Guest column by Vincent Lachina
Chaplain’s Note: Recently I was asked to join more than 50 other voices from the worlds of religion, politics and society to share my thoughts on the topic, “Why I am Pro-Choice.” Here is my response which is included in a recent issue of Catholics for Choice’s publication, “Conscience.”
How does a person who grew up in the Deep South, who as a teenager joined one of the most conservative denominations in the U.S., who was educated in a religious college and seminary, who was ordained in that conservative denomination decades ago, and who has served in ministry for 50 years find himself to be not only pro-choice, but a feminist? That has been the incredible journey that has led me to take such a passionate stand on reproductive justice.
Perhaps the most fortuitous aspect of my life’s journey is having been born at a time when great change was sweeping across America. As a teenage high school student, I was met face to face with integration and was forced to put my faith beliefs about equality into practice by supporting the African-American students who first came to my all white school. As a college student, the reality of war and its cost on humankind led me to become a Vietnam war resister on my campus. During my seminary days, the introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) brought me face to face with the reality of gender inequity, something which remains very real to me to this day. And as a minister in Kansas, observing the shocking and hateful acts of the group Operation Rescue against Dr. George Tiller and the women he cared for opened my eyes to the struggle for reproductive justice in America.
All of these major movements, in my opinion, have at their core one common theme: human dignity and compassionate justice. Over and over again, I have relied on my own understanding of the sacred scriptures I as a minister and believer hold to be true to provide my foundation for advocacy and activism. These same beliefs also lead me to be passionately opposed and outspoken about the abuse and misuse of faith and religion to oppress any people without exception. No one can lay claim to being a follower of any loving God and practice hateful acts towards others. Those two acts are at such diametrically opposing ends that there can never be reconciliation of the two.
Over the years, I have been often asked why I am pro-choice.That, for me, is such an easy question to answer. I am pro-choice because I believe in women, and in believing in them, I grant them the right of self-governance, trusting that each woman knows what is best for her and does not need my direction nor anyone else’s. It’s really just that simple.
Rev. Vincent Lachina has served as Planned Parenthood Regional Chaplain for the last 13 years, providing support to patients and community members in Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Hawaii. Additionally, Lachina works to create an active network of progressive congregations in the Northwest who support reproductive justice for women. He is an adjunct member of Planned Parenthood’s Clergy Advocacy Board, which provides guidance and advocacy on reproductive health and justice issues nationwide, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.