Kehrberg: Pro-life feminist

Feb 27, 2017 by

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Sadly, we were too often more deeply committed to being “red” or “blue” than to Jesus, who cannot be defined by either. — Richard Showalter

For years, here in the U.S., many Anabaptists stayed out of the political sphere and didn’t vote. Goodness, but that has changed.

Sarah Kehrberg


We not only vote, we vote with passion and loyalty. We seem to have forgotten that politics is a religion that wants our allegiance as fiercely as any other.

How alarmingly easy it is to turn a political party into family, politicians into saviors, social media and the press into truth, and political ideology into the gospel.

I find it frustrating that among Christians every issue becomes a barometer of salvation; solutions that lie outside the Republican or Democratic agenda are rejected out of hand.

“Women’s issues” is a good example of this, particularly the controversy over Planned Parenthood.

The darling of most Democratic candidates, Planned Parenthood has decided that abortion is a form of health care and a woman’s right.

Pro-lifers have chosen to make Planned Parenthood the target of their efforts and campaign for Republican politicians in hopes they will shut Planned Parenthood down. Unfortunately, these same politicians also pursue the Republican agenda to dismantle the social-welfare state, and in the process defund alternative, affordable health care that does not include abortion.

I say all this because I’m tired of allowing myself to be shoved into one ditch or the other.

I’m a pro-life feminist. I know the moniker is laced with baggage, but until someone suggests a better one it gets the point across.

Instead of demonizing and defunding Planned Parenthood, I want to champion and support those clinics and organizations that, while not offering abortion as an option, are known for their affordable and quality health care for women. There aren’t nearly enough.

I believe all women should have access to reliable birth control here and around the world. At the same time, I reject the idea that abortion and birth control are the same thing.

Being pro-life is not a rigid stance. There can, and should be, ongoing discussion of when life begins. Do we have to reject something like the Plan B pill? Couldn’t this be an empathetic and moral response to, say, rape victims?

I know I am not alone in the desire to claim my own definition of what a feminist looks like. Perhaps we can gather as a group at the next Women’s March. We’ll wear the pink kitty hats and carry signs that proclaim:

“Equal pay for women!”

“Affordable and reliable birth control for all women!”

“I’m marching for our children! No more abortions!”

“Affordable childcare now!”

“Zero tolerance for sexual harassment!”

“An unwanted life is still a life!”

“Misogyny happens!”

“It is not a woman’s right to end life!”

Abortion is not the only issue that has been put in the straitjacket of party loyalty. Maybe you are a gun-owning pacifist. Or you’re passionate about developing clean energy sources like wind and solar but aren’t convinced climate change is a thing.

I’m not arguing for my own Christian political ideology. I merely remind the church that there is no possible way that the Republican or Democratic Party has God’s kingdom figured out and will bring it to its fullness by its agenda.

I fear the condemnation I may receive by openly stepping outside party lines. But I believe that if we would follow Jesus, our road winds in and around the straight party ticket.

Jesus said, “If my kingdom were of this world . . .” Meaning, it isn’t.

Sarah Kehrberg lives in Swannanoa, N.C., and attends Asheville Mennonite Church.

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