Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Sanctity of Life

I was born and raised in North Dakota.

It can be a tough state. The people are no-nonsense. Pragmatic. Resilient. They can also be intolerant.

In my town of about 8,000 on the North Dakota prairie, it was NOT ok to be different. I was a little brainy. I used big words. People thought I was odd. I WAS odd, for that town. I didn't belong there, and I knew it. Sure, I loved my family, I had friends, but I knew that North Dakota could not be my home forever. I was about 12 when I decided I was getting out as quick as I could.

Let me be clear: there are good people in North Dakota. I received a fine education. I was cared for by my parents, my neighbors and friends, and part of a faith community. I don't hate North Dakota or North Dakotans. I am proud to be a native North Dakotan.

But I am so sad for my home state right now. The Governor signed some bills into law today.

I am not going to argue with anyone about whether or not it is the right thing to do, about when life begins, about any of those questions. If you disagree with me, you have a right to do so respectfully and we can still be friends.

But here is why I am sad.

Because, while I have never had to make a decision about having an abortion myself, I don't believe I should have the right to make that decision for anyone else.

Because I don't know, if I had been told I was carrying a child with Down Syndrome, if I would have chosen to carry that baby to term.

Because sometimes sex isn't a choice, it is abuse, and I shudder to think of girls and women forced to carry a child created in violence.

Because as North Dakota lawmakers uphold the sanctity of life and every baby's right to be born, they cut funding that would benefit the children who are here, who through no fault of their own need a little help.

Because North Dakota educated me, taught me to think critically, to be independent, to be generous of spirit, to work hard and help my neighbors when they need it, to care for people less fortunate than myself, to share, to play nice, to be kind, to be strong, to give to my community, to respect people.

This law may "save" babies. But it is a hollow victory, because when the babies are full-fledged human beings, North Dakota lawmakers don't think they are worth caring for. A fetus is worth saving; a real live human being is not deserving of the slightest bit of respect.

My North Dakota is better than that.

And they wonder why college educated young people are leaving the state in droves.

You taught me to think, North Dakota. And I think you are wrong.

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