Autonomy & abortion

I thought this article was very interesting. It is about access to abortions in Indonesia and self-administered abortions. I think of three key considerations from a Mennonite/Anabaptist perspective:

1) women gaining independence from men controlling women’s bodies – I think this is critical for human dignity. There is also the question about men’s responsibility for sharing the load in caring for children, a responsibility often evaded. The Mennonite/Anabaptist practice of community at its best creates space for personal ethical expression, but within a loving and responsible weave of relationships. No one’s body is controlled by another. And at the same time, we take responsibility to care for each other. It is an expression of a paradox of space and togetherness. Our model is Jesus, who wasted no time declaring independence from the harmful abuse of, for example, sabbath laws. At the same time, he made himself radically available to others, extending care, conversation, and argument! to those around him.
2) the value of intact communities sharing the risk, cost, challenges, and questions when women are face with unwanted pregnancies or ambivalence about their pregnancies. Here again, the weave of good Mennonite/Anabaptist community practice offers something of great value: no individualistic reckoning or action, but at best, a thoughtful, engaged, and intimate process of shared discernment for the sake of goodness for individuals and for the communities. In strong community, we are not drowned in a social soup of control, suspicion, and control. At the same time, we are not cut loose to live or die alone in the wilds of individualism. Jesus said “I am…” over and over, declaring personal agency. And he always said this in the midst of a “people.” He spoke his heart; he also immediately sought out friends and collaborators.
3) that abortion not be treated casually – interrupting the development of a human fetus has a resonance and import that we may not fully understand or be able to completely articulate rationally. We as communities need strong stories, deep listening, and nurtured mutual relationships to create a context for holding the questions and considerations that are presented by abortion. The Mennonite/Anabaptist practice of community provides a wholesome, open, safe place for deep listening and soulful speaking so that we may together find pathways forward. At its best, this is a practice that can constructively hold great mysteries, puzzles, and tensions, a place for the beloved presence and work of the Holy Spirit.

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