Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jill's question: Have you ever been on the other side of the fence?

Jill Stanek asks the question, and you can read all of the responses
on her blog. As for me, my story is here. I'll just share some of the responses:

lauren says: I was pro-choice. Basically, I thought that “women have to have a choice” even though I personally would not have had an abortion. ....What changed my mind was the way “pro-choice” people acted when I found out I was pregnant. Without exception, they pushed abortion. Planned Parenthood, who I thought helped women with “reproductive healthcare” would provide nothing but an abortion. They “referred” me to a doctor who wasn’t even taking new patients.

I had a terrible pregnancy, which required many ultrasounds. There was no question that there was a human being inside of me, not a “clump of cells.” Then my water broke just shy of 23 weeks and I was given the option to do nothing and let my son die. I couldn’t even imagine anyone NOT fighting for the life of her child. Of course, we chose to seek medical intervention, and I was able to stay pregnant for another 7 weeks!

Right before my son was born I was given the opportunity to tour the NICU so that I’d have an idea of what to expect. During the tour, the showed me a little girl who had been born at 25 weeks. She was in her blanket covered incubator and just looked so tiny, and so perfect. I remember thinking, dear God, people can go down to the planned parenthood down the street (it aborted up to 26 weeks) and kill a baby that looks just like this one.

Mary Lee says: I was pro “choice.” I thought it was my body, my business, and that if it was an early termination, it was virtually without consequence. I sincerely thought pro-lifers were just being judgmental, nosy, and controlling.

Then I got pregnant. I realized what pregnancy is, what an unborn baby is. I was a senior in college, and getting ready to go to grad school. I knew having a baby would change my plans, but I simply could not go through with an abortion. I did my research; I asked questions. This was my baby, no doubt, not a blob of cells, not “tissue”….it was my baby. .... I had a miscarriage.

Then, I became pregnant “accidentally” six years later. Watching her on the ultrasound, her heart beating and flickering like a light at only 8 weeks, my heart was changed forever. These are babies, beautiful little lives. They should be loved and protected. They are not part of a woman’s body…they are separate people, with their own bodies. I did more research, for ten years….biology, psychology, sociology. And there is NOTHING true or good about abortion. It is based on lies and obfuscation. I am sorry I was duped. There is nothing good or life-affirming about abortion. My love for my babies changed me.

Kay says:Lauren, I was like you….I believed that I would never personally go through an abortion but thought that it was vital that other women should have that “choice”. In fact, I screamed at a radio show one time when they were interviewing Randall Terry. My typical response was “Oh yeah? So are YOU going to raise all these ‘unwanted’ children?” By the way, I had young kids at the time.

Somewhere along the way though (and don’t remember exactly when), I changed over and I can only assume what really got me was that I saw a picture of the aborted baby. I don’t remember anyone challenging me in discussion on my views. ....

The more research I did, the more I realized how many lies it took to prop up Planned Parenthood, the legislation the whole industry and how much a lie all that “choice” slogan truly was. ....

Then I began my road back to the catholic faith. I started helping out at my local catholic youth group I was once a part of. We did a whole night on pro-life issues. I had to to research on what the abortion procedure was actually like. I was turned on to Live Action and I saw all of the other shady things that were going on at Planned Parenthood. I realized the money that was made on the lost lives of unborn children. .... I know women who suffer 20-30 years later with their decision. Its not as simple. They dont skip out of the clinic like nothing happened. I realized the culture of death in our society. How we treat infants that were born alive after abortion procedures. How in some places they dont see it neccessary to treat pre-mature infants (below a certain number of weeks) because of the cost outweighing the benefits (they will most likely die… ect). Making abortion legal allows for a lot of ugliness. ....

TheChristianHippie says: I was pro-”choice” in middle school/high school.Someone asked me if I was pro-choice and I asked what that was and they said, “It means you believe the government can’t force you to have a baby if you don’t want to.” I immediately imagined that there was some bill in congress trying to make a law that government officials could come into your home, detain you, IVF you against your will, and force you to have a baby ‘for the state’! “Oh heck yeah I’m pro-choice!” I responded. And argued against that imaginary scenario for years after.

.... Years later in high school I finally heard the word abortion. “What’s that?” I ask. “It means terminating a pregnancy.” I knew from elementary school and middle school health classes and seeing/knowing pregnant mothers (including some classmates) what pregnancy was, and I was always interested in child-development. I could study for hours every detail of every life stage in our development. It boggled my mind, “How do you ‘terminate’ a pregnancy once it’s already started?” They stumbled and stuttered and finally gave up, they simply couldn’t admit it involved the death of the baby, and I had to research it to find out.

