Human Dignity and Public Policy: Why Pro-Life Laws Matter
Justin Giboney: How’s it going? It’s Justin Giboney and representative, Trenee McGee. We want to have a conversation about the sanctity of life but also why laws matter when it comes to the sanctity of life. And so, we want to get into that conversation. There’s a lot of debate when we’re talking about abortion. There is a legal side to it. There’s a cultural side.
Some people are, it seems sometimes, all the way on the legal side or all the way on the cultural side. And I think it’s important for us to have a conversation about why both are important. But first, I think one of the things we can do is do some introductions. So, I’ll have ladies go first, and if you’d introduce yourself, I’d appreciate it.
Trenee McGee: Thank you, Justin. It’s an honor to be here with you and have this conversation. It’s really important and much needed. My name is Trenee McGee. I am State Representative of the 116th District in Connecticut. I was sworn in on December 22nd of 2022. So, I’m fairly new, but when I was sworn in, I became the youngest black woman in the Connecticut General Assembly.
And a lot of people don’t know this, but state reps, and depending on your state, we have to have jobs. So, my other job is, I’m an acting coach for kids ages 5 to 18.
Justin Giboney: Awesome. Let me say one thing that she didn’t say. She is a rising star, I think just in politics, and faith and politics together but also on the issue of the sanctity of life.
And so, I appreciate all that you do. I’m Justin Giboney. I am the President and co-founder of the AND Campaign. I’m an attorney. I’m a political strategist in Atlanta, Georgia. And the life issue for me was one where I think I was on the fence. Initially, I didn’t think about it a whole lot. I was raised in the church, had an understanding of the sanctity of life, but never really got deep into it.
And then as I saw what was going on, as I was running campaigns, doing things of that nature, started to feel like I needed to answer that question for myself a little more instead of just going along. And ended up creating the AND Campaign, but I also remember seeing my first son’s, when he was about to be born and seeing him while he was still germinating and things of that nature and saying, that’s a life.
Trenee McGee: Yeah.
Justin Giboney: Yeah. Tell me a little bit about how you got into the sanctity of life conversation.
Trenee McGee: So, I always knew, to be really honest, I always knew abortion was bad. I just knew it was bad. I didn’t understand the significance of it. The physical, the mental, the traumatic impact of it. But I knew it wasn’t good.
And I actually thought back to this not too long ago, in high school how they have, they make you debate the pro-life and pro-choice side. And the teacher just split up the room and said, “This is life. This is choice. Pick a person to advocate for it.” And my classmates unanimously said, “Trenee.”
And so, I debated it, and he was like, “I think that’s the first time that the pro-life side really held down their stance.” And that, I think, for me was one of the first experiences that I had with really understanding that this is a societal issue. It’s a cultural issue, but it’s also legislative. And I learned that in high school.
And then I remember in college, and I went to a school of the liberal arts, studied acting. And I remember saying I was pro-life and just someone, just jumping on me. And I didn’t, at that point, understand the complexities between the pro-life side and the pro-choice side.
I just knew that I agreed with life. And so, I had never really talked about it again, and I think just one night… And I think it’s important to mention, too, a lot of my racial justice passion is what really fueled me into my life stance, believe it or not.
And so, one night I just, I began to research information. I was consuming hours worth of information in 20 and 30 minutes. And I grieved November of 2021. I just wept for the nation. And that’s when God made clear to me, “You’re going to stand for life. And you’re going to do it way quicker than you could have imagined.”
And I think it’s important to mention that I’m in the Democratic party. I stand for God. And I’m unapologetically pro-life. And so, you can probably imagine what that’s like for me, but I stand for what I stand for.
Justin Giboney: Got to respect that.
Trenee McGee: That’s right.
Justin Giboney: Something I’m interested in, and you were on the Church Politics Podcast before, and we talked about this a little bit.
