This is a followup to yesterday's Qualm of the Day (QOTD).
My MWF qualm raises its ugly head every time I get in the car and go to my Curves workout. Should an elder stateswoman who is pro-choice be going to Curves? I even checked for the opinion of Randy Cohen, famed ethicist who gets money for his opinions via some syndicated columnists' agency. Mr. Cohen said that if we valued our political opinions more than we valued our appearance, we shouldn't go to Curves because of the founders' (Gary and Diane Heavin) contributions to the pro-life cause.
Wait a minute, I said, wait a minute, MISTER Cohen. What if I'm not doing this for my appearance but for my health? My cholesterol, my blood sugar, my physical strength, my aching back, my sore feet? I am past the Sex Kitten stage in life and on into my Sophia era. What's more, I am desperate for enough exercise. The local coed gym is too fancy and high priced for me; I'd rather work out with other Sophias, anyhow. And walking every day just doesn't do it for me; I'm not that great at walking in the Pacific Northwest's rain.
Mr. Cohen didn't bother to respond, so I'm on my own, once again: Ms. Kitty, resident ethicist. Rats! If you don't like the bigshot ethicist's answer, if it doesn't fit your situation, is it really okay to devise your own? Well, I guess that's what we Unitarian Universalists have been doing for a long time anyhow---------using reason and experience to figure out better answers than the orthodox answers.
I have at least one congregant who has a bumper sticker on her car which says something like "Pro-Choice? Don't Go to Curves". Yikes, I think, what would I say to this dear woman if she saw my car in the Curves parking lot? How would I explain without just sounding like I'm rationalizing?
This is on my mind every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. as I sign in at the Curves desk and take my place on the hamster wheel, excuse me, the circuit track. I chew on it all the way over and all the way back. Now, my congregant may not see my car there, but I think I need to be ready with an answer if the subject ever comes up.
I've thought of wearing a tee shirt or getting a bumpersticker with a slogan I picked up somewhere: "Abortion: Safe. Legal. Rare." But I haven't done it. I've thought of writing to the Heavins and telling them what I think about their politics. But I haven't done it. I've quit Curves on occasion, but re-enrolled when I just couldn't get enough exercise on my own. And I'm not much for confrontation; I'd rather look for the commonalities I have with someone who disagrees with me.
What would that look like? Actually, I think most people, whether pro-choice or pro-life, think abortion is not a good birth control method. I don't know anyone who would love to get an abortion. Women make this choice out of desperation, not to have a good time. As a counselor with adolescents years ago, I knew many girls who got abortions, either on their own or with their parents' permission; I transported girls to clinics for pregnancy checks and counseled them about their choices. I never encouraged nor discouraged abortion; I knew that an abortion, even a safe, legal one, had ramifications that would affect many lives, not just that of the pregnant woman.
Resident ethicist Ms. Kitty's decision: Health is the issue here. My health. Women's health, physical, mental, spiritual. Babies' health. We have to make informed choices about health and sometimes those choices are very hard and controversial indeed. I trust myself and other women and men to make the best decisions we can about our health, whether it's about disease or life supports or smoking or any other health issue. And only we can make those decisions; others cannot make them for us.
Amen, Shalom, Salaam, and Blessed Be.