Remembering to Listen, Learn, and Challenge Ourselves as Pro-Life Activists

– Brianne Gayfer, January 2015 –

I have over two years of experience, to date, being somewhat of a pro-life activist. As an extremely shy individual, I have pled my case mainly online, in blog form. Through countless discussions and debates with many people on the pro-choice side I have had my views on abortion stretched and reshaped over and over. I am still pro-life. Perhaps even more pro-life than I ever was before, but I think I have also gained a huge amount of understanding and compassion for both the pro-choice activists and the women who have wrestled with the choice to have an abortion.

Growing up I think I really believed that women who had abortions were evil and people who were pro-choice were crazy baby-haters, which is not all that surprising coming from a background where everyone I knew pretty much believed the same things I did. So I guess what I want to say here, to all pro-lifers, is that one of the most important things we can do for this movement is to start listening to the other side. Maybe once we start listening, we can engage in discussions that actually allow both sides to learn and grow. Both those for and against abortion so often speak defensively or in anger and I think that comes from a place of both sides desperately fearing what will happen if they are shut down

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Talking to many people on the pro-choice side, I’ve discovered something I didn’t really understand before: they are genuinely trying to help women in the best way they know how. I’ve spoken to too many young women coerced into abortions, because of a society that often presents abortion as not only A choice, but the BEST choice or, worse, the ONLY choice. If we can talk to each we’ll hopefully realize that we agree on some things – pro-choice advocates say that what they want for women is choices, but when abortion is presented as the only viable choice, no one wins. We don’t win, because a life is lost. Pro-choice doesn’t win, because there are no choices.

I think there needs to be more times that we can come together – both to support the other choices that women have (or should have) other than abortion, and just to talk. It is good to have people around you who agree with you, who can build you up and fuel you to stay strong in your beliefs, but it isn’t enough. To grow, to understand even your own position as a pro-life advocate, you need to engage with those who don’t agree. Not antagonistically, but earnestly listening, so that when your time comes to speak you can reply in a way that shows that you have taken the time to understand where they are coming from and you are not just arguing with your own preconceptions of what a pro-choice advocate believes.

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2 Responses to Remembering to Listen, Learn, and Challenge Ourselves as Pro-Life Activists

  1. Joanne Blackmore says:

    This is an excellent article Brianne. I remember when I gave birth to our two little girls over 40 years ago, who both were babies born mentally handicapped, blind and deaf with a 2 year life span, I did not know anything was wrong until they were born. We did not have all the technology back then to help us. In saying that, I am sure I would have birthed them anyway as they were a Gift from God to our family. They left an impact on anyone who came in contact with them, but caring for them was very difficult. I am sure this event in our life had a longing affect on our first child as well. Having been born 2 years apart, our family life was very different for a six year span.
    What I would do in this time of life is something I am not sure I could answer. Yes, I believe engaging with both sides is very important and get both stories. Each one is unique! All the best in your continuing study

  2. Kyle David says:

    “To grow, to understand even your own position as a pro-life advocate, you need to engage with those who don’t agree.” Alright, so let’s start this discussion. I think that abortion should be available because there are cases where the mother will die if they do not get one. Here is a story where a woman was denied an abortion, leading to the death of both the mother and child: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/savita-halappanavar-death-irish-woman-denied-abortion-dies_n_2128696.html
    I agree with you when you say that abortion should not be viewed as the only option in general. Unfortunately, in cases like these abortion becomes the only option. It is truly saddening that cases like these happen, but had the mother been allowed an abortion at least one life could have been saved.

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