There seems to be a lot invested in what I consider the false narrative that the pro-life side of the conversation is just a White, conservative, Republican position. And that’s crazy to me because growing up, even though I hadn’t thought it all the way through, or, it’s not an issue that just rose up to me that was a big issue for me initially.
When I heard my mother talk about it, or I heard my grandmother talk about it or other women in my church, they were pro-life.
Trenee McGee: Yeah.
Justin Giboney: So, this idea, and I think, there’s certain groups that are pushing this out there a little more than it probably should be, investing in this narrative in a way that I think is not necessarily in good faith.
Talk to me a little bit about that false narrative that this is a White, Republican, male, conservative issue.
Trenee McGee: Yeah, I having grown up and obviously surrounded by the Black community, the Black faith community. And then, we have our, I think Jackie Hill Perry says, saints and aints.
But we were all pro-life. We were all, and we might not have known it was pro-life, but we knew we stood for life. We knew that if I couldn’t care for my child, then my grandmother would, or an aunt would, or somebody in the community would. We were solidly community-minded. And when I think back to when Margaret Sanger went door to door in the Black community, and she was convincing Black women to abort their children, the first response they had was, “We’re just a few generations removed from slavery. No.”
And so, I think that mindset of just continuously building a wealth of community within your own family, just that in and of itself, even if we didn’t sit down and talk about abortion, worked in opposition from that narrative.
Justin Giboney: Yeah.
Trenee McGee: And so, growing up, I always knew we stood for life and that, even if you had an abortion, you don’t talk about it because it wasn’t a good thing. And so that’s, that to me is something that I often think about.
And then, the pro-choice side has done its due diligence to create this narrative around diversity where, I myself, if I say I’m pro-life, it’s an immediate threat to the mask that they use to shield them from having conversations that are really deeply important to them.
” Stand with Black Women” and “Protect Black Women” and all of these statements have become so popularized within that movement. And you’ll see a crew of people with the Stand with Black Women shirt and they’re like, no black women around.
And I think back to Fannie Lou Hamer and even Jesse Jackson, politically they were Democrats and they really held down the basis of a party that they wanted to create for everyone, for there to be equity when it came to pay and primarily voting rights.
But they were solidly pro-life, and they hit, not Fannie Lou Hamer, but like Jesse Jackson, a few of them hit a wall where it was like, you won’t get far unless you take this stance. And that was pushed by the feminist movement, which at that time and still to this very day, is largely, liberally White women.
And that, I think if people were actually see the images of people who were pro-life, it would shake the nation. It would shake capitalism. It would shake the medical industry because, in my generation, some of my closest friends who’re pro-life, they’re atheists.
Some of my close friends who are pro-life, are proud to be Black, are young people on fire for God, are just so many dimensions and they go back to that root thing is, whether you believe in God or not, which obviously I do, and that God teaches us the value of life.
Science tells us it’s a life, so even the conversations have become so much more layered because of the different voices I believe that are being amplified.
Justin Giboney: And it’s interesting how, in some ways, the culture tells you what you’re supposed to believe. So, you as a young, Black woman are supposed to be pro-choice according to parts of the culture now. Even if that’s not the stance that aligns with your values. And one of the sad things that I’ve seen is that a lot of people are basing their opinion on this very serious moral issue, based off talking points. I’ve had conversations with people I consider very serious, intelligent people, but when you ask them about their stance, you usually hear two things:
You hear, “Her Body, Her Choice,” which we know is a huge reduction of the conversation. If it was just about a woman’s, and there was only one body involved and it was just about her choosing. I don’t… there’s no way in the world I would be pro-life if that was the case. The issue is there’s another body involved.
Trenee McGee: A whole other human.
Justin Giboney: So, that talking point isn’t realistic, doesn’t give us a full picture of what’s actually happening. The other thing that you hear basically is, conservative Republicans are racist. I’m gonna disagree with whatever they have to say. It’s basically what it comes down to a lot of times. And one of the things that I’ve said is that, on serious moral issues, one of the worst things that you can do is base your opinion on somebody else.
