Growing up, the Reverend Traci Blackmon was taught that abortion was murder. Everyone in her life, including her Baptist pastor grandfather, would have said so. Then, when she was 16, she got pregnant. “[I was] too young to be engaged in sex and definitely too young to be a parent,” she tells Mic, so, “I chose to have an abortion.” Blackmon’s family, who firmly believed abortion to be a sin, supported her.
“What we profess and what we live don’t always add up,” Blackmon, now a nurse and an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC), says. “You don’t know where you really stand until it’s personal.” Blackmon doesn’t believe she should have to tell her personal abortion story. But today, with abortion rights in the U.S. hanging by a thread, she’s telling it for the first time.
“WHAT WE PROFESS AND WHAT WE LIVE DON’T ALWAYS ADD UP.”
How did you come to start advocating for abortion rights?
The reason I came to fight for abortion rights is because it was my choice to make.
I don’t understand human life, soul life, as separate from God’s breath. I don’t consider every living organism to be a baby. That’s my personal, evolved thinking about it. But however I wrestled with it internally, those who cared for me, those who knew that I wasn’t ready for that, those who knew it wasn’t intentional and in some ways not even voluntary that I found myself pregnant — those people protected my right to choose.
How do you see abortion rights as consistent with Christian ethics and theology?
The right to choose is part of our God-given inalienable rights. As a Christian, the creation story says it’s the right of every human being to have choice — that God gave us choice. God doesn’t even mandate worship. God doesn’t even mandate obedience to God. Human beings should have the right to make these decisions for themselves, and women should not have to jeopardize their lives because they make such a decision. And we know there is no Supreme Court decision or state law that’s going to stop abortions. They will only impact safe abortions.
How do you see and respond to Christian arguments against abortion?
The argument I hear most often is that a fetus is a life, and that life deserves to be protected, that the fetus can’t protect itself and so society must protect that fetus. I can hear that argument. My issue is that this commitment and passion to life doesn’t extend beyond the womb.
“IT’S SMOKE AND MIRRORS THAT THIS IS ABOUT THE LIFE OF A CHILD.”
You’re saying Jesus had nothing to say about abortion?
No, Jesus didn’t say anything about abortion. But Jesus had a lot to say about love. And Jesus also never had anything to say about making people do what I want them to do. Neither did God. God said: This is morally right and that is morally wrong, you choose. And even if you choose wrong, I’m still going to love you.