I have three kids.
There’s 13-year-old Kyle, who we are trying to guide through the complex teen years, and 10-year-old Lyric, who brought the song back to our hearts when we were able to hold her for the first time, something we weren’t able to do with Fabrice McKenzie, our other daughter.
She would have been 11 years old had she safely made it out of her mother’s womb.
Fabrice left us during the first trimester before we could even experience her smile.
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I still wonder what she would look like, wonder how her personality would differ from her brother’s and sister’s, how the three of them would have interacted.
Fabrice’s life began the moment my wife and I decided to try and bring her into the world.
That’s how I would respond to people, particularly conservative Christians who can’t seem to separate loyalty to the GOP from belief in God, if they genuinely aske for my views on issues such as abortion.
They seldom do, though. The few times some of them have, they cut me off and insist my story about Fabrice means I must declare myself pro-life the way they have, that I couldn’t in good conscience vote for anyone without an R behind her name.
That’s why I wrote I was relieved to have gotten away from this area for most of a year, because it had become increasingly difficult to see God with so many people in the area proudly conflating faith and politics.
Not a few readers were angry that I said such and have been responding since.
What’s been telling is that many of them weren’t interested in the notion that their brand of politics is making it harder for people to see God. Their immediate reaction was to declare that they had First Amendment rights and planned to keep on using them.
They were more concerned about their place in the political order than the effect they are having on other people’s faith walk.
Faith infected by politics perverts them both.
That isn’t to say a person of faith can’t favor a particular political party or adamantly fight for particular political policies or express a particular political allegiance.
But how it is done matters. If you can’t reach a person, you shouldn’t become a barrier to their faith.
Some Christians understand that. I’m not referring to them. I’m talking about those who passionately claim that anyone who doesn’t agree with them on an issue, like abortion, must be pro-death, pro-mass murder, pro-genocide.
I believe life begins before conception — the moment we began planning for our kids, they became real — and I am pro life, but not in the way conservative Christians insist I must be.
In a society that should not be run by the dictates of one religion, or one interpretation of faith, legally defining the beginning of life as when a fetus can survive outside the womb makes sense.
It takes into account the woman’s constitutional rights and humanity; something many of those who conflate faith and politics rarely seem to.
What’s the alternative? Forcing women to declare to a government agency the moment they get pregnant so they can be monitored for 9 months, their every choice and move dictated by government officials? Or maybe pregnant women should be jailed for considering abortion in the way we jail people for attempted murder?
This issue is not simple, no matter how many people declare it is.
And declaring yourself pro-life doesn’t make you more likely to enact policies that protect children, in or outside the womb.
Under the current Democratic, pro-choice administration, the abortion rate has fallen to an all-time low.
The rate has been driven down by policies many conservative Christians oppose, including better access to contraception and public health care. Roughly 800,000 abortions and 250,000 miscarriages are prevented every year by the kind of government policies people who call themselves pro-life hate.
That’s why I am anti-unwanted pregnancy, not pro-life or pro-choice.
The fewer unwanted pregnancies, the fewer abortions and excruciating decisions that have to be made by already-stressed pregnant women.
I don’t know what we could have done differently to have saved Fabrice from a miscarriage.
I don’t have the answers to life’s most vexing problems.
But neither do those who confuse faith and politics.