I don’t like them, and this is their position, therefore I’m going to take the other. That’s one of the worst things that you can do on a very serious issue. You have to weigh it on its merits. Any thoughts about like the culture telling you what your position is supposed to be? Especially for, I think, a lot of pressure, especially on young Black women of color in general.
Trenee McGee: Yes. And culture is significant. Ultimately, it’s what influences the decisions of a lot of young people. I saw a TikTok video the other day where a young man was escorting his friend to get an abortion. And it was just like, another day for them. It was like a joke, so those are the things that we’re also up against as well.
But what I’ve learned is… The legislative impact on societal issues. They run adjacent. So when you look at, even when you look, like I was looking at the statistics of women who were getting abortions before Roe vs. Wade, before it was legal.
And when it became legal, the marketing changed, which changed the dynamic of the social conversation, which then forced all of these women into believing that it was a safe thing to do. And so then, the numbers tripled five times more in the inner-city communities because of the marketing that changed the social conversation around abortion.
And I also think we’re living in a time where the gimmicky, quick hashtag and hashtags, the hashtag activism, and the hashtag lines are what’s drawing young people in, but the engagement or the conversation around what’s in a bill that actually not only impacts law but culture is really deeply what the problem is.
And so, I think when we talk about being a young woman or being a young millennial woman or being young women of color, if I, to be really honest, if I had to take a poll on how often we engage in the reproductive-rights conversation, and I do that because obviously isn’t reproduction. It’s, it’s very slim. It’s a very small percentage in comparison to generational wealth and getting your college degree and owning your own car and owning your own land. Those are the conversations that we’re having.
And so, when I look at social media posts or hashtags or commercials, or whatever’s being pushed out there on the culture, I oftentimes think about the conversations that I’m engaging in, and they’re never really about abortion.
It’s majority or, “no uterus, no opinion”, or “my body, my choice.” It’s largely about how we can make multiple streams. Those that’s really the discussion. And so, I think if culture was brave enough to move with the times, if culture was brave enough to, metaphorically, take its hand off of what young people are actually talking about, what we actually want, we would be shifting from a society that’s so focused on death of little humans and more into how we can make sure that people are receiving the quality education that they deserve and equal pay. And all of those other things.
Justin Giboney: Well, talk to me. Let’s, we’re going to get into why law is, why the law is important in this piece. Before we get there though, you and I are both people who have put in a lot of work for the Democratic Party. We’ve been Democrats most of our lives from what I understand. You’re in that position, too. Tell me how the conservative movement has made it tough, maybe tougher for you to, for people to accept the pro-life position.
Trenee McGee: Yeah, the conservative movement. Because I think that, I think the conversation is so much more layered than a person getting an abortion.
It’s 70% of young women and women of color, people in Connecticut, women, who obtain abortions in the state of Connecticut. It is paid by Medicaid. So, what does that tell us? Disparity. If we see statistics that tell us that people would prefer to parent if they had resources, then the conversation would become, how can we create the resource?
And oftentimes, the challenge that I find with my conservative colleagues or peers is resources and making sure that we’re distributing them equitably. And secondly, is racial tensions. And just to be clear, because I am Black and pro-life, I also experience a lot of challenges with the Democrat side as well. A lot of challenge. I experience racism as well.
But I think that with the conservative side, is the conversation has to, it has to expand. It has, no, it’s not. There’s no nuance to taking a life, but the stories around why a person chooses what they choose is nuanced, and when I talk with young women, these aren’t young women who are getting abortions because of their careers.
They’re like, “I don’t have a job. I don’t have a degree. I don’t… I’m homeless. What should I do?” Realistic things. And so, I remember I was talking to a legislator. And he passed a really significant bill, pro-life bill. And I remember talking with him and just exchanging statistics and he said, “Is that right?”
