At present, conservative religious, social and political groups are actively pursuing an anti-choice offensive. The Vatican and Catholic groups are taking part in this offensive. Their actions are having an impact in Canada and in the House of Commons. Given this context, as members of the L’autre Parole collective, as feminists and as Christians, we believe it is important to make our voices heard. The notion that Christianity is inherently anti-choice is a gross misrepresentation.
Therefore, we are taking a stand “For life and for choice.”
1. We are “For Life”
1.1. This life, a divine gift, is present in every living being in nature. An empty uterus is still a living uterus, as it is formed by millions of cells in which the ebb-and-flow of life is circulating, and it belongs to a woman, who is very much alive herself. Life is transformed, but it remains life. Life is in circulation everywhere ; it is not a decision that is made by a higher power. Both life and death are always present in our lives. SHE (God3) gives of HERSELF and is present, in every form of life.
1.2. We are mindful of the fact that the life of a growing human being is at stake when considering a voluntary interruption of pregnancy. In our eco-feminist view of the interdependency of all forms of life, our love and respect for life remain integrally linked to our solidarity and deep respect for the women faced with deciding whether or not to interrupt a pregnancy.
2. We are “For Choice”
2.1 We trust in the ability of women to make choices. They are free agents, responsible and capable of making this ethical and political decision. Ultimately, the choice is theirs. Our position is grounded in the experience and life of each of these women, who are faced with an always difficult and sometimes heart-rending decision. Our position is grounded in the need to protect the integrity and health of their hearts and bodies.
2.2 We draw our inspiration from Jesus’ practices and from the infinite love that he gave throughout his life. Indeed, the Nazarene always welcomed people, men and women alike, just as they were, in all their human complexity. In his eyes, each individual had dignity and freedom.
3 We stand for sustainable life and sustainable choice
3.1 We are inspired by an environmentally conscious and sustainable vision of life. In the choice between giving birth or not giving birth, we support the most “sustainable” option : the one that allows other choices to come to life, the one that does not lead to untenable situations of psychological distress, education deficit or economic strife. Rather than support condemnation, we support choices that open doors to other possibilities.
3.2 We want sex education that is geared towards ensuring that adolescent and adult men take responsibility for their fertility.
3.3 We contend that to respect life, life that already exists must be respected, that is, the lives of women themselves. Life is complex. That is why we accept that women, in choosing what are often the “least detrimental” solutions, may make ambiguous, imperfect choices and may even make mistakes. Frequently, they find themselves in grey areas for such is real life, that of all humanity, life that does not fit neatly into abstract, “pure and virtuous” doctrines. Today, we repeat L’autre Parole’s rallying cry from 1982 : “Women’s lives are not an abstract principle.”
3.4 We believe that the services women need to make respectful, informed choices must be available for choice to be possible. The feminist movement won a hard-fought victory in setting up safe, available abortion services in every region of Quebec. More work remains to be done to increase accessibility and to promote research so that we can better understand this issue.
3.5 We are convinced that our acquired rights must still be defended. Now is not the time to accept any downgrading of services. Now is the time to continue fighting for better living conditions for women. We stand in solidarity with women the world over who are fighting for access to abortion services, “For life and for choice.”
1 L’autre Parole is a collective of feminist, Christian women that was founded in Quebec in 1976.
L’autre Parole’s position on abortion was adopted during the collective’s General Assembly, on August 18, 2013. For more background information (in French only) on the collective and its position, see www.lautreparole.org and look for L’autre Parole, No. 137.
2 Translation from French by Cynthia Kelly.
3 In English, L’autre Parole has chosen the expression “SHE (God)” (“La Dieue” in French) to express its feminist perspective.