“I’ve never really thought about this before.”
“I’m not going to change my mind.”
“When you put it that way, it sounds really bad to support it.”
“My mother should’ve had one.”
“I should change my mind on this.”
“I’ve had one.”
You never know what kind of conversations you’re going to have when you grab that clipboard and muster up the courage to QA. You never know who you’ll encounter, what their stories are, where they’re coming from. You never know until you just do it.
The QA (Question Abortion) project was introduced at the beginning of this school year by NCLN as an easy means for university pro-life clubs to reach their campuses. It’s quite simple really— just a clipboard, a questionnaire, and a postcard all yielded by a willing activist. This project takes no time to prepare, no money to run, next to no planning ahead. It’s really so easy.
Except for the part where you stick yourself in the middle of a sometimes fiercely pro-choice environment, exposing yourself to ridicule, rejection, hostility, or just plain apathy.
Why would we subject ourselves to this? I can’t deny that every time I agreed to grab that clipboard, I wanted to be anywhere else. It’s more than mildly uncomfortable to stand among busy students rushing to their classes, buses, clubs, to stop them to ask about such a controversial topic. I also can’t deny that when a person walks by, I come up with assumptions of what they’ll say, what they think. Whether it’d even be worth stopping them to talk. Almost every time though, I’m way off. You never know what kind of conversations you’ll have.
When I stopped Kim* to ask her thoughts on abortion, she didn’t know that Canada had no abortion restrictions, but she thought that that was a good thing for women. I asked her about pre-born women, and if they should have human rights and laws protecting them from being aborted because they are girls. After a while she said she’s never thought about it in this way and can see that a pre-born human’s life isn’t less important than a born human’s choice. She left that conversation questioning abortion.
When I chatted with Mark*, who thought 3 months was a good gestational restriction for abortions, I asked him if there’s a difference in humanity between a 2 month fetus, a 5 month fetus, and a born infant? He answered that the difference is in development, and I asked him if humans who are younger have less of a right to life than those who are older. He wasn’t sure how to answer but said he would think more about it. He left that conversation questioning abortion.
During a conversation with Jamie*, who spoke despondently and didn’t look up much, she answered repeatedly with, “it’s not that simple…” She spoke of her mom’s situation being pregnant at a young age and having to drop out of school. I asked her if she thought her mom should’ve aborted her, and with tears in her eyes, she responded with, “yes.” My heart broke hearing this girl’s pain, and all I could say is, “I don’t think she should’ve. Because she didn’t, you’re here now. You’re alive, and you’re important to people. I don’t know you, but I know that is true.” My words seem to have brought on more tears, and then with a quiet voice she told me and another club member about her own abortion. She shared her experience, her desperation at the time, and the pain she suffered with now, and all we could do was listen to her with compassion. At that point she didn’t need to know about pre-born children or human rights…she needed her pain acknowledged and to know that there’s someone who hopes that she’ll be alright. She left, hopefully questioning the low self-worth she held.
Yes Guelph has thousands of students, and it’d be impossible to reach every one of them, let alone change their minds or heal their hearts. But in order to make an impacting difference, you have to start somewhere. This year our club started somewhere, and we started with a brave face and a simple question:
“Hey there! Do you have a minute for a couple questions?”