And I just could not believe the lack of knowledge around women in need of support, although he passed this legislation, that yes, to the pro-life side was a win. But to a struggling woman who didn’t understand how she was going to get by day-to-day, she needed more than just this law that was slapped down.
But the disconnect was he hadn’t engaged in enough conversations to learn that. And so they go hand-in-hand. Yes, I am pro-life and yes, I am open to having this discussion and my pro-life side, my stance isn’t going to change. However, how I can… the ways in which I might help you or address societal issues, I can… that can always evolve.
Justin Giboney: Right. That’s good. Alright, so, let’s get into it. I want to talk a little bit about why pro-life laws are important. There are some people who say, look, laws don’t change someone’s heart. If somebody wants to get an abortion, they’re going to get it anyway. And that conversation reminds me of something that Martin Luther King Jr. said, which was, that no, you can’t necessarily legislate morality to some extent, but he said, but you can regulate people’s behavior. And that because of that, laws create certain habits in people.
Trenee McGee: Yes.
Justin Giboney: Laws create stigmas, and they create boundaries for people, even if everybody doesn’t listen to them. The law does set some boundaries for you, and it shapes culture to a certain extent. So, talk to me about, just in general, why you feel like laws, when it comes to the sanctity of life and putting down those kinds of boundaries, are important.
Trenee McGee: Yeah. This is a really good question.
So, first I’d like to say all laws are about someone’s body. Every single law is about someone’s body and yes, we have freedoms, but even our freedoms are and have to be limited or people would be killing each other all the time. Laws are put in place to help and protect people and to keep them from danger and challenges and all those sorts of things.
What I found fascinating was a poll, I think it was with the New York Times, and they had interviewed Gen Z. I think it was young people from the ages of 18 to 26. I laughed a little bit, but it said with the ruling of Roe vs Wade, how do you feel? And the number one response was, “I think I’m going to abstain.” That was the number one response. The second was, I feel less sexually liberated. The third one I think was like, “I’m considering permanent sterilization. And the last one was, obviously, to use more protection. This was just from the poll that they took, and these were young people from age 18 to 26.
And the mindset of Gen Z has already began to shift to responsibility. Because I think in many different ways this is putting pressure on a nation. When you see vasectomy rates going up, this is putting pressure on a nation to be more responsible about the decisions and the actions that we take. When people were coming into schools and teaching young women about the value of their bodies and abstaining, abstinence, and if you make this decision, just know that there are consequences, whether good or bad, that comes with it.
When that was happening, it changed the way… To me, it implemented a completely different structure. It changed the way we address situations that we’re in control in and we have power over, and it’s either, there’s a split decision between, “If I do this, this is what it can look like, and if I do this, this is what it can look like.” And I think what people don’t realize is, yeah, sure you might not be able to legislate morality, but there’s a lot of evil being legislated. And you know what I see as a legislator, is there are bills created, there are laws created, there are laws implemented that go into effect within a year or less than a year, and people don’t even realize that they are then assuming a whole different way of living by a law or a bill they’ve never read before.
So, in the state of Connecticut, when we passed (well, they, because I voted against it) a law that, it’s a safe-haven law for abortion. You can travel from all over the state and get an abortion, and obviously that’s an issue, but one of my biggest issues with that was, is we don’t have parental notification laws.
So, you can be a minor, get an abortion on your parent’s insurance, and your parent not know, not be notified, and so that’s a law that was implemented. And I had constituents who didn’t know that, but there were, there are girls coming from Texas and all around the nation to get abortions in Connecticut. And what we have to understand is that, a lot of people say laws don’t do… Laws do change a lot. They are extremely significant.
And we’ve seen that in Brown vs. Board of Education, Roe vs. Wade, Plessy vs. Ferguson. We see how laws change the minds in and the ideas of our minds, our ideologies, our belief systems. We become accustomed to them, and I do think that there is a large sense of responsibility.
