It solidified my belief that for me, abortion was never an option.

However, as I have aged and grown and learned to question what I had been taught versus what I have experienced, I realized something of utmost importance: What is right for me, is not necessarily right for everyone else. I balk at people telling me what to do, how to live my life, forcing their beliefs on me. I grew up in the church from the age of 5, went to private Christian schools until I was 16, had the Bible and the “word of God” shoved down my throat over and over and over again. My choices weren’t mine, they were God’s, and I was to be an example.

But of what?

Those same “people of God” who berated me, my examples who “taught” me, who forced the “will of God” on me, were the same people whose personal lives, upon examination, showed them to be hypocrites of the highest degree. From the smallest infractions right up to adultery, addiction, porn, sex before marriage, abuse — and yes, even abortion. Who was I to believe? What was I to believe in?

At my ripe old age of 51, I believe this: We all deserve the right to choose for ourselves, and our body, what is right for us. Women are not second-class reproductive machines. I believe that consciousness determines viability. We turn off life-support when there is no longer brain activity, despite the existence of a heartbeat. So, consciousness and brain activity should be the sign of life at the beginning as well. I follow the science. I believe that church and state MUST be separate, and that freedom of religion means freedom FROM the same. I believe my relationship with a higher power is no one’s business but my own, and I certainly don’t need organized religion to tell me how it should look/work/be.

I believe in the right to choose.

What happened in Texas is a travesty. I wish those shouting, “My body my choice” about a piece of cloth held the same passion for fellow humans whose choices have been taken away. I wish those screaming about how much they care about an embryo also cared about the people that are HERE, RIGHT NOW, and need help. Instead, they turn their back and concentrate on regulating the right of an adult to choose their own medical path with the aid of their doctor. It is not pro-life, it is pro-birth.

I wish you all had my parents — because they would have taught you to behave better than this.

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