Former “Pro-Life” Activist: “My Body Shouldn’t Be Up for Public Debate” October 13, 2020

Former “Pro-Life” Activist: “My Body Shouldn’t Be Up for Public Debate”

Two years ago, writer Shannon Dingle wrote about how, as the mother of six kids, some of whom have disabilities and special needs, she thought her Republican church friends would support her push for policies that might make their lives easier — including her denunciation of the GOP’s goal of allowing insurance providers to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

Her Republican friends didn’t care about her situation. They defended the party’s cruelty at all costs, even as it affected their friend’s life directly.

Her husband died last year, unexpectedly. Also unexpected was realizing, after his death, that she was pregnant with his child. As a now-single mother — with health conditions that could “make pregnancy life-threatening,” abortion became a real possibility for this once-“pro-life” activist. The pregnancy ultimately ended on its own but her concerns remain. It’s not just about her either. With the Supreme Court in danger of lurching toward a conservative super-majority, Dingle has now written a piece for USA Today about how those anti-abortion positions she used to hold no longer make sense.

I’m not pro-life anymore, not in the political sense. I firmly believe that decisions regarding pregnancy should be between a patient and doctor, not predetermined impersonally by a mostly male governing body. My body shouldn’t be up for public debate.

If abortion wasn’t an option, I likely would have faced death if the pregnancy had gone to full term. My kids would have faced the death of not only their father but also me, their mother. We’ve barely survived this past year and few months as it is, but we wouldn’t have made it with my physical and mental health overwhelmed by an unsafe pregnancy.

I’m glad I had the right to make decisions about how my story would unfold, instead of having it decided for me by the Supreme Court or Congress.

You can complain about why she didn’t come to the conclusion earlier, but the fact is that she’s here now. (Update: I should point out that she became pro-choice a few years before she was confronted with this situation.) She spent her life advocating for anti-abortion policies, which means she’s in a position where her rhetoric may carry more weight with other Christians. That is, if any of them are willing to listen to her instead of just inhaling conservative propaganda.

As Dingle writes, “caricatures make for good propaganda but terrible policy.” We know the effects of anti-abortion laws in states where they’ve come to fruition. White evangelicals and conservative Catholics may not give a damn how many lives they ruin by forcing women to give birth in every situation — and they may ignore the hypocrisy when a preacher’s daughter or conservative activist privately gets an abortion while saying something different in public — but it’s voices like these that deserve to be heard far more than a Pure Flix propaganda film about the “evils” of the procedure.

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