People say, “You can’t force me to…” No, that’s a decision that you make. And if you use the… if you drink water, you’ll use the bathroom, so, if you do this, this may happen, and ultimately, you may pay a price. And to me, obviously I think bringing life into the world is always an incredible price.
But I do think that we have to be more, especially we as a church, we have to be more aware of what’s happening legislatively. And I tell people all the time,”Stop letting politicians in your church if they don’t wanna engage with you in conversations that you know firsthand impact your church.”
I don’t care what party they are. Everyone can get up and grab a tambourine and sing worship and praise. Everyone can do that. Everyone can.
Justin Giboney: Especially during election season.
Trenee McGee: That’s right. Especially during election season. Everyone can get a little charismatic, and try to… But, ask questions, be a, make sure that what you are hearing from your politician is effective leading, is a moral grounding, even if you don’t agree all the way, you want them to know that you’re watching them. You’re watching their voting records. You’re reading the bills. You’re watching what’s being legislated. You’re watching what’s being implemented.
Justin Giboney: Just the wisdom and the depth of knowledge that you have on this issue and just the history of it, too, is really helpful. And I think that wisdom that you brought, you do it in such a relatable way that I think it speaks to people who normally might not listen to some of the messengers that you usually see in the pro-life movement.
But let me also say this. So, we talked about how laws, in regard to the sanctity of life, are important. What other laws that go with that do you think are important, laws that maybe have to do with housing and economics, right? Because on the right would say, “Yes, absolutely. We have to deal with laws,” but if we want to deal with the whole, the pro-life issue, the pro-life issue as a whole, in a comprehensive way, there may be other laws that we need to look at, too. What are some of those other laws that matter in this space as well?
Trenee McGee: That’s 100% right. And that’s why I take the pro-life for the whole-life stance. I always say womb to tomb because I believe if we empower women with resources and empower families holistically with resources then we empower her then make the decision to choose life.
And I’ll give you an example. Within a month, I got a call from three moms, all three moms chose life. This was prior to the conversation I had with all of them. All three moms chose life. All three moms were in need of housing. One of the moms had an infant, and she didn’t quite yet have anywhere to stay. One of the moms had an almost one-year-old. She was staying with family. And then the other mom was considering adoption but had her baby and was in transition of finding somewhere to live. They all were in need of housing. They all chose life. One of them was removed from her home because she chose life. And she was in an interracial relationship.
And that is housing, job equity, education. Even with… even resources like healthcare, what we see statistically is when people have places to go to work that are good and environments to live in that are healthy, they are fruitful and they multiply. And when people don’t have those things, then they oftentimes experience the burden or life challenge of them making the decision to get an abortion. And so, one of the things that I think is important is this conversation, even around maternal health and the risk that women are facing right now, specifically Black women, but women are facing infant mortality rate and Black maternal death rate.
And that is a fear that people are putting out there to say, ” But we need abortion because of Black maternal health or…” and those things are really important. But this is where we have to engage in the discussion of why are so many women dying at birth? And abortion is not a solution for that.
Abortion is not a solution for poverty. You can’t just terminate the poor. That’s not how it works. Conception obviously does not tell us how a person will be successful. The way you were conceived doesn’t tell us whether or not you should live or not. It doesn’t.
Justin Giboney: That’s the other thing. Are we really going to cast a judgment on what unborn lives are worth living? And that’s the question, especially for Christians who take that position and say, ” Well, they’re poor.” Are we going to say, because they might be poor coming into this world, their life isn’t worth living?
Trenee McGee: Exactly. Or that their value, that they have to contribute something in a way for them to be valuable to society. That’s another question. And I think when we engage in discussions it’s, “but they’re poor, they’re impoverished,” we’re basically saying, ” It’s a privilege to be a parent.”
That you can only parent if you are of a certain status. That you can only provide great parenting if you’re of a certain status. And I think, to me, some of the greatest success stories we hear are from people who come from impoverished or challenging backgrounds, and they make it in whatever arena that they’re in.
