We have more in common than society would like us to believe. Divisiveness is rampant. We cannot succumb to it by vilifying each other. There is room for all of us.
I was raised in a conservative Christian household and was heavily involved in my evangelical church. At the young age of 12, I found myself to be intensely pro-life and religious. I prayed for my friends and read the Bible on the school bus. My life changed one day. I think this is an important moment to share.
I finished an argument on the bus with a close friend about abortion. I got off at my stop and remember viscerally thinking to myself, “I will NEVER change their mind … and they will NEVER change mine!” In an instant, clarity washed over me. I asked myself “then what are you doing”? The answer was creating tension, division, even feelings of hatred for someone I loved. I was shaking, angry, and was not loving. Rather than seeking to be in relationships with others, I was seeking to be right. This was the great equalizer for me. If my convictions were so righteous to me, maybe theirs were righteous to them. How could I ask them to respect my beliefs if I could not respect theirs? That was the day I decided that my faith didn’t have to be so angry or sanctimonious. It does not diminish our own values to allow someone else to have theirs. My faith had room to love, and learn, and grow.
We don’t have to disagree on everything. We, women, deserve the same freedoms. We are entitled to the same access to healthcare as everyone else. We cannot presume to know what is right or best for anyone. Who are we to judge? We all need to place more trust in each other, because we matter. We each deserve respect as fellow human beings. We must care about each other the way we would like to be cared for. The same goes for the Legislature.
In Idaho, some are in the spotlight saying the lives of women matter less than the lives of the unborn. No one should look anyone in the face and tell them that they do not matter enough. The conversations about women’s bodies, family planning, contraception, and abortion don’t belong on the news, in the courthouse, statehouse, or in policy memos. These conversations belong between women and their families, and their doctors. In any instance that your health, safety, or life is in danger, I will defend you and do everything in my power to protect you.
We have an opportunity to lift each other up. Many people from every part of the political spectrum have told me where they stand, and overwhelmingly, agree that we matter. Extremist opinions about how we live are not acceptable. Allowing access to safe and legal abortion is critical for ectopic pregnancies and for the health of the mother. Faith and love in action includes making space for others. This is also what I learned that day on the bus.
The moral of this story is we can meet in the middle. Let’s make sure we’re not ostracizing others or isolating ourselves. Engaging and working together is best for all of us. Our communities need us and we need each other more now than ever before. Let’s meet in the middle. Women still have the right to choose, we have the right to choose each other and this must be done at the ballot box in November.