I’m vocally pro-life, and my friends have distanced themselves from me because of my beliefs. How do I help them see my side of the issue? I don’t hate women or want them to die. I just think that people should take responsibility for the life they create…
If you haven’t already, I suggest reading “Unwind” by Neal Schusterman. It’s a story about a world where abortion is banned, but children can be retroactively “unwound” (killed and have their parts recycled) if their parents change their minds before the child is 18. Both pro-lifers and pro-choicers got their wishes in this scenario, but as you might imagine, the world is still full of shit.
Since you are vocally and decisively pro-life, I assume that you are not opposed to volunteering for good causes. I invite you to do some of that in the next year. The catch? You have to volunteer for anything other than a pro-life, anti-abortion movement.
There are plenty of options to choose from: Legal Aid, Medicaid, your local homeless shelter, a food bank, a battered women’s shelter, a charity that supports victims of child sexual abuse, a suicide hotline, a sober tank… I’m sure that whichever nonprofits you have nearby will have a position that matches your skill set. Go support another cause with an open heart and mind, and pay close attention to the lives of the people you support.
I believe you when you say that you don’t hate women. But framing abortion as a binary choice – being responsible versus being irresponsible – won’t help your friends understand you better. To be honest, it makes you look like a jackass.
Fact: We live in a world where women overwhelmingly bear the burden of child-rearing and childbirth. Social and legal frameworks rarely compel “Dad” to “take responsibility.”
Fact: Unlike the legal protections fetuses receive, there are few laws or provisions to ensure the health and well-being of a child. Sure, there are some, but they are not nearly as comprehensive or as far-reaching.
Fact: Abortion affects lots of people, not just cis women. Trans people exist, Intersex people exist, LGBTQ+ people exist, and abortion impacts all of them, too.
You’ve probably heard all of these arguments before. Your friends might have even tried to share them with you. I’m not looking to change your mind here. I’m looking to help you connect with these people again.
Right now, you’re making abortion about you – your feelings, your beliefs, and your concept of what is “responsible” or not. You leave no space for other people’s feelings, experiences, and circumstances. Fighting for those who are powerless – victimised children, survivors of abuse, veterans, poor people, LGBTQ+ people – is crucial for two reasons. Firstly, it demonstrates that you actually care about what happens to others after they are born. Secondly, it helps you see where your friends might be coming from when they get exasperated and cut ties with you.
Give your friends space, and when they engage with you again, use the skills that volunteering will help you develop. Listen to what your loved ones say. Acknowledge their viewpoints. Empathise with them. You can disagree with your friends and still respect them. But abortion is an issue that is bigger than your individual feelings, which you need to internalise before you can move forward.
What’s the alternative? Finding new friends, I guess. People who don’t challenge you as much. But I get the sense that you don’t want to take the easy way out here.
Featured Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash.