Wisconsin’s Historic Election – April 2023
I am the Senior Minister at the First Congregational Church here in Appleton. I’ve been a pastor for 40 years. Before I went to seminary, I worked for one year at an abortion clinic in North Carolina. It was the first clinic for miles around in 1976.I learned a lot that year.
My clients became the face of this issue for me. I learned that most of them had to rise well before dawn and drive for many hours in the dark to get to the only place in several states where they could get an abortion. I learned that that no one made this decision lightly. It was their last resort in the hard reality of their lives. It came after anguish, tearful nights and often lots of prayers. Most of these patients told me they simply didn’t have enough to go around. They loved their children and but they could not feed one more child.
I also met a girl who was 12 and came to the clinic twice that year. She needed 2 abortions in 10 months. She told us she needed the abortion because she was a softball player and needed to play. That comment tells you how young she was. We asked her how she got pregnant, but she wouldn’t say. When we asked about her boyfriend. We explained birth control; she grew silent. Eventually, she indicated she had an uncle who came by and had his way with this child – because that’s what she was, a child. I’m betting if I saw that children like that in jsu one year it’s much more common than we like to think.
What I learned that year was, no one was cavalier about this procedure or callous about what they were doing. Everyone who came to our clinic, and there were hundreds of patients, had made a very personal decision. It was not easy for any of them to be there, and they were very vulnerable.
That’s what’s at stake here in this April election – the rights of women and girls to make some of the hardest decisions of their lives without restrictions from strangers who seek to impugn their motives, or second-guess them. Here in this country where we believe in the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness we also believe that everyone should control the most personal decisions about our own bodies.
That’s what’s at stake – those decisions about our bodies. We don’t have to need an abortion today to know how vulnerable we’d feel if we did need one. The majority of people in this country support a woman’s right to choose, but some politicians are telling us they know better. They are saying that their faith should dictate our right to choose, their beliefs are more important than the will of the people. There is nothing in the Bible about abortion. I have done my research. There are plenty of places in the Bible where Elijah or Jesus listen to women, recognize their authority, acknowledge their wisdom.
What’s on the ballot in April is the fundamental rights we believe in, in our democracy, the rights to choose our leaders in free and fair ways, the rights to control our bodies, the rights to love who we love, and the rights to be who we are meant to be.
We all need to weigh in. That’s how democracy works. We have the votes to support a supreme court candidate who listens to the people, who cares about justice, who is not easily bullied, and who will do the right things. But now it’s on us. We need to elect her – for our sakes, and for the sakes our daughters, our granddaughters. It’s time for us to stand up and make sure the women of Wisconsin are safe.