Recently, someone I know reached out to me about this epiphany they had about about the pro-life movement. Formerly a pro-choice advocate, this epiphany could be one of the most extreme you could have politically. The pro-abortion vs anti-abortion debate has been going on for decades and is very heated. Extremists from both sides tend to dominate the spotlight. Abortion isn’t an easy topic to discuss in many settings. For a few reasons, I am keeping this person anonymous. The anonymity of the person isn’t important, but the context of what they have to say is. Enjoy.
What made you pro-choice?
“I was raised as a Democrat and my mother has always vocally been pro-choice, even when our church was not. When I thought about it again as I was getting older, I kept hearing arguments about liberty (ie. being able to control your own body and your own life decisions) and respecting women’s rights (ie. reproductive justice). I knew that I often agreed with many political stances relating to liberty and women’s rights so I thought this was a no-brainer: if I am a woman and I believe in liberty, I must be pro-choice.”
What were you led to believe in the pro-choice movement?
“The biggest one was that if you’re pro-woman, you have to be pro-choice. There were a lot of compelling arguments that would get me heated the most, about women in abusive relationships, women who were sexually assaulted, and women whose life was in danger if they went through with the pregnancy. I couldn’t imagine someone being anti-abortion in any situation where the woman either didn’t choose to become pregnant, couldn’t afford to be pregnant, or would have to risk her life to be pregnant. I was also told many times that if abortion were to become illegal, many women would die trying to have abortions in a number of horrible ways out of desperation. And that thought terrifies me.”
How did you view the pro-life movement from the other side?
“I don’t want to sound too blunt, but this is what held me back from looking at pro-life arguments. I saw the pro-life movement as a bunch of folks who rejected healthcare technology, who believed in conspiracy theories about abortion, who would bring up very old stories about how abortion was done before regulations, who would try to shove gruesome images in my face, who attempted to bomb Planned Parenthoods, etc. I’ve also believed that the pro-life movement is filled with hypocrisy because some people may be pro-life but not anti-death penalty, or pro-life but not pro-expanding access to healthcare, or pro-life but not pro-birth control. The image was very negative. I’ve had my fair share of times while volunteering politically and being told personally that I am a baby-killer, condemned to Hell, and my mother should’ve aborted me — when I’ve never even been pregnant or even helped anyone get an abortion.”
What turned you into someone who is now pro-life?
“I think watching the pro-choice movement go from “safe, legal, and rare” to “abortion is healthcare” and “shout your abortion” was when things soured for me. Over the last few years, I’ve met compassionate pro-life folks (like you!) who have made me want to look more into the pro-life movement and I finally have.
I also spoke with one of my local priests on the issue to try to understand it more from my church’s perspective and I’ve prayed for quite a while to have some understanding. Most recently, I found myself going down a YouTube rabbit-hole for months watching arguments of women and priests making pro-life arguments and I was especially blown away by videos I saw of Stephanie Connors (from LoveUnleashesLife) where she absolutely destroyed the strongest pro-choice arguments I thought I had. “
What would your response to your own former beliefs be?
“I think most of my response would to have to be focused on reprogramming myself to not believe that pro-life people are anti-women and pro-life women aren’t making pro-life arguments to satisfy the men in their lives. I also think a big part of my response to my former beliefs would be one about personal responsibility. Sex leads to babies. If you choose to have sex, you know there’s a chance of creating life. People need to be personally responsible for their actions and take the necessary precautions if they do not wish to create life, while also accepting that all forms of birth control have a risk of failing. Abortion should never be on the table as a “birth control” option.
As to women in desperate situations, I’ve only recently (read: earlier this year) discovered that there are organizations out there who are willing to help people get vitamins, get maternity clothes, get diapers, etc. If these groups had a larger charitable reach or visibility, I wonder if the desperate situation of some women might be lessened. I would tell myself that supporting wider access to birth control can help avoid abortions and that charitable organizations to help mothers and newborns do exist and just need wider visibility. If we can work towards a world in which no mother feels like an unexpected pregnancy is an overwhelming burden, it would be amazing. Imagine abortion not even coming across someone’s mind as an option!”
