The In Between

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Our national political landscape grows more polarized at a blistering pace. I had hoped that the bizarre results of the presidential election could be an opportunity for a bipartisan restoration of sanity, but it looks as if the opposite is happening.

In my lifetime, I have had the opportunity to travel through 40 states. I have witnessed so many regional differences that I believe it is a daily miracle that our national union persists. This nation could not have survived 200+ years if we did not value compromise.

I find it hard to imagine that one political party is so natural a fit for anyone that it could become worth tearing this nation apart. I have some view points that make me politically homeless, forever in the in between. I have no choice but to consider the merits of the right and left on some issues.

I am a pro-life Democrat. I abhor abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty equally. I am a lapsed Catholic, but my liberal Catholic education branded me with valuing life from conception to natural death. I grew up hearing that Dorothy Day should be canonized for sainthood, and I read the National Catholic Reporter weekly as a teenager.

On these three vital issues, I believe it is impossible to move forward without compromise between the right and the left. On the matter of abortion, I think it is far more important to reduce the demand for this procedure than to prohibit it. It is a legal reality that our right to privacy allows abortion. No matter how much I value life from conception, it is not my business if my neighbor gets pregnant, or what choice she makes. If she would decide to stay pregnant, I wish for social and governmental supports to help her and her family raise that child if necessary. I don’t want any woman who’d rather have a baby get an abortion because of fear she can’t afford to raise a child, find child care, or keep her family safe.

There are stories from the trenches of polarizing issues that we do not hear, tales of success despite ambivalence and ideological diversity. My life contains one of those stories. Almost sixteen years ago to this day, I began an unplanned, high risk pregnancy 2,000 miles away from home in Washington state. Who helped me find the services I needed to make motherhood a reality for me despite being broke and needing to free myself of a semi-hostile domestic situation? An informal coalition of pro-choice and pro-life women reached out to help me.  These women all maintained that I had the right to choose between abortion, adoption, or keeping my baby. The pro-choice women were open to assisting me with the all three options while the pro-life ones didn’t wish to help with the first option but knew it was my right nonetheless. I wanted to maintain my pregnancy and keep my baby, against all odds. These women all helped me succeed with my choice.

There is value in the in between. When we as a nation are so polarized, we salt this fertile ground.

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