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Reverend David Helfer: Forced motherhood isn’t a choice for Rhode Island



I wondered, when I was younger, would my mother have had me if she had other options? Me and my two most immediate siblings were all born pre-Roe v Wade, all within a 4 year span. My mom, by the time the youngest was born, would have been all of 21. To me, that sounds pretty overwhelming.

Anyone that knows me knows I adore children. That I carry some sadness that I didn’t choose to parent. But that was a choice I made, and it is one I can live with.

Such is not true of those forced into parenthood.

One can’t be expected to live with choices not their own.

On this day, when we are supposed to celebrate motherhood, it feels a forced notion. Certainly there’s unintended pregnancies, siblings so much younger than all the others that it’s clearly they might have been an “oops, didn’t think we could still get pregnant” baby. But, too, there are so many times and situations when having a baby, raising a baby, is unthinkable.

Can we please ask a favor?

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And that’s a person’s choice. I’m not saying a woman’s choice, because that ignores that there are non-binary and trans* folks who birth children, too.

Rhode Island, on Tuesday evening, is going to vote on who controls one’s reproductive rights. And we need you there in force, clear that the arc of justice will not find it’s low point in our little state.

Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and ever more states are moving that arc not only backwards, but also with vicious intent. New heartbeat laws have been legislated, which effectively means that abortion is banned by the time a person knows they’re pregnant. Georgia will not only outlaw abortion in most cases, but will criminally punish those seeking abortions out of state.

All with the idea of getting one of these cases to the Supreme Court, where Roe v Wade – in the mindset of others – would be challenged.

There’s this phenomenally incorrect sense in Rhode Island that as a blue-state we’re safe here. That our legislators will protect a person’s reproductive freedom. And we couldn’t be more wrong. If and when Roe v Wade gets overturned, Rhode Island’s current laws would be activated, essentially barring all but a very few circumstances for abortion.

This is where state laws matter. With this current dederal administration, it’s likely we’d revert to state rights.

For two years, The Womxn Project, Planned Parenthood, and many others have been trying to pass legislation that would simply enshrine current federal legislation in place, so should Roe v Wade be modified, our state would be one of those upholding justice, ensuring access to abortion and other reproductive rights.

As clergy, I entirely reject the Catholic Church’s attempt to dominate and control access to reproductive freedom in Rhode Island – to ensure men remain in power. I will not accept reproductive constraints so horrific in Rhode Island that only those with privilege and means will be able to go elsewhere for necessary abortions.

As a minister, I ask you to find everyone in your Rhode Island world and bring them to the State House this Tuesday at 3pm. I so often hear folks ask, “What I can I do to stop the onslaught of terrible decisions?”

This. You can do this.

I’ll see you there.