But what we have to understand is when we are empowering people and women with resources and not only diapers and formula, that’s important. That’s absolutely important but parenting classes. There’s a pregnancy center in the state of Connecticut. They offer an incredible dad program.
When we empower the family holistically, when we empower moms to understand what it’s like to choose between the best nursery or one that’s more affordable, school to prison pipeline. That’s an issue, so when we empower and when we engage in these discussions to me, I think that we’re adding on to not only the pro-life cause, but sustaining life., That is also very important. And we have to, to me, I think the pro-life movement is going to sustain itself and survive when we are ready to engage in whole life discussion, when we’re ready to be convicted, to feel uncomfortable, to be challenged, to be called out, to be questioned, and that’s all of us.
I say to myself, I pray to God all the time, “God, remove prejudice from me” because I would never want to cut off a blessing or cut off an unlikely pair because of who they are, because of their racial or economic background. And politically, a lot of my closest, my most powerful advocates have been unlikely pairs… have been completely unlikely pairs, and so we have to be, we have to engage in that. And it cannot be around the borders of party. It cannot be around the borders of politicians, and it cannot be around the borders of political ideology.
We have to rise so far above that, or one, we’re going to continuously make an idol out of political parties. And two, we’re never going to get to the root cause of why there’s even so much challenge on both sides to win this argument. Obviously, life always wins, but there is, there are women on the other side who have not received post-abortive care, who have not received therapy.
I got a call from a young woman who wanted me to help her to tell her parents that she got an abortion. She was, she’s 16, she was 16. And that was what she, and because she couldn’t sleep, she couldn’t function, her day-to-day, but she got an abortion. She was told by the clinic to go by herself, and she did.
I know they say, ” Oh, there’s a wait for…” No, she texted, she called for an appointment on a Thursday. They texted her Friday. The appointment was on a Tuesday, and she went. And then just wanted to know how, “Can you please, how can you, how can I tell my parents this? Cause I need therapy.” So, that’s what’s also on the other side of this argument.
And we as a church, I think we have, we’re in the greatest position really to actually help people heal.
Justin Giboney: And that’s one of the tough things. You bring this up so well. I think a lot of people on the outside of the pro-life movement see an arrogance and they see this, “You do this because that’s what you’re supposed to do,” but there’s not this compassion for what people are going through to say, “How can I understand you?” I think one of the things that we often try to do is we like to make very clear separations between the good people and the bad people. A clear distinction. The good people on this side, the bad people are over there.
But what that causes us to do, even as people who are pro-life, is not listen to what pro-choice people are getting at. Not everybody who’s pro-choice is a wicked demon person that just wants to see babies die, right? What are they trying to get at?
They’re trying to get at that this is the way, maybe in error, right? Maybe in a n erroneous way, they’re trying to say, “These people need help. These people are in desperate situations. How do we help them and not put something on them that they may not be able to bear?” So can we look at that side and say, “I’m not going to dismiss it as everything you say is completely evil and with malice. What are you trying to get at?”
How do you think we can better do that and just understand what the other side is actually trying to accomplish, even if we think their conclusion is wrong?
Trenee McGee: So, I oftentimes hear, “I don’t know what that woman’s going through, and so I just, I would never want to put judgment on her, or I would never want to tell her how she should live her life or how she should choose.” And honestly, that’s the truth. I don’t know what a person’s going through. Ultimately, no, it’s not my body. It’s what’s being terminated is not yours too, but your body’s being violated.
And so, what I learned from the beginning, and especially being in politics and canvassing going door to door, is people like to engage in honest conversations. People just want to talk, and they want to be heard. And so, I’d oftentimes say to people, “Listen, like majority of those who are advocating for more choices because they want women to choose life are people who stand for life.”
