Last week I passed by a small group of people outside a Planned Parenthood building in Philadelphia praying in the rain, heads bowed and exposed to the fine mist from heaven.
Even though I was late to my appointment, I crossed the street to thank them. One woman, middle-aged, African American and leaning on a cane, thanked me for reaching out. "It doesn't happen often. It means the world," she said.
Regardless of your position on abortion, you cannot - if you are an honest person - deny that the vitriol is coming from one direction these days.
Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Amy Klobuchar, and Mazie Hirono are just a few of the senatorial sisters who have turned Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing into a referendum on Roe v. Wade. There are others, slightly less visible in the House, who are equally vocal about the so-called war on reproductive rights.
This column, in this local newspaper, will make about as much impact on the abortion controversy as the dent of a teaspoon in the vast ocean. I understand that opinions are hardened to the point that we hear the words "reproductive rights" and "unborn child" and immediately click to another channel, certain that the person speaking that way is not from our tribe, will not share our values and are therefore positioned far beyond our temporal reach. There is a spiritual Checkpoint Charlie that, unlike the real one that dissolved when the two Germanies reunited, still exists.
Kamala lives in one country, and I live in another, and there is no common ground to be had. That hope, one that seemed feasible in the past, has disappeared with the elimination of good faith bargaining. Now, the pro-choice/pro-abortion/anti-life camp refuses to even consider the possibility (which is actually scientific fact) that a child is a child regardless of location and regardless of gestation. Equally, the pro-life/anti-abortion/anti-choice camp thinks that they - that we - are being hounded into capitulation because a majority of Americans want to keep abortion legal. We must be silent, because we speak inconvenient truths.
Some of us choose not to be silent. I am one of them. I cannot understand how the same people who support my work on behalf of refugees, those who are vulnerable to the powerful forces of persecution, condemn my advocacy on behalf of the unborn.
Perhaps that's not exactly true. I understand quite well why those who cling to abortion as a right and sacrament make distinctions between those who are born, and those who are reaching toward that light. They do so because their kindness and their compassion, real sentiments that they do harbor in their hearts, extend only to those who do not compromise their own autonomy, their own comfort, their own lives and what a friend persists in calling "my destiny." It is easy to be generous with our good will, when it places no limitations on our liberty.
I would not be honest if I didn't examine the other side of the coin, my sisters and brothers who oppose abortion but who have a problem with refugees and make sure to use the word "legal" whenever they speak of immigrants. They distinguish themselves from the hard hearted by waxing eloquent about welcoming immigrants who do it "the right way," ignoring that there is no longer a "right" way given the shuttering of doors and windows by this administration. They are not of my own tribe, either.
But as between those with actual policy differences on immigration, and those who refuse to recognize the humanity of those points of light in utero, I choose to align myself with those who start from zero. Unless we fight to communicate that message, that abortion seals us off from our decency and our integrity and our nature as good humans, we have let the anger of the senatorial sisters and their own conscripted handmaidens win.
I may not win. That small and humble group, praying in the rain, may not win. Not in this moment. But evil has an expiration date, whether it be 4 years, 47 years, or a century. And the message of life has none. So they will pray, and I will speak, and the voiceless will be heard. Even if no one listens. They will be heard.
Copyright 2020 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected]