Simple Gestures: Part Two


Here is a continuation of the previous post on the Planned Parenthood action:

As a Pagan, I have a deep sense that the sacred flows through all and that includes creation and destruction. I also sense that in this flow, spirit can move on if necessary. I had an abortion once, many years ago, when a condom broke with someone who was in no way a partner to me, and I was ill equipped to care for a child, as it was struggle enough to pay my own rent. I spoke to the spirit and asked it to please be released to do its work through some other means. The decision was not easy, and I vowed to never go through that again, but I was certainly grateful for the option, both for myself and the spirit that would have taken root in me.

Let me say this, clearly: An adult woman’s life is more valuable to me than the life of a fetus. A fetus is potential. An adult is action. Both are part of the sacred flow, yes, but if a choice must be made, I know where I stand. I eat things in order to live, are these things not a part of sacred flow? They are. Every time I breathe, I’m harming and killing microbes of all sorts. Are they not part of sacred flow? They are. These things are sacred, and still, I choose to live, and hope to contribute something to this cosmosphere that is worthy of all the little lives I take each day. I would not be living this life if I had a 20 year old whom I had raised. For some, parenting is a powerful, gracious act that feeds their lives. For me, this was not to be so.

In the 1980s, I did ‘clinic defense’ when Operation Rescue was out in full force at clinics. I helped make cordons through which women and men could walk to have access to services. I also shouted at the shouters. Yesterday, it felt good to sit in silence and hold the clinic in my field of awareness. I even blessed the protesters across the street, because they had provided the impetus for my being there at all.

One man who joined us yesterday was there because he had friends who had died from botched, illegal abortions. Even with limited and dangerous options, those women still needed to choose. May we honor life by honoring our ability to personally make strong and difficult choices, in order to best support the unfolding of life’s path. May the sacred move through us, informing our decisions. May we act with an impulse toward life in all its varied glory. May we make choices, like adults, with full consciousness of our acts and the risk of their consequences. May we live fully, honorably, and contribute our very best to give back to the fabric of all.

The choice I made many years ago is one that was wrenching, and I stand by it. The best I can do, every day, is to let my life be a legacy: to that spirit I sent on its way when it was the barest fingerling of matter on this plane; to the spirits of all the food I eat; to all the microscopic beings I make use of; to the fossil fuel I expend each time I travel to teach…. The list goes on. Some things are born and some things die. My life is part of that. I do harm. I also do my level best to do good.

As a Pagan, I honor life and I honor death. To give full honor is to take personal responsibility for my part in these cycles. Sometimes one thing must give way for another to rise. This is not without struggle, and most often, the struggle is within.

So if you ask me, I will say, “It’s complicated, so yes, I am pro-choice.” And to be pro-choice means to be pro-responsibility, pro-contemplation, and pro-action. It means sometimes we hold death, to better serve this life.

Life is complicated, yes, yet the answer is still simple: we try to live according to our ideals.

6 Responses to “Simple Gestures: Part Two”

  1. Rick Loftus, M.D.

    Thorn, thanks for the this thoughtful and moving pair of postings about the relationship between our stewardship of the sacred and activism. Is there a listserv or email list for people who may want to join you next week?

  2. Thorn

    Rick, thanks for asking. All I have right now is a Facebook event for the action. But here is the information:
    Come sit in silent meditation from 12-1pm on Wednesday March 17th at Planned Parenthood at 815 Eddy Street in San Francisco. We will have a few signs that say “We Support Planned Parenthood” and “Women’s Lives are Sacred”.

    More signs are welcome, but please make sure they are non-confrontational. We are there to hold space and be present in our own love and power, not to have a smack down with any “40 Days for Life” people who might be there.

    A blanket with a couple of books for an ersatz zafu work OK, or bring something else to sit on.

    If you wish to join in the silence, you are welcome. Come for as long as you are able.

    Of course, people can also organize at Planned Parenthood clinics no matter where they are! I just recommend telling the clinic you will be there ahead of time.

  3. Alfrecht

    Thank you for these two posts, Thorn.

    This reminds me of some things that happened ten years ago, while I was at Gonzaga University in Spokane, just finishing up my M.A. I was pretty active in local politics and social action while I was there, and on one occasion, the Women’s Studies Group at GU invited a speaker from Planned Parenthood to come and discuss the issue of clinic bombings and the like. Unbeknownst to the leadership of the group, the president of GU phoned and cancelled the speaker and forbade her to come to campus. (The mantra of the administration became “This is not censorship; it’s non-sponsorship.”) Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with us, and there was a multi-week reaction to the whole situation that made the news several times. The outrage on all sides was palpable, but the rhetoric coming from the “Abortionists are Nazis” side was pretty disgusting. There were several statements to the effect that the “non-sponsorship” of this speaker at a university society’s meeting (even though the speaker was voluntary and not being paid at all for coming) was because the Catholic, Jesuit university could not sponsor a representative of an organization known to be involved with termination of life as one of its daily activities. When these debates began, I created a bit of a stir by very calmly asking the question, “If that ideological position is the case, why then does this university have an R.O.T.C. program?” (I’ve always found it the heights of irony and hypocrisy that a great deal of ink has been spilled over “just-war theory/theology” in a number of Christian religions, including Catholicism, but the “pro-life” ethic only applies to certain issues in the pre-life and end-of-life periods, and not to things like medical care, making sure everyone is fed, and other issues of actual, you know, “life” and its continuation…!?!) This didn’t sit well with the university administration, and they never really did provide an answer to the question. Oh well.

    May your efforts meet with much success and transformation of consciousness, and may the work that Planned Parenthood is doing, and the people providing it, be blessed and protected for as long as these services are necessary.

  4. sara

    The phrase ‘pro-life’ needs to be unpacked and defined for what it is, and many of those who claim to fall into this camp need to redefine themselves as ‘pro-BIRTH’. That is what they are. They are in favor of a woman giving birth to a child the woman is for various reasons going to be unable to care for properly. Life is what happens as the child grows. It is not just what happens in the womb.

    I’ve always found it highly hypocritical that the life of the child if it is brought to term and birthed is never taken into account.

    Joan Chittister had an interesting discussion with I think Bill Moyers?? some years ago about the pro-birthers being so out of touch and not understanding the hypocrisy of pro-life-ism not extending to women in countries where we are waging war under the auspices of maintaining order. What about those Iraqi women who were killed in the bombings when Bush was in full throttle saying he’d get Saddam? Were some of them pregnant? Does the pro-birth lobby of the GOP war machine even care?

    Last month the state of UT passed legislation to punish women who have miscarriages. What I’d like to know is when we lost our identities and became perpetually ‘pre-pregnant’.

    And I’d best cut it short before I start babbling inarticulately…

    (Thank you for posting about this, Thorn).

  5. Flame

    *A fetus is potential. An adult is action*

    THIS. Thank you.


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