I WAS HORRIFIED! ABORTION WAS KILLING A PRE-BORN BABY! I saw D&E’s, read the medical terminologies, saw the results of D&E’s and D&X’s, and finally asked in shock, “Is this the ‘choice’ I’ve been defending??? Is this really what happens? Are people really doing this to their children???” They refused to discuss it. They truly thought the violent death of these tiny people was irrelevant to the cause! I knew then what I had been defending. All this time. ‘choice’ meant ‘access to abortion’ and insuring that women could commit murder at whim. I searched government websites and there were no bills trying to be passed that would force pregnancy on women. Women were still getting pregnant the NATURAL way, through sex, either unprotected or using failing “birth-control”. No one was strapping them to tables in government facilities and IVFing them as they screamed and kicked. I had been deceived by the pro-death’s carefully crafted rhetoric. I was Pro-LIFE from then on. ....

Cecilia says: I was pro-choice as a teenager. I was taught all the propaganda: it’s not a baby, it’s only a blob of tissue, so many desperate women die because they can’t get legal abortions, it’s so cruel to force women to have babies they don’t want, etc. etc. etc. This swayed me.

But as I got older, and learned more, my ideas about abortion slowly changed. .... Slowly over the years, I learned more about fetuses. .... The more they seemed like little miniture people, the harder it became to justify killing them, not even to solve the problems of their mothers. Not that I don’t care about the mothers, I do. It just seems that there’s got to be a better way to solve their problems than by killing their babies.

Also, I met some pro-life people in person and quickly noticed they didn’t fit the stereotype that pro-abortion people tried to portray them as. Instead of being monsters whose only goal was to control and punish women, many of them were caring people. In talking to them, I clearly saw the soundness of their arguments.

Nowdays the pro-aborts and feminists tell their people to never talk to pro-lifers. They say that anyone that against women’s rights isn’t worth talking to. But I think the thing they really fear is that women will see these people aren’t the monsters the pro-aborts try to portray them as, and that they will actually hear the soundness of the pro-life argument. They’re afraid they’ll lose people (like they lost me). In a democratic society, too much of that and Roe v Wade eventually goes bye-bye.

I also learned that the numbers of women who supposedly died from illegal abortion in the pre-Roe days was greatly exagerated. ... Then it dawned on me; I’d never known anyone who’d died that way, nor had I heard anyone tell me that they’d known anyone who died that way. .... There were no newspaper accounts of such deaths in my community, no girls who suddenly stopped coming to my school amid talk of her abortion death, and no memorial services for girls or women who died from illegal abortion in all the years I was growing up. If all these massive numbers of women all across the country had died this way, how come I never learned the name of one of them, or the names of anybody their life touched? That’s when I realized that those death figures really were exagerated.
I am now extremely pro-life.

Here's a conversion in the opposite direction. Sort of.

Elsa says: ....For me, what made me change my mind was A) realizing what making abortion illegal actually means for women I know and love, B) talking to women whose abortions were necessary, and C) being pregnant.

For me, the “what about the unborn?” issue was reconciled when I was pregnant. I’m not going to be able to explain that in a satisfactory way to you, especially not online, but maybe someday you will have a conversation with someone like me. Maybe you’ll realize that I’m not evil or, as Sydney insists, “gleefully tearing babies limb from limb.” Maybe I can explain to you then how being pregnant showed me the amazing coexisting truths of “this is something that is, and yet is not. This is something liminal.”

I embrace the liminality of the experience of being pregnant. But like I’ve said multiple times now, that’s not what this conversation is about.

Later she explains further:

As I said before, I believe in liminality. I believe we can be in more than one place at once. I believe we can be both alive and not alive, good and not good, alone and not alone. A good example of this paradox is the Trinity, which allows us to believe that Christ is both God and man at once.
Do I believe that abortion kills a living human being? Yes.
Do I believe that is the same thing as murdering someone? No.
You can call it irrational; I call it making sense of the human experience.

(From an online dictionary: lim·i·nal·i·ty–noun Anthropology .the transitional period or phase of a rite of passage, during which the participant lacks social status or rank, remains anonymous, shows obedience and humility, and follows prescribed forms of conduct, dress, etc.)

CT says: Elsa said: I do not believe that early abortions (which make up the vast percentage of abortions that are performed in the United States) kill a baby. If I believed that, I would be pro-life.
I used to be pro-choice. I am now pro-life b/c of that exact statement. I was always sort of unthinkingly pro-choice. I didn’t have a lot of contact with pro-life people and assumed that the stereotype was true – religious zealots who wanted to force women to bear children against their will. People who favored this nebulous “potential life” over a “fully actualized” human being. No one “normal” or “educated” was actually pro-life.

