I am sort of terrified of writing about abortion on this blog.

Of course, it’s hardly a topic I can avoid, given the very nature of this blog. I call myself a liberal and a feminist–that should give some pretty big clues to my views on abortion. But I also call myself a Christian, and I’m willing to guess that abortion is one of the biggest areas where people see a contradiction between feminism and Christianity.

So how I can I ignore this topic?

My fear is partly an interpersonal one. I have engaged in dialogue on Facebook and in real life about abortion plenty of times. I’ve seen conversations on this topic devolve into pathetic piles of rhetoric and anger. I don’t like conversations like that. They make me incredibly uncomfortable, whether I am a participant or an observer. I don’t want to bring that on myself by bringing up this issue in such a public way. I also have family and friends who care so passionately about this issue that I know they are pained by my beliefs. It hurts them to know where I stand, and I don’t like hurting them. Sometimes, for the sake of loved ones, it is easier to stay silent.

My fear is also one of self-preservation. I work for a Christian institution. I’ve heard of pro-life organizations leading letter-writing campaigns against pro-choice women faculty at other universities–and that was in an era before the internet. I don’t believe my views on abortion jeopardize my place in the Christian community, and they certainly don’t impact how I teach. In fact, I put abortion on the list of forbidden topics in my comp classes (along with gay marriage, the legalization of drugs, and a few other big topics) because emotions run too high on these issues for most freshmen to approach them in a pragmatic way. That also means that I never have to find out if I am at odds with my students’ views on these issues, thus preventing me from strong feelings in opposition or support of their opinions. But I do fear what would happen if someone latched onto my political beliefs and decided that makes me an inappropriate influence on the young adults that I teach, or a bad match for a Christian community.

Finally, I fear saying the wrong thing. In most cases, people can be forgiven for a misstep, but sometimes it seems like saying the wrong thing on abortion is a dealbreaker for relationships. How scary!

Despite these fears, it’s hard to be silent on such an important issue.

I feel most of my thoughts on abortion are explored thoroughly in the article I link to on my blog: How I Lost Faith in the Pro-Life Movement by Libby Anne. She does a wonderful job of exploring the logical problems with opposing legal abortion, as well as taking apart the contemporary activism strategies of pro-lifers. If you haven’t read it yet, please do so.

However, if you read this article and still have questions, and you pin me down and say, “What are your views on abortion?” I will answer like this:

  • I believe that women are safest when abortion is legal and accessible.
  • The best way to reduce the number of abortions in America is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. The most convincing strategies I’ve heard for doing this are comprehensive sex education, as well as accessible and inexpensive (or free) birth control.
  • The second best way to lower the abortion rate is to reduce the financial strain of pregnancy, delivery, and child rearing by creating a universal healthcare system, requiring employers to provide paid time off for new mothers and fathers, and improving our public education system.

In future posts, when I gather up the courage, I will address the reasons why I believe these things and how I transitioned from carrying around pro-life books and pamphlets in my backpack as a freshman in high school to where I am now. I’ll also address how it’s possible for a Christian to be pro-choice, because I know that’s a tough thing for a lot of people to wrap their heads around.

For now, I welcome comments but will not engage in a debate. You know, on account of the jitters. I will, however, take questions into consideration for future posts.