I was 14 when I first learned what an abortion was.
One of my close friends at the time had just had one. She explained that when she learned she was pregnant, her mom felt that the best choice would be for her to terminate her pregnancy.
My friend wasn’t ready to be a mom. She was just a teenager. We both were.
As she shared her story, I listened. And I didn’t judge her. Though I was a young and naïve teenager, raised in a religious climate that preached purity culture (a culture I would later learn was more dangerous than helpful), I just wanted to be there for my friend. I didn’t throw the bible at her or use scriptures to condemn her. She didn’t deserve that. No one does.
I just knew she needed a friend.
When she opened up to another peer about what she’d done, this peer told another one. Then another. And once word spread about what my friend had done, she was labeled a “baby killer” around the school.
While my friend had a tough exterior and didn’t allow our peers to get under her skin too much, I could still see her pain. The pain that eventually began to come out in anger as she started defending and speaking up for herself against our cruel classmates who wouldn’t leave her alone.
I couldn’t believe what was happening.
But that experience shifted my perspective about judging and criticizing other people’s choices.
When I learned about the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade, I was speechless. I was also surprised, a little scared, and honestly felt powerless. I couldn’t help but think about the consequences of this decision and how it would impact the lives of everyone. Especially girls and women.
I turned on the news and saw some women protesting, some of whom were in tears about the decision. And I also noticed others who celebrated the decision and began slamming and expressing disapproval of those who weren’t supportive of it.
Eventually, I turned off the news and sat in silence.
I thought about the different women I’ve met and known who confided in me about their decisions to terminate their pregnancies. I thought about the shame some of them carried as they told me their stories. I thought about the teenagers I teach. I thought about the obnoxious protestors I’ve seen standing outside of a Planned Parenthood I’ve passed in traffic.
And then I pulled out my phone and shared: No matter where you “stand,” remember to step with wisdom and love. This is a tremendously fragile and unsettling time for many girls and women in this country.
I put my phone away, then I went to bed.
Regardless of where you stand on this decision and on women’s rights, I believe it’s important to seek to understand others instead of judging them. Listen to people and step with love. There’s far too much hate contaminating this world. And girls and women need to know that there are still people who care about them, their choices, and their rights.