I’ve often heard, “In order to “help” my sisters, I should support them in all of their Reproductive Right endeavors.” But what happens when giving a woman access to all of these things actually impedes her freedom?
Let me explain by way of an analogy. Let’s say I buy you a car for your birthday, but I don’ t teach you how to use the car. You sort of figure out how to drive, but you get in an accident. To remedy this, you ask me to build bumpers on the road, and walls near cliffs, to help you. This will allow you to drive the car as you see fit, and the barriers will keep you from driving off the road.
I oblige, and off you go.
Despite my assistance on the road, your car continues to be totally wrecked because you keep running into bumpers and walls. You’re driving the car, but you’re relying more on the barriers than your own ability, because I still haven’t taught you how to use the brakes.
If I had taught you how the car works – how to use the brakes, gas, blinker, what the lines on the road mean, etc. – you’d have been a lot better off. You could have driven the car well, avoiding flat tires, scrapes, banged up mirrors, and more, if I had just shown you how to operate this vehicle in the first place. Had I shown you how to use the car’s features appropriately, you would have been able to use the car to its full potential. You could have driven it down any road you wanted. You could have waited at the edge of the cliff, taking it all in (and maybe even listening to some cool music) as they built a bridge across it for your safety.
Instead, I let you recklessly go, hitting things, hurting others, and even hurting yourself. Maybe you’d have figured it out eventually, or maybe not. Either way, you and I both thought I was doing you a favor in building the walls and bumpers, but because you never actually learned how to use the car, or what the car was worth, you couldn’t really enjoy it.
The same is true with Reproductive Rights. Birth control, abortion, and contraception all say to women: “Hey, you don’t know how to operate yourself. Let’s put up walls, bumpers, and more, to prevent you from harming others and yourself.”
The reality is that as a woman, I have all these amazing built-in signs to show me how my body works. I have a brain that thinks and operates in such a way that I can make a choice to do, or not do, something. I don’t need someone to hold my hand and tell me that I have no control over myself. In order to be free, I need to understand myself, and choose to use the brakes, rather than a wall, to exercise that freedom. This is what caring for my sisters is really about: showing her what she was made for, has the power to do, and how to do it well.
Ladies, your body is made to do amazing things! And the wonderful gift that YOU are – body, heart, mind, and soul – is to be shared with someone equally wonderful. Letting you “drive” your heart and body all over the place, hurting yourself and others, doesn’t uplift your dignity, or the dignity of anyone else. It causes more pain and anguish.
Waiting on the edge of the cliff for the bridge to be built may seem like an eternity, just like waiting for the right guy to come along to marry us feels like an eternity of saying “no” to sexual intimacy with others. But just like waiting for the security of the bridge before driving across the canyon is totally worth it (and actually saves our lives), so is waiting for the right man to lay down his life at the altar for you. It is worth putting on the brakes until he arrives. If we wait well, we won’t regret it, and we will possess our own selves, living authentic, true freedom in the process.
Ashley Ackerman is first and foremost a daughter of God, and after that she works for His glory as a high school religion teacher, campus minster, speaker, and blogger. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she earned her master’s degree in Theology. You can read more of Ashley’s blog posts by visiting her personal blog, “A Heart Made for Grace” where she shares her musings on all things Catholic.