And I’ve given multiple examples, and I’ve said, “Listen, in the state of Connecticut alone, there’s been a block put on the advertisement on pregnancy centers.” And I said, “I’ve, I am one who, I’ve helped do work, and I’ve helped, I’ve volunteered. And I’ve brought women there because I really believe in their missions.”
And I run up against the same thing, a lack of knowledge. People don’t even know pregnancy centers exist, but I do think that we have to come forward with a mind of conviction. Compassion and conviction, to be really honest with you. Because one, conviction tells us how we should address situations and if we didn’t do them right.
But then compassion, to me, breaks the wall of these masks that we wear to say, “That decision is wrong. This decision is right. And this is why. “It’s more, there’s so many layers to it. I think it’s asking questions like I have: “So why do you feel like you, this is the best decision for you? Where do you think you can get those resources from? Where is your support, your community?” Just simple questions.
“Formula is expensive. You’re absolutely right here. Here’s where I know you can get some for free. You don’t know how to change a diaper. This, here’s a program that teaches you how to change a diaper. Here’s safe haven laws.” Just literally putting in perspective that it’s not the end of the world.
“But I hear you. I’m listening to you, and I’m doing so effectively. And I understand that at the root of your idea is fear, but here are all the solutions that I know can benefit you.”
And so that’s how, that’s really how it’s worked for me. And then I think, going back to people sometimes are like, but you’re… I had an interviewer say to me, “But you’re so young.” What does that mean? What does it mean that I’m young? Because right now women who look like me are the most educated by race and gender.
So, we are in pursuit of our college degrees, not abortion. But statistically, they say between, I think, 18 and 29 at one point where the abortion rate was increasing. And so, I thought to myself, “If I found out that I was pregnant right now, I would probably freak out a little bit, but my mind wouldn’t go to ending life,” but the resolve for a lot of young women is how can I finish this degree with the baby?
How can I get to class with the baby? How am I going to afford daycare? It’s realistic, real-life stuff. So just engage, asking those simple questions helps.
Justin Giboney: That’s good. So, we’ll kind-of end it with this, which is a conversation about culture. I find sometimes that conservatives are too worried about the law. “Let’s get, we got our Supreme Court,” they would say. “Let’s… Roe’s overturned. We’re good. Everything is good. Now we can work on these state laws.”
And we already discussed why law is important. But I think there’s also, that’s short-sighted if you don’t look at the culture because again, you can’t necessarily change somebody’s heart. We live in a democracy. It’s about persuasion. How do we begin to persuade the culture that this matters? Because at the end of the day, that’s a big, the value of life is bigger than abortion. But how do we promote a culture that appreciates life and the dignity of life at all stages?
Trenee McGee: Good question. I learned with my conservative colleagues and even with some of my conservative friends, when I felt most listened to, I was sharing statistics and facts. Emotion and experience was not enough. It had to be by the book, on the paper. And there were times where I had to say, “Listen, statistics will never equate to the human experience. Ever.” I don’t care what statistics you read, when I sit down and I talk with my grandmother about when she grew up, and her culture and her time, that to me supersedes any statistic I see in a book because I’ve heard it from a person who’s experienced.
And so, I think the hardness, there’s been a little bit of a hardness that’s grown around, “It has to be by the book. It has to be factual, and it has to be statistics.” And there’s truth to that, but when that becomes the sole way to create law, then we completely cut ourself off from reality.
And that is: talking to people that you might frame as a statistic, but talking to a person who is experiencing a racial challenge or trauma or abortion or even questions as it relates to church and God, especially with this generation. And I’ve challenged many of my conservative colleagues, and I’ve said, “Listen, we have to sometimes come out of the box of being so rigid, by the book, and fact-based, which being fact-based is important. It’s solidly important.
Justin Giboney: You’ve given us a lot of facts, too, but you’ve done it in a way that communicates.
