Thinking about reproductive rights in relation to faith often leads to a series of very dangerous statements which limit a woman’s ability to both understand and control her physical being. But I don’t think it needs to be this way. In fact, I think approaching one’s body as a sacred piece of a larger sacred creation should rather encourage us to understand our bodies and treat ourselves with respect. I should clarify that I am beginning from the standpoint that I believe it is a woman’s right to choose when and how she conceives a baby. But, I also think that “a woman’s right to choose” does not preclude the responsibility of thinking faithfully about how one chooses to manage her reproductive life.
So, from the standpoint of viewing life –my life, a baby’s life, the planet’s life, your life– as sacred, my question is: what questions do I, as a person of faith, need to address for myself when family planning? Here is the list of questions that, at the moment, I think I would encourage my daughter to think about when she gets to the stage of considering her reproductive life.
On Not Having a Baby
- First and foremost – before birth control is needed -- Does your partner respect and listen to you? Do you respect and listen to your partner?
- No form of birth control is perfect. Pretty much every form of birth control leaves you a 1/100 chance of getting pregnant. Do take this seriously. Ask: What does this mean for me?
- Is my partner someone I can communicate with about my body? Does my partner respect my right to make decision about my sexual and reproductive rights? (And vice versa!)
- How am I comfortable managing my body? What are the health risks and side effects of my chosen method? Do I have a doctor I trust to address my questions and concerns?
- How does the form of birth control I choose affect the environment? (Packaging, hormones released into the water cycle, etc.)
- If I do accidentally get pregnant, how does my form of birth control affect the embryo?
- What is my stance on abortion, not as a larger issue, but in my personal case?
- In case of pregnancy, do I have the support network to make a responsible and compassionate choice about how to proceed?
- How do I envision my life? Do I feel called to parenthood?
- If I have a partner, what does he/she feel called to?
- How does having a child/the number of children I have increase my environmental footprint? How do I want to manage this?
- How will having another child affect the one(s) we already have?
- If I/we have trouble conceiving, what other options am I open to?
- Is adoption something I am open to? What are the politics of local/international adoption?
- Do I/we have the support we need to embark on the journey of parenthood right now?