It is possible to be morally pro-life and politically pro-choice at the same time.

This article originally appeared on 01.22.19


The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.


It is entirely possible to be morally anti-abortion and politically pro-choice without feeling conflicted about it. Here's why.

There's far too much gray area to legislate.

No matter what you believe, when exactly life begins and when “a clump of cells" should be considered an individual, autonomous human being is a debatable question.

I personally believe life begins at conception, but that's my religious belief about when the soul becomes associated with the body, not a scientific fact. As Arthur Caplan, award-winning professor of bioethics at New York University, told Slate, “Many scientists would say they don't know when life begins. There are a series of landmark moments. The first is conception, the second is the development of the spine, the third the development of the brain, consciousness, and so on."

But let's say, for the sake of argument, that a human life unquestionably begins at conception. Even with that point of view, there are too many issues that make a black-and-white approach to abortion too problematic to ban it.

Abortion bans hurt some mothers who desperately want their babies to live, and I'm not okay with that.

One reason I don't support banning abortion is because I've seen too many families deeply harmed by restrictive abortion laws.

I've heard too many stories of families who desperately wanted a baby, who ended up having to make the rock-and-a-hard-place choice to abort because the alternative would have been a short, pain-filled life for their child.

I've heard too many stories of mothers having to endure long, drawn out, potentially dangerous miscarriages and being forced to carry a dead baby inside of them because abortion restrictions gave them no other choice.

I've heard too many stories of abortion laws doing real harm to mothers and babies, and too many stories of families who were staunchly anti-abortion until they found themselves in circumstances they never could have imagined, to believe that abortion is always wrong and should be banned at any particular stage.

I am not willing to serve as judge and jury on a woman's medical decisions, and I don't think the government should either.

Most people's anti-abortion views—mine included—are based on their religious beliefs, and I don't believe that anyone's religion should be the basis for the laws in our country. (For the record, any Christian who wants biblical teachings to influence U.S. law, yet cries “Shariah is coming!" when they see a Muslim legislator, is a hypocrite.)

I also don't want politicians sticking their noses into my very personal medical choices. There are just too many circumstances (seriously, please read the stories linked in the previous section) that make abortion a choice I hope I'd never have to make, but wouldn't want banned. I don't understand why the same people who decry government overreach think the government should be involved in these extremely personal medical decisions.

And yes, ultimately, abortion is a personal medical decision. Even if I believe that a fetus is a human being at every stage, that human being's creation is inextricably linked to and dependent upon its mother's body. And while I don't think that means women should abort inconvenient pregnancies, I also acknowledge that trying to force a woman to grow and deliver a baby that she may not have chosen to conceive isn't something the government should be in the business of doing.

As a person of faith, my role is not to judge or vilify, but to love and support women who are facing difficult choices. The rest of it—the hard questions, the unclear rights and wrongs, the spiritual lives of those babies,—I comfortably leave in God's hands.

Most importantly, if the goal is to prevent abortion, research shows that outlawing it isn't the way to go.

The biggest reason I vote the way I do is because based on my research pro-choice platforms provide the best chance of reducing abortion rates.

Abortion rates fell by 24% in the past decade and are at their lowest levels in 40 years in America. Abortion has been legal during that time, so clearly, keeping abortion legal and available has not resulted in increased abortion rates. Switzerland has the lowest abortion rate on earth and their rate has been falling since 2002, when abortion became largely unrestricted.

Outlawing abortion doesn't stop it, it just pushes it underground and makes it more dangerous. And if a woman dies in a botched abortion, so does her baby. Banning abortion is a recipe for more lives being lost, not fewer.

At this point, the only things consistently proven to reduce abortion rates are comprehensive sex education and easy, affordable access to birth control. If we want to reduce abortions, that's where we should be putting our energy. The problem is, anti-abortion activists also tend to be the same people pushing for abstinence-only education and making birth control harder to obtain. But those goals can't co-exist in the real world.

Our laws should be based on reality and on the best data we have available. Since comprehensive sex education and easy, affordable access to birth control—the most proven methods of reducing abortion rates—are the domain of the pro-choice crowd, that's where I place my vote, and why I do so with a clear conscience.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

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