Volume 80, Number 40 | March 3 - 9, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Apoplectic about abortion: My emotional roller coaster
By Reverend Donna Schaper
I used to be angry, now I am apoplectic. I also used to be fraulein and now I am a frau. I used to be a mademoiselle and now I am a madame, a senorita and now a senora. In other words, I am a mature woman, whose human rights are vanishing before her very eyes. For a long time, I have confused myself with a man and a human and become habituated to freedom. I don’t like it when Congress treats me like a girl by hacking away at abortion rights and thinking about eliminating funds for family planning.
From deep within my apoplexy, I ask: What in the name of God and good is Congress thinking? My reluctant and puzzled conclusion: Congress is moralizing about sex and how some people are not supposed to have it while one “member,” and I do mean “member,” after another is discovered in a bathroom with his pants pathetically down or on a screen showing off his biceps. Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer and Mark Sanford remind me of nothing so much as my 16-year-old son, who twice in one year forgot to remove a used condom from his jeans’ pocket, for me to find when I laundered the pants. I don’t remember moralizing. I do remember conversation. Moralizing is not conversation. Congress wants to be punishmentalist and moralizing about female sexuality, as though it was theirs and not mine.
Certain members of Congress are living on a hypocritical erotic planet. People have sex. They love sex. Women love sex. I actually feel sorry for Larry Craig and what he sees as his potty room, the only place he is worthy of sex. Even if it becomes “illegal” in its reproductive consequences, people are going to have sex. Some will have it in bathrooms; others will have it on the Internet when their married lives start to bore them.
Republicans are also politically hypocritical. They say out of one side of their mouth, “Less government,” and out of the other, “More moral policing by big government.” Did these electeds never take a class in logic? Do they really “think with their d---s?” Forgive the slang, but it fits way too well with my argument. Political logic would attach family planning to a decrease of the deficit and increase the funding for it. One “D” word appears to be in the way of another. More unwanted children require more schooling, polices and services. Duh.
To even bring up the South Dakota possibility of encouraging people to murder doctors who do abortions is to move beyond apoplectic, where even rage doesn’t protect our souls. I am going to ignore the South Dakota possibility on the grounds of my spiritual health, which is my only new subject in this tired and tiring conversation.
I am now praying for my mental health as a mature woman. I am praying to learn what Jesus could do, which is to love my enemy and be good to those who hurt me. As an adult, and a woman, I know my rage is hurting me as much as it is hurting my opponents. Can I try to understand what the sex police want? Do they want to justify their bathroom behavior? Do they want their mothers to find “something?” Are they really capable of an abstinence that they are forcing on women? As a pastor, the only explanation I can give for the immoral stupidity of the current proposal is here: Some people on the religious right really hate their own sexuality. That almost makes me sad enough to care about them. Just almost, as I still need the defense of anger. Anger is not the opposite of love. Indifference is.
My political opponents are no longer just opponents: They are enemies of my adulthood and the enemy of girls who will become adults if I have my way, and won’t if they have theirs. I wish I could bear all the sadness they have caused me and not cover it so with rage. I do love women, girls, sex, babies and sons, as well as daughters.
And I love choice. The choice to be a woman and not a girl. If men had to have abortions, they would be a sacrament. Since they don’t, they aren’t. I think choice is sacramental. And finally, I love sacraments. What we have done to sex and girls and women is anti-sacramental. Choice can be sacramental. That is why I am apoplectic about it.
Schaper is senior minister, Judson Memorial Church