I understand that you were very swayed by a religious argument which normally isn’t how people have their minds changed. Can you explain your religious epiphany?
“So I did mention that I spoke to one of my priests about struggling with this. I’m Roman Catholic and knew that my politically pro-choice beliefs were inconsistent with my church. I wrote it off as a non-issue by saying “well I’ll be personally pro-life and politically pro-choice because I’ll never have an abortion.” I even left the Church for a few years, partially because of the tension I had in my mind over the issue. So when I came back, one of the first conversations I had with my priest was about politics and specifically abortion. He recommended that I continue to pray on the matter and that I read about Catholic Social Teachings and even consider reading Humanae Vitae. I promised myself to stay open to changing my mind and decided to read.
Reading Catholic Social Teachings and Humanae Vitae was incredibly helpful because I realized that there is such a way to live your life respecting life in the womb, respecting the lives of everyone alive on Earth, and then respecting their right to die naturally. Remember, I’d previously believed all pro-life folks were just sort of pro-birth and that’s where it stopped. But reading up on Catholic teachings made me realize there really are people, and many of them, who believe in life from a natural birth to natural death and are charitable, loving, and supportive of life on Earth in between.”
Is it strictly religious or do you also understand the scientific side of pro-life? If so, what epiphany came from that?
“This is something I do admittedly need to go further into. However, I do understand that when someone kills a pregnant mother, they can be charged for two homicides. So that logic follows that we’ve already admitted scientifically there are two lives in the mother’s body. I’ve also learned several things about how abortions may not be necessary in many situations because there is a medical alternative to abortion. I wish that was more widely known because it honestly blew me away to find out. But now, I know that I do have a blind spot here and I should dive deeper into the scientific side of things!”
I also understand that a moral argument was made to you on a common sense level and a morally consistent level. What argument was made that appealed to you?
“Remember when I said I went down a YouTube rabbit-hole for quite some time? I watched several videos of Stephanie Connors responding to pro-choice arguments. One was responding to the example of the life of the mother being at stake. Stephanie explained “good acts with good and bad effects” vs “evil acts”. Basically, her argument was that we should do what is needed to save the mother without intentionally causing harm to the child. We are mostly limited by technology in cases of saving both the mother and the child because we just don’t have the technology to save a baby before viability. But it should be known that there is a difference between choosing to abort and choosing to take an action to save the mother. Those actions involve two very different medical processes. Her example was that if two people are in danger and you go to rescue them, you aren’t going to turn back and intentionally directly kill the person you couldn’t save in the process of rescuing the one.
Her other really compelling video was about the common “violinist” argument we would here on the pro-choice side of things. This is the example where a woman wakes up, connected to a world-famous violinist by some medical gear and she is told that he must stay connected to her for nine months in order to survive. The pro-choice argument is that naturally, you have no business being this stranger’s life-giver for nine months and it makes sense that you would cut the cord. Stephanie blew my mind with her response. In this example, or in another example she used where you might shame a parent for not giving their child a kidney donation, Stephanie explained that blood and kidneys are in your body, to serve your body. Blood helps oxygen and nutrients get throughout your body and your kidney is there to filter your blood to keep your body going. The uterus, she said, is arguably the only part of your body that is not there to serve you. A uterus is there, every month, preparing to have a child. When there’s no baby, it sheds the lining and starts preparing again for a baby. The uterus exists for the sole purpose of giving life. So logically, the example of the violinist or the kidney donation isn’t even comparable because those are parts of the body that are in your body to serve your body. My mind was BLOWN! I just sat there and couldn’t think of a single decent pro-choice response.”
What is something you wish you had been told when you were pro-choice?
“I really wish I’d known more about the existence of the compassionate pro-life movement and that not everyone wants to verbally abuse people or threaten them, since that was all I really ever encountered. I wish I’d known more about how pro-choice language can be limiting because there’s no reason to tell a woman that having a child will end her career. We should just be collectively fighting to make sure that there is no unfair treatment of mothers in the workplace and that quality childcare is widely accessible. Mostly, I wish I knew there were intelligent women and plenty of diversity of thought in the pro-life movement.”