What the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Movements Have in Common

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What the pro-choice and pro-life movements have in common
Opinion

Before you click the angry face and scream, “NOTHING!”—hear me out.

I realize that abortion is a very polarizing issue about which most people have very strong feelings, and for good reason. However, in my discussions with various people over the years, I have noticed some things upon which both pro-life and pro-choice advocates can agree. In recognizing these similarities, perhaps these “enemies” can actually work together to accomplish some good.

1. We Both Want to Help Women

Woman feeling scared and alone due to an unplanned pregnancyAs a pro-life woman, I have been accused many times of participating in a movement that oppresses women. By advocating that women should choose life in an unplanned pregnancy, those with pro-choice views protest that I am putting my foot in where it doesn’t belong. They claim that this not only violates what they see as a woman’s right to determine what happens to her body, but has the potential to inflict a great deal of mental and emotional stress on a woman already grappling with a very difficult decision.

I’m not going to launch into all the reasons why I disagree with that point of view. You’ve likely heard them before. But I will say this: telling a woman who faces an unplanned pregnancy that she got herself into the situation and that she had better grow up and start dealing with it is not only unhelpful, it is patronizing and cruel. All of us make decisions we may later come to regret, so don’t be the person who shames someone because she “[sins] differently than you.”

However, it is intellectually dishonest to paint pro-life advocates as woman-haters. Those who support the rights of the unborn do so not only for the sake of the unborn but for their mothers as well. We believe that abortion harms women—not only for the reasons that you have heard countless times but because a woman who feels her only choice is to abort her child does not really make that choice of her own free will. Such a choice is not rooted in empowerment. It is an act of desperation in response to fear, societal pressure, or a lack of resources and support.

Surely we can all agree that no one should be required to make such a choice under those circumstances, regardless of whether we agree that to do so is a woman’s right?

2. We Both Feel Compassion

Person offering compassionate, outstretched handsI get it. I really do. I may not agree with all of your views, but I know that you support abortion rights because you care about that woman who is scared out of her mind, whose world has just been turned upside down, who feels she must choose between cherished dreams or ending the life growing inside her. She may actually want to keep her child but face rejection by family members, friends, or her significant other. Her pregnancy may be the result of someone else’s crime against her, not her own actions. Maybe this baby is planned for, wished for, but stolen by a heartbreaking medical diagnosis.

I would not wish such a choice upon my worst enemy. So, while you vehemently defend women in these positions, don’t forget that my pro-life views are founded in compassion as well. I want to support the woman in these situations every bit as much as you do—but my heart is bleeding for the tiny heart she carries. Please don’t disregard my compassion simply because it ultimately lies with the one who has no choice, rather than the one who wields the power to make it.

Surely we can stop vilifying and demonizing one another, and acknowledge admirable motives where they exist?

3. We Both Want to Reduce Abortions

Baby holding mother's fingerIf we are honest with ourselves, we all know that reducing abortion, regardless of its legal status, is the ultimate goal. We all know that it is an ugly band-aid, an attempt to undo something that is undoable. Once a woman has carried life within her, she is and always will be a mother. Erasing her child will not change that, and you cannot return her to the person she was. It is an experience that will remain with her, whether you think it should or not, and almost every woman who has experienced this knows it—whether she wants to admit it or not.

Liberation does not come from choosing abortion, but from doing all we can to ensure that it is a choice no woman has to face. Some who profess to be pro-life dig in their heels when it comes to measures that may help, but would require them to speak with their wallets, time, and energy rather than their lips.

But, surely, we can agree that saving the lives of mothers and children alike is worth it?

Holly is a tree-hugging, critter-loving writer and artist. Her husband and two red-headed boys are her favorite people, but when she is not busy with them she enjoys exploring the mountains, scribbling in a notebook, antique shopping, and spending time with a good book.