The Right to Life: Is it for Some or All?

I recently read an article White, Conservative, Christian Friend—I Wish You Really Were Pro-Life, by John Pavlovitz, and it stirred some old feelings inside of me. You see, I stepped away from the church for many years. I still believed in God, and yet I was having an internal battle about the pro-life vs. pro-choice debates as it seemed to suggest that those who are pro-choice are less Christian or have less morals than others. On the contrary, I believed that some of us (myself included) have just experienced a lot of life and we know what it’s like to have our rights taken away so we could never do that to another.

In my case, after my sexual assault (years ago) I vowed to never let anyone I know be in that same position. So I made sure to buddy up with my girlfriends at parties or bars, and get them home safely. I also vowed to never let anyone take away a woman’s choice. I was stripped of the choice when someone decided to betray my trust and take advantage of me. I vowed to never let anyone feel powerless or alone, like I did. I also vowed to use my voice and speak up for those who couldn’t.

Sarah Lehberger pictured here in the gray jacket in the photo on the left.

So here I am today, to let you know that this divide that the church has created amongst its followers (based on the pro-life argument and most recently on one’s sexuality or gender), has put us in an interesting time where we no longer live in “one nation under God”. So many have fled the church at a time when we so desperately need faith and hope. So many feel excluded and deprived of the same basic rights guaranteed to others. So many feel less than, because we have told them that straight, white fetuses matter far more than they do or that the way that they love is wrong. And I'm not talking in generalities or assuming that all people and all churches have done this. Please understand that due to recent events certain things need to be pointed out.

We have pro-life marches that have garnered national support for years. And yet, we can’t seem to understand why people would march because black lives matter, or why we fight for women’s or LGBTQIA rights through peaceful protests. All of those groups are pro-life in their own way for all intents and purposes.

So, I want to challenge you and your right to life, which is largely based on your beliefs. Is it greater than the right to life of…

  • the muslim neighbor who just moved in next door.

  • your LGBTQIA relative who wants marriage equality.

  • a black man walking down the street who is shot removing a mobile device from his pocket.

  • the Mexican or refugee who flees their country and wants to find freedom in ours.

  • your child’s friend who eats free school lunch while she remains in foster care and is up for adoption.

Because you were born without choice, like the examples above. Each of us deserves dignity and justice as our human rights and fundamental freedoms would suggest. That child in foster care wants to be loved and valued just as much as your neighbor or the man walking down the street. Each of these examples above wants someone to advocate for their life and rights just as much as a fetus in the womb.

Maybe you resent some people in our country due to your life experiences, or perhaps you were never dealt a fair deal? We all have our struggles and imperfections. This life is certainly not easy. And yet, when I consider advocating for life… (to me) that means ALL human life. We must not choose which lives get more benefits, more privilege or rights. We must not deprive other human beings of the same dignity and beauty that we seek, as mentioned in the mission for the March for Life. So I hope that those of you who will march for the right to life this week will do so for black lives, muslim lives, LGBTQIA lives, women’s and children's lives, immigrant and refugee lives, and all of us - if you truly and deeply care.

I urge you to think about whether or not you have been truly #prolife in your words and actions, or if you have been #probirth when you have marched or taken a stand in the past. What our world needs now is more people who are advocating for all lives (including those that live outside of the womb) no matter their race, religion, sexuality, ability, ethnicity and more.

I have heard many remarks over the last few weeks, some of which questioned why I took part in the Women’s March on Washington this past Saturday or why women were marching at all. I wrote about it some last week in my post, A Message for the Advocates and Activists Among Us. I chose to march because I believe in honoring the champions of human rights and equality who came before me. I marched because my mission is to help women and moms be unstoppable and thrive, and this dream cannot be achieved until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. I marched because I want to live in a country (and world) where our differences are celebrated, and where we can find a way to bridge our many divides while finding our way back to a more loving, peaceful and united community.

What I want us all to realize (in order to heal this divide on pro-life vs. pro-choice), is that we need to talk about how many of us fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t believe that anyone wants women to die, just as much as I believe that they don’t want to see babies or unborn fetuses die. I have to believe that we all want to reduce the number of abortions and the need for them, and that would require positive and progressive change. We need access to sex education in schools and outside. We need access to affordable or free contraception. We need access to health care that helps reduce abortions and supports women before, during and after an unintended pregnancy. We need to educate our youth on sexual assault and put an end to the abuse and disdain of women and girls. We need to implement paid family leave policies and flexible work arrangements. We need to look closer at our local foster care and adoption programs, as well as advocate for more education and laws making it easier for families to adopt. My friend, Terra, shares some facts, research and action steps that may help to guide you here.

I don't know if any of this will resonate with you. I truly hope it will expand your thoughts and perspective. I chose to come back to my faith in my early 30’s and to believe in the impossible. If you also believe in something larger than yourself and in the good of humanity, than I hope that you read this as my plea for help. We can heal this divide. Let’s work together for human rights and gender equality, and by doing so we won’t need to choose one side over the other. Wouldn’t it be nice to be one nation that's indivisible again?

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Let's find real solutions to the problems that plague us. We can choose to love our fellow human beings by granting them the rights and freedoms that they deserve - now and in the future! When we choose love, we can experience a more peaceful and united society because ALL human beings will feel valued and will know that they matter.

Isn’t that what we really want for ourselves, our children and our communities anyway?

Sarah Lehberger

Easton, CT

Sarah Lehberger is a photographer based on the shoreline of Connecticut, just 90 mins from New York City, in the small town of Easton. She specializes in photography that celebrates working Moms and their families. She is also a Co-Founder of She Will Thrive, providing business coaching, retreats and workshops to women entrepreneurs, creatives and small business owners.

Sarah's career started in the news and entertainment industry. A storyteller at heart, she began photographing weddings in 2003 while also working full time at Getty Images, NY in their editorial department. Sarah enjoyed the fast-paced and glamorous events she would collaborate on, yet deep down she was craving more purpose driven work. In 2005 she decided to leave the corporate world to launch her full time wedding business, which received numerous awards and features throughout the industry.

In 2013 Sarah rebranded her business so she could continue her mission to celebrate women, with a new focus on mothers. She feels strongly about empowering women and creatives to succeed, and has been a speaker at conferences such as ShootDotEdit's Unlimited Happiness Tour, Inspire Photo Retreats, as well as a past coach and mentor for Team X Academy.