This is post is by Erin Nguy, a canvasser for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.
After 10 years of a Catholic education, and four years at a Protestant Christian high school, I somehow managed to emerge a queer, feminist social activist.
How did this happen? Was I possessed? Was I being consumed by the liberal media? Was I dancing with the devil by listening to NPR at lunchtime? I swear, Mrs. “I-don’t-need-feminism-because…,” I was only reading bell hooks ironically. Did the fact that I believed in gender equality really doom me to fire and brimstone? Speakers and priests in my faith community constantly talked about how only the pure of heart, those who were truly unselfish, could pass through the narrow gate into heaven. Did that mean I had to be narrow-minded?
One of the first stories you’re told in Catholic nursery school is the story of the Good Samaritan. The lesson of the story is that you should help your neighbor, no matter what their religion is, no matter what their political affiliation, no matter what their race or their sexuality. That idea of social justice was pounded into my head: That everybody deserves at least the opportunity to be happy, healthy and safe. That’s why I am a feminist, and that’s why I am pro-choice.
Yes, I am pro-choice because I believe any person has the right to choose when or if they want to become a parent in a way that is medically safe regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or gender. However, the reason why I act, the reason why I get up and do my job every day, is because equal access to abortion and reproductive healthcare is an absolute necessity for uplifting and empowering marginalized groups. I could use activist buzz words, like “intersectionality”, “white privilege”, and “systemic oppression” to prove my point, but when explaining it to someone who doesn’t regularly watch Rachel Maddow or quite understand the prison industrial complex, I’ll cut to the chase.
Let’s walk through it together. Poor people of color statistically are less likely to get medically accurate sex education, and people who lack sex education are more likely to become pregnant. This means there is an alarmingly high rate of poor people of color who will become parents not by choice. These people, the most marginalized to begin with, who did not have the tools to help them decide whether or not to become a parent will have a harder time between economic and social classes. Without equal access to abortion, the people who start at the bottom are only pushed farther down.
Returning to the story of the Good Samaritan, the point of being on this Earth, the point of sharing it with others, is to uplift and empower those around you no matter how different they are from yourself. I canvass because I care about people, and I work at NARAL because I care about ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to be happy, healthy, and safe. When you make the active decision to be pro-choice, you are making the active decision to be pro-life, you are making the active decision to support and empower those living in struggle. Do not forget that trans, women, people of color, and queer people are equal human beings because those are the people who need your support the most. Step up for someone who is breathing right next to you.