Aw, it’s always nice to get some “love” from Jill Stanek and her crew. (Note: Ms. Stanek’s staff has shockingly bowed to reality and put Steph as the rightful founder of the blog. However, I think they chose to quote me for a reason, explained in the response below.)
Calling ourselves an Abortion gang means that we are committed to destigmatizing not only abortion care work but also reproductive justice activism. We are dedicated to showing that young men and women care about our bodies, health, and rights. We won’t take anti-choice bull**** no matter how many different ways they spew it.
..I hope that you’ll let us challenge you and that you’ll respect us enough to do the same..
~ Shelby Knox, “self proclaimed Christian” and creator of The Abortion Gang, March 31
The only problem: I didn’t start the blog. It would have taken one minute for Ms. Stanek and staff to do the research to find that out. But as per the anti-choice playbook, facts are casualties to one of several predetermined narratives, this one being that “real” Christians believe forced pregnancy is next to Godliness.
I know why Ms. Stanek and co. initially chose to put my picture next to Steph’s words. I’m a frustrating paradox to the author and her readership: I was raised an evangelical Christian and I proudly proclaim that my reproductive justice activism is because of, not despite, what I learned in the pews.
When I was in junior high my pastor led the congregation through a series of spiritual gifts one is given to do God’s work – which, my mother said, was to make the world more fair for everybody. I knew I had the ‘missionary’ gift because I wanted more than anything to travel and speak with as many people about their lives as possible.
After a documentary made about my high school activism – the reason Ms. Stanek thinks she knows so much about me – was released, I was blessed with the opportunity to give speeches all over the country. Most of the people I spoke to were women and because I was telling my story, many offered theirs in return.
I met mothers who were struggling to put enough food on the table for their families but hired a babysitter to come to a talk about better sex education. I listened to college students agonize about choosing between buying books and buying birth control and strategized with a young woman who’d started an abstinence club at her school. A sixteen year-old in Tennessee asked if I could help her get the baby her step-father had put in her belly out. I spoke alongside a woman who had been chained to the bed while she gave birth because she was incarcerated.
These stories and hundreds of others – the Gospel of my Sisters – led me to the reproductive justice movement. It’s main tenet is that women are sacred and deserve the rights and the resources to control their lives. It’s about making sure women have the right and the ability to access medical care – whether it be pre-natal care or abortion care or dental care. It’s about giving them the resources to parent their own children, to buy produce to keep their families healthy, and to drink water without toxins in it.
No God I was taught to worship would even tolerate me for sitting idly by while I know my sisters are suffering. No God I would want to worship would reward me for tossing stones at them for not living up to an earthly ideal. Because of my faith, I am convicted to take action and speak up for those who cannot.
I’ve finally fulfilled my dream of being a missionary. I carry the Gospel of my Sisters wherever I go. Ms. Stanek can put scare quotes around “self-identified Christian” all she wants – it just gives me one more opportunity to stand up and assert that true faith and service is using knowledge and experience to make the world more equal for all people.
Editor’s note: It is unclear who posted the entry on JillStanek.com, whether it is Ms. Stanek or a moderator. We do know that the points made in the above entry remain valid no matter who posted their “Quote of the Day.” Apologies to any readers who were confused.