Abortion Discourse in the Church is Misleading and Exhausting

This situation has me feeling some type of way. Abortion is complicated. I wish people wouldn't paint it in such broad strokes to distort it into not looking that way.

Most abortions in the US are performed for underprivileged women of color. Forty nine percent of those who receive abortions live under the poverty line. Comparing these women to the parents of white BYU students is misleading and doesn't represent the population most affected by abortion. 

Of course it's easier for white, middle to upper class families to have more children. Statistically, these aren't the people having abortions. Meanwhile, women of color experience more rape, more sexual violence, and more unwanted pregnancy than white women do. So white people patting themselves on the back for not having abortions does absolutely nothing to help women affected most by this practice.

I'm not saying Elder Cook is unaware of this. I believe the Brethren care, and want to help women and families thrive, regardless of race. But a real conversation about abortion needs to talk about race, poverty, and the availability of health care for the under privileged.

Calling abortion a "moral blot," when it affects poor women and families of color so disproportionately, is inherently problematic. Especially when the inequalities and disadvantages in health care and education that make abortion necessary go entirely unacknowledged.

If we really care about eliminating aborting in healthy, sustainable ways for women most affected, our people have to do a hell of a lot more than having 3+ children. That does absolutely nothing to change the situations of women most impacted by abortion. To do that, we must change the economic inequality we perpetuate in the policies and institutions we uphold, especially in education and health care. Otherwise we have zero moral credibility to stand in judgment of women who choose abortion because we leave them with few other choices.

15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

 James 2:15-16

I know what it means to be an unplanned child to unwed parents in a family affected by alcoholism and addiction. That is my lived experience. Don't be so quick to think wishing that life on a child is some kind of perverse mercy. I grew up knowing I was a burden to my parents, and absolutely nothing was ever going to change that. It's the weight of trauma I still live with and affects every aspect of my adult life.

Before you condemn any woman who receives or might receive an abortion, ask yourself what you personally did to help her avoid that choice. What have you done to improve the lives of her children? Because from where I'm sitting, as the population of children for whom Elder Cook is trying to advocate, it's not enough.

As inelegant as Elder Cook's approach was, I know he cares. I know he helps vulnerable women and families. His words don't give a license to the rest of us to simply repeat his words in criticism, while taking no meaningful action to serve vulnerable women and families.

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