Freedom is Choice.

During my senior year at Mansfield University, I took an honors course titled “Are We Free?” and never thought it would be relevant in my personal life. I mean, we live in America for freedom’s sake. This is the land of the free and home of the brave after all… right?

June 24, 2022, slapped the freedom clean out of my soul. For the first time, after so many years of classes that showed me how women are a minority and treated less than, I felt it. I felt less than, I felt inferior, and I felt utterly hopeless that I can trust those who run this country to protect my freedom. This was supposed to be in the past, done and over with thanks to RBG, Norma McCorvey, and countless other people who spoke out. Instead of codifying that decision into the Constitution, they ripped it away from us.

Now, I wonder how many people in this country understand what freedom is. The fact that Roe v. Wade was overturned and now Lindsey Graham is doing exactly what we feared and proposing a federal ban on abortions, I struggle to believe many people understand the concept and value of freedom.

In that honors class, the group of us came to the consensus that freedom is choice. It is having the right to choose between options without an external force corralling us into a decision. I believe that freedom is choice as much as some people believe in their God’s second coming, and my God would undoubtedly confirm that freedom is having a choice.

Growing up with insanely Christian relatives helped me understand that there are varying levels of Christianity. And none of these different levels makes anyone more special or more holy. It is a personal journey that helps them grow, supposedly, into better people. Christianity is supposed to spread love and forgiveness to all of God’s creation. I think extremist Christians hide behind the word of God to make their hatred and oppression seem like something else, but it is clear their oppression is unholy.

I have lost faith in many Christians in this country who preach under fear and hatred and exuded those forces across this nation. The Constitution specifically states there is to be a separation of church and state, so why are outdated, sacrilegious moral beliefs stripping away the rights of modern Americans? Did we forget that the freedom of religion means that Americans have the right to not believe in the same God, or any God for that matter?

I do not have the answers. The only answer I have is to actively choose love over hate, faith over fear, freedom over oppression. Leave the judging to God and work on loving, at least respecting, each other in this life.

No matter how you personally believe abortion stands in the eyes of your God, I hope as an American that you believe in freedom. I hope you believe in allowing your neighbors to choose their own path without being forced into one that better suits you. In the end, you can freely live your life following your beliefs, even if abortion is legal, but that does not mean you have to lawfully force your opinions and beliefs on someone else who lives a different yet equally beautiful life as you.

This November 8 is a vote about freedom. It’s one of the most terrifying and groundbreaking elections I have anticipated in my short lifetime because it will determine whether I get to keep a choice in making decisions about something that is not the government’s business. I might lose my right to bodily autonomy like so many people across this country already have, and I am mortified that my neighbors do not love me or respect me enough to keep that choice.

Unfortunately, Doug Mastriano and Mehmet Oz have made it clear that anyone who can carry a child will not have the protected civil liberty to make a decision about their body and their future (in Pennsylvania and federally across the U.S.). Some of my Republican friends and family claimed they will vote for Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman this November 8 because the right to make a decision over one’s body is more sacred than rooting for the home team.

This election is not Red vs. Blue. Not this year, my neighbor. It’s oppression vs. freedom, and I pray you choose respect for those who birthed you into this world who had a choice. I pray you go out and vote, and you vote for freedom.

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