Trenee McGee: Exactly. Thank you. And so, that’s what I, that’s what I’ve talked to my conservative colleagues and friends about… Listen you… It has to be so much more than that because If I tell a person, “Okay, I need an, I need to see the stats,” I am completely dismantling and I am shutting down their personal experience. And that’s what I see a lot of times with my conservative colleagues.
And I think there’s so much more work that needs to be done, especially after the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, especially because you got abortion funds that are flying women and excuse me, young girls and minors, across the nation to get abortions. And so, there’s so many safety nets and safe perimeters that we have to put around young women and around women that have that…
That really, to me, begins with conversations, being challenged, workshops. I’m obviously, being in the theater, theater workshops are incredible, but that, to me, helps people to really see the reality of what’s going on, what’s happening in society before we begin to implement laws because of Roe vs. Wade.
To me, I think that is extremely important. And I know with the Safe Haven Law that happened in Connecticut, there, people were predicting Roe vs. Wade overturning. People, everyone was predicting it, except for the pro-life me. Cause I was just like, for me, I, realistically, I wasn’t really thinking about Roe vs. Wade.
I was just thinking about how I can help women all the time. That was always, my stance was, how I can help women, if it overturned or if it didn’t, my work isn’t going to change. And so, when it overturned, then I said, “Okay, our work looks different. The way in which we have to approach it looks different. What we establish looks different with the support of what will come,” because, obviously, of the overturn, which that, that case in and of itself, legislation was extremely deceptive and awful.
Justin Giboney: Let’s very briefly talk about the gospel a little bit, how it ties into that. The law. We talked about the law. The law is somewhat compulsion. It’s the hob, Hobbesian, and Leviathan, right? The law is somewhat telling people what they can and can’t do. The gospel, you can’t be compelled, nobody forces you to become a Christian. Nobody forces you to accept the gospel.
How does discipleship play into this whole conversation about a culture and abortion and all that? How do you bring those together?
Trenee McGee: When I think of discipleship, I just, I literally think about Jesus’ relationships. I think of Jesus’ relationships with the 12 disciples and the women disciples. I’ve been doing a lot of research on women in the Bible, so the women disciples as well. And I think about how Jesus saw people as human. He never lied. He always told the truth. Always told the truth, but He always saw people as human, and He engaged in conversation. He built relationship.
Even Jesus in and of itself, the Messiah, knew that it might take a little work for Me to get people to trust Me.
Justin Giboney: He didn’t coddle, but He loved, right?
Trenee McGee: Exactly. He didn’t coddle, but He loved. And that is what we have to do in this time and season. I saw a statistic that said that 70% of Gen Z will go to church if you ask them. Sixty-four percent don’t because they’re not asked. And so, what I realize is, we oftentimes expect things from people or situations, especially people we don’t have relationship with them. How can I expect you to make this decision for your life if me and you don’t have a relationship? How can I expect you know you to learn who God is? I know I’m in the land of the living, and I know you’re over there struggling. We’ve never had a relationship. And to me, discipleship is really relationship. It’s engaging in conversation. The question that Gen Z, and I’m going to always go back to Gen Z because they’re the right now, but the question that Gen Z asked is, “What is beautiful?”
When I go into high schools and college campuses, I wear my sneakers. A lot of times conversations start off by, “I love your J’s.” That’s how conversations begin. I have gone from, “I love your J’s,” to, “Oh my gosh! You made me reconsider my stance on life, on choice.”
” I love my J’s,” to ” I need scholarship dollars.” “I love my J’s,” to “How can I get involved in politics?” So, it’s really just relationship. Little by little, you’re chipping away of the distrust, of the deception of media, of social media. And you’re building, you’re doing exactly what Jesus did.
Justin Giboney: Wow. This, my friends, is the future of the pro-whole-life movement. And I mean that, honestly.
Thank you for joining us. We hope you learned something from this. Please follow the AND Campaign. And please keep your eye on state representative, Connecticut state representative, Trenee McGee.
Thanks for joining us. Thank you.