My heart is heavy and my mind is weary this week. Our Texas legislatures just delivered two punches against justice and common sense in the form of House Bill 1927 and Senate Bill 8. The first allows anyone over 21 to openly carry a handgun without a license, training, or background check. The other prohibits all abortions, for any reason, after six weeks and deputizes the public to turn in anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion. Citizens are offered a $10,000 reward for snitching on their neighbors. That is a policy straight from the Stasi Headquarters in East Germany after World War II.
A writing colleague of mine, Apple Gidley wrote a poignant blog about this. In it she writes, “It makes me wonder if the quartet of middle-aged, white men who lead the Lone Star State – (Greg) Abbot, (Dan) Patrick, (Ken) Paxton, and (Ted) Cruz – spurred on by deeply conservative voices, have between them an ounce of compassion let alone a modicum of intelligence.”
I wonder the same thing. I respect those who believe abortion is wrong at any time, under any circumstance, and that stopping abortions is more important than any other issue, including the life of the woman carrying the fetus. I don’t agree, but I understand that point of view.
What I cannot understand is how people can be so adamant against abortion, while being so willing to let dangerous, angry, and sometimes deranged, people openly carry lethal weapons in public places. So far in 2021 Texas has seen a 14% increase in shootings, about 3,200 of them, not counting suicides. That was before House Bill 1927 came into law. There is an open carry exception for those with a criminal background, but since no background check is required, that is essentially a useless footnote.
It seems no amount of conversation, civil or otherwise, no amount of data, no amount of protesting, campaigning, and contacting our elected representatives, is moving the needle toward full equality for women and people of color.
The Joy and Challenges of Birth
My only two pregnancies resulted in my two amazing daughters. Other people say they are amazing. I agree with those opinions. They in turn have each given birth to three children; three girls, three boys – all now young adults. My husband and I wanted a family, but I was not thrilled when, a few months into our marriage, the doctor’s office told me I was pregnant. I wasn’t ready. My husband was still finishing college. I was in my first job out of college. Between us we barely earned enough to cover rent, car payment, utilities and food. In our efforts to be responsible adults, we used birth control. Every single time. The doctor who prescribed it said it was 95% effective. I was part of the 5% statistic.
However, I was very fortunate. Between us we had four parents who saw the value of ensuring their first grandchild would have all she needed. With plenty parental support, we forged ahead and launched our family a couple of years ahead of our intended schedule.
Preserving Life, Protecting our Daughters
I would never suggest women use abortion as a form of birth control. However, when a woman is assaulted, as thousands are every year, and pregnant as a result; or carry a severly deformed fetus; or have a toxic pregnancy that could cost her her own life, I would hope that she, in consultation with a doctor, could determine what is in her best interest. I don’t believe the Texas quartet of middle-aged, white men care one iota about me, my daughters and granddaughters, or any other women, or our babies, born or unborn.
The Rev. Paul Ziese, a colleague of mine, wrote an excellent Facebook post on this subject last week. He points out that the Bible focuses on capacity to breathe as the criteria for life, rather than heart beats. I highly recommend you take a few minutes to read his post.
I will refrain from more arguments regarding what our Texas legislature has done and instead offer this prayer. I’m out of any good ideas about what else to do.
A Prayer for Sensible Responses to Social Issues
Lord and giver of all life, help.
We are stuck on two sides of a great divide, unable to see a meeting place in the middle.
We have turned our neighbors into our enemies.
We are in bondage to our individual beliefs and cannot free ourselves.
We have lost our ability to debate without animosity and resentment.
We are starved for the authentic community that we need in order to thrive.
Lord and judge of our actions, help.
Grant us eyes to see different points of view and ears to hear perspectives different than our own.
Help us to truly value all life by repealing laws that hurt and enacting policies that build up our communities.
Help us provide shalom, health, and security for every man, woman, and child among us.
Lord and source of hope, help.
Come to the aid of those who accompany the abused, the immigrants fleeing from danger, those infected by the pandemic, the neglected and the bereaved.
Grant them strength and resolve to continue the long, slow march toward full justice and liberty for all.
Lord of grace, help.
Forgive those who let their thirst for power overcome their obligation to serve the people who granted them their power.
Grant clear minds and compassionate hearts to all in positions of public influence.
Lord of creation, help.
Comfort and encourage women as they bring new life into the world.
Guide women everywhere who struggle with this the heavy responsibility.
Surround them with compassionate mentors and guides in their time if trouble.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.
(Image from UK Financial Times)
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