Today is the 43rd anniversary of the controversial Roe v. Wade abortion ruling. I have always been torn between my pro-life Catholic upbringing and my pro-choice heart. I hoped I’d never find myself in the position to have to decide whether or not to have an abortion but I also learned at a very early age that sometimes women( and girls) do and it’s one of the hardest decisions they ever have to make and it’s one she has to make for herself.
When I was 15-years-old, I had a friend who confided in me that she was pregnant and was going to have an abortion all on her own. I had no idea what to do but listen and hold her when she cried at her predicament. I was young and naïve and had no experience or reference to what she was going through. I felt useless because I couldn’t help her. The decision was one of the most agonizing things I’ve ever seen someone go through. In that moment, I knew I would always fight for a woman’s right to have dominion over her own body and reproductive system. I’ve been prochoice ever since.
So this morning when I went to mass, the one my daughter has been asking me to attend for 3 months because she was leading the choir, imagine my shock when the first words out of the priest’s mouth in the homily was, “Since today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade…..” followed by the phrase, “Women commit abortion” which is code for sin and then he went into how every life from the tiniest in the womb to the most elderly person on the footsteps of death are loved by God. That was powerful but it rubbed me the wrong way because I knew his undertone. He continued on saying, “ No matter what the mother feels, God loves that child.”
My mind was filled with all the noise and chaos of that moment when you know you have to say something, “OH.SHIT. This is the worst possible mass for me to attend because I instinctively go into defensive mode.I have a crazy need to right all the wrongs, especially when my children are part of the captive audience.
People, it took everything in my body not to raise my hand in front of a packed church of children and elderly, stand up and ask, “ But is God going to feed them, cuddle them, provide shelter and clothing for them? Is God going to make sure that every child born has all that he needs?” I was flabbergasted. Then something crazy happened, this priest, who is almost fanatically pro life, began to speak and his words were filled with compassion, caring and love.
His next few phrases are what blew my mind out of my head, right there in the back pew as my baby girl sang.
He said, “Abortion is man’s fault, not women. Because men should treat women like the crown jewels they are and love, respect, honor and support them and if they did, there would be no need for abortion because there would be no unwanted children.”
Let that sit with you for a minute.
Then he said, what I’ve said forever, “ Women are God’s most precious gift to Men and they are not to serve us, they are here for us to marvel with love, respect and adoration because without women, there is no life. Only women have been blessed with the ability to bring forth life.” Everything I thought I knew up until this point about this man changed.
Then he said, “ By men making women objects of lust instead of objects of love, they are to blame for putting women in these compromising positions.” I know that pregnancy take two and I don’t blame men alone for women being put in the position to choose life or not, but it was nice to finally here a man (a Catholic priest no less) say that men should take responsibility for their actions and keep it in their pants. I never expected to hear those words echoing through my church, ever.
Women have always been treated like second-class citizens throughout history in society and especially in the church. I’ve always felt differently and that’s made my views as a Latina and a woman unpopular with many men I’ve known.
I’ve never been particularly fond of this priest because I’ve always felt that he’s too judgmental on situations like these but this morning his words and his heart were filled with kind words of love and compassion for our children and that is so important when you are molding young children’s minds. His words moved me.
Don’t get me wrong I haven’t changed my mind. The feminist in me will always believe it is the woman’s right to choose and the 15-year-old me will always fight for the right for women to make their own choice without condemnation from others but he made me appreciate the choice from another perspective, more importantly he explained to my children in a way that fosters compassion and self-respect. I was impressed and in the end, I didn’t have to raise my hand or storm out of mass.