I went to a Catholic college and the presence of so many pro-lifers initially made me double down on my pro-choice beliefs. Here I was face to face with these ignorant people, and by God I was going to give them a piece of my mind. (I was the one who passed by the little cemetary displays and wanted to stomp all over the stupid imaginary graves). As I spoke with these people, though, I found two things. 1. They were certainly not ignorant. 2. All of my arguments were absolutely useless if the fetus was a human life. They were really distractions b/c if I had any intellectual honesty whatsoever, I had to acknowledge the internal logic of the pro-life position. If the fetus is a life, then any argument for abortion (poverty, circumstance, etc) that would not apply to an infant or toddler was completely irrelevant.

I assumed that I just hadn’t heard the right argument (having never thought about it much at all) so I went in search of “the winning logic.” I was all over blogs on both sides, becoming increasingly frustrated. Finally I just came back with, “well I don’t think it is a life/a baby so ….so there.” But I wasn’t comfortable in that spot. Was it a baby the second before it was born….surely then. Well what about a week? What about two? I played around w/ all sorts of lines – viability (but that changes), hearbeat, brain waves. Ultimately I couldn’t get passed the idea that they were arbitrary. Then I tried out the “Well it’s probably wrong, but maybe occasionally necessary” camp.

I just couldn’t live under such easily collapsible principles – ones that honestly left all human life in jeopardy. The fetus isn’t a life b/c it’s a fetus, but don’t worry all other human life is safe. We would never eliminate the old, the infirm, or the otherwise inconvenient so long as the human is question is at least 9 mo past conception and breathes air. It doesn’t work. So I became secretly pro-life. Took me a long time to come out of the closet. Lost a bunch of friends who just couldn’t fathom this – and I understand why. I would have done the same thing if I had never been exposed to pro-life people.
And here I am now – whole heartedly pro-life.

Jill Stanek says: As for me, I wasn’t always pro-life. Abortion was legalized in 1973, and I drove a friend for an abortion at a PP in Chicago in 1974, when we were both high school seniors. ....All I can say is I didn’t think about or understand abortion then. ....

By the time I went to work at Christ Hospital I had returned to my faith and knew I didn’t want to participate in abortion, that was certain. Beyond that, I’m not sure how committed I was. Holding a dying aborted baby boy for 45 minutes instantly converted me into a pro-life activist.

Amy1 says: I am 52 years old. In 1971 and ’72, when abortion was being debated in D.C., I wrote letters to my congressional delegation begging them to defend the unborn. My mom kept a copy of a Catholic newsletter that had our delegation’s written responses to such letters on the back cover. I still have that and it has helped define my legacy. ....

In my teens and early 20′s I rebelled against everything and participated in a loose and destructive lifestyle. At that time I tried to adopt a pro-choice “I don’t like it but I can’t tell you what to do ” attitude. It didn’t work. Thank God I did not become pregnant during that confusing time.

I became a committed Christian at age 25 and the pro-life mantle that I inherited from my mother manifested fully. I began to pray at the abortion clinic immediately. The woman who was doing the abortions is a friend of mine now; converted and prolife. I hope SHE writes a book; it will give all who stand and pray without giving up a renewed hope that God is ALWAYS working.

I am now on staff with a national pro-life ministry. ....

So a conversion in both directions, and the only purely religious choice-to-life story so far among the comments.

What struck me about the choice-to-life conversions is that they were based on gaining additional knowledge and experience. The life-to-choice I find bewildering, since I can understand the idea of liminality -- she believes that at some point in pregnancy the fetus undergoes a total shift in status from not-human (or at least not worth defending) to human (or worth defending). Then she turns around and says, "I believe we can be in more than one place at once. I believe we can be both alive and not alive, good and not good, alone and not alone. A good example of this paradox is the Trinity, which allows us to believe that Christ is both God and man at once." Talk about basing your stand on beliefs and not facts! Her whole argument seems to be based on finding a way to adhere to the beliefs she already had about abortion being a necessity rather than a choice and legalization being beneficial to women she loves personally. Though I'd be interested in knowing if she believes the current abortion regime is better for women in general, and not for the specific women she loves, who evidently are of a mindset of embracing abortion.

If you want to share your story in the comments, go ahead.

PS. So far only Katie has shared her story, and it's amazing. You can read it here.


Katie said...

I was pro-choice. I even marched for abortion in the absurdly named "March for women's lives." I wrote some about my change in belief a few years ago-

Christina Dunigan said...

Wow, Katie! That's powerful! I'm turning it into a link for you. And I would encourage everybody to visit it.

Katie said...

Thank you, Christina!