Honoring the feminine divine means trusting women as full moral agents with control over their own bodies. Period.

In the past year's war on women and especially on women's access to reproductive health care, one of the hidden justifications is that women can't be trusted with their own choices, either because they're ignorant or because they're just not capable of making good choices for themselves. Look at forced ultrasound requirements before abortion: the people who make the laws will explain, time and again, that the procedure is for a woman's own good, so that she is "fully informed" before making a momentous decision. It's inside her own body - do you really think she doesn't know what's going on?

This perception of women as untrustworthy has deep roots in the Western mind. Whether it's explained on the grounds that women are more childlike than men, or more earthy and animal and hence less rational, the idea remains: men have full moral agency - the ability to make choices - and women do not.

Patriarchal forms of religion provide the ultimate justification: men are made in the image of God, and thus are capable of understanding moral issues and making informed, reasonable choices; women are somehow other.

When I began to worship the Goddess, I was flooded with an unutterable joy at the realization that seeing divinity in forms like my own meant being able to see the divine within myself as well. It meant seeing myself as a full human being all the time, as I am, not just when I measured up to some standard of ignoring my own womanness in order to become more like the (masculine) pattern of what a person ought to be.

I began to realize that deep down I had held an assumption that because men were more like God, they had some better understanding of issues that concerned God, and so their choices were going to be better reflections of what God wanted. If my choices differed from that, there was always the possibility that it resulted from my inescapable distance from God, the difference that came with being female.

Seeing the divine in a feminine form dissolved that sense of separation, of different-ness, that came between me and a masculine god. It opened the door to believing that my judgments were worthwhile, my discernment dependable, my choices just as valid as anyone else's.

For me, this realization was a broad one, restoring my trust in myself in a number of ways. But in the specific area of a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, I see the problem of distrusting women and discrediting their agency played out on a societal level.

I was having a conversation with someone about women's right to choose, and she said that she didn't have a problem with me having all the choices in the world available to me, especially because pregnancy would physically endanger me, but that she'd seen women who she thought were not being responsible, or were choosing for the wrong reasons, or whatever, and that those choices still needed to be regulated.

But who chooses, if not the woman herself? Who decides which choices are valid? Who has ultimate control over a woman's body and health care?

Learning to respect myself, to see myself as related to the Goddess, carries with it the requirement that I must respect others as equally expressions of the divine. I have to believe that every woman has the capability to understand her situation and make the best choice for herself.

Every approach to regulating women's right to choose is about externalizing that choice, taking it outside of herself, her conscience, her inner guidance, depriving her of agency and transferring that choice, those decisions, to someone else. Look at the way anti-choice advocates try to make a ban on abortion look humane by graciously allowing exceptions for a woman's life, or cases of rape: in every case, the woman has to prove to an outside authority that she fits one of the exceptions - to prove to the satisfaction of a doctor that her life really is at risk, or to give evidence to the legal system to adjudicate whether something was 'really' rape. Make no mistake, the people who get to make those decisions are almost always men whose judgment is being substituted for the woman's own.

Time and time again, people who say they object to abortion on moral grounds are really saying, deep down, that women are incapable of considering the moral issues involved when making the decision whether or not to continue a pregnancy. These anti-choicers are getting between women and Goddess, denying women's agency first and foremost because they're women.

Honoring the feminine divine means believing that women - like all people - are fully capable of grappling with moral and ethical implications of their choices.