In life we meet a lot of different people with whom we have conversations on life issues that may have us go from surprise, to indignation, to repulsion, to a-ha and maybe have us literally feel like jumping from our seat and shouting halleluya, or laugh out loud in irony or just plain humour. But…
In life we meet a lot of different people with whom we have conversations on life issues that may have us go from surprise, to indignation, to repulsion, to a-ha and maybe have us literally feel like jumping from our seat and shouting halleluya, or laugh out loud in irony or just plain humour. But thank God for the ability to talk and share our thoughts on issues. I was talking to someone I met recently and he brought up abortion, in his words: “I made her swear that should she get pregnant, she’d take care of it. I’ll give her money to get rid of it”. Don’t even ask me how I felt after I heard that but since that night, I haven’t been able to get the issue of abortion out of my mind.
Abortion is one of the issues in life that is highly politicized, and between what happens in politics and what happens in real life exists a battlefield mentality. An “are you with us or against us” stance takes root which birthed itself in the “pro-life and pro-choice” division. But I’ve found out that when we choose our side and arm ourselves with reasoning and information to support our choice, we relegate the women who have had abortion to the background and they lose their voice. Take the guy I mentioned for instance, entertaining the idea that he could take responsibility for the ex’s pregnancy was so out of the question for him that he went as far as videoing their conversation as evidence should she get pregnant and suddenly become emotional and refuse to abort it (he’s obviously pro-choice). Being pro-life or pro-choice is okay, we all have to choose what we believe in, but when we do that we make the issue of abortion hard to talk about. I read in the comment section of a blog where someone wrote that it isn’t wise to tell anyone that you’d had an abortion because they may use it against you when a guy comes to do a background check on you when you want to get married.
And it doesn’t stop with abortion, there are so many important issues that we can’t talk about freely. But then is it possible to find ways to shift the conflict of “for or against” to a place of conversation where it can be talked about without judgment or politics and maybe give a teenager the opportunity to ask for help on choices available before making a decision that could change her life in ways she would never imagine? When we take sides, when we stand on opposite sides of the line with the side we’ve chosen, what we do is we put abortion and the women who have had it in one box which if we can look closely is made up of different personal experiences that doesn’t neatly fit into that box. There might be the Catholic who regrets her abortion, the young woman who was raped and thought an abortion was the only way out, the born again who is grateful for hers, the wife who had to have hers because it was the only way they could save her life, there are thousand other personal experiences that are different as they are about the same issue.
Yes we have pro-life and pro-choice, but what if there could be pro-voice? What if there could be the possibility of a conversation where the focus is taken away from “us or them” to the reality of the experience. I know that there’s never a time when everyone will be on the same page, share the same lens, or know the same history, but when we shift focus to experience instead of sides we may hear things that demand that we shift our perceptions, and we may get the opportunity to practice empathy. Empathy gets created the moment we imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes and this way of thinking allows us to see our differences with respect, instead of fear. When conversation is possible, maybe a guy would know not to insist on abortion because he lacks the courage to step up and be a father, and maybe young girls/women would know to take extra care in sexual relations. It can generate the empathy that we need to overcome all the ways that we try to hurt one another. Pro-voice, I think focuses the conversation on human experience and it makes support and respect possible for all.
Image via The Sheaf