Thursday, August 14, 2014

My positive pro-life experience

This was written at the end of the conference, it just took me some time to post it to my blog.

Two nights ago I finally made it to the east coast of our beautiful country, landing in Charlottetown on Wednesday evening – a dream come true. My Nanna is from PEI and I’ve long wished to visit, but I never could have imagined what would eventually bring me here.

A conference titled “Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution” and touted as the “first international abortion conference of its kind” was held at the University of Prince Edward Island on August 7 and 8, 2014 and I attended. I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty certain I was the only pro-life person registered for the conference.

I want to focus on one of the themes that I heard repeated, and counter it with my personal story, or ‘narrative’ as was the common term at the conference. The speakers would often talk about the necessity of actively listening to a woman’s narrative and seeking to understand her perspective surrounding her abortion experience. Although it wasn’t always said, it was understood that if abortion activists would take the time to listen to these women (and men) and their abortion stories, they would be succeeding where pro-lifers have failed.

I kept hearing that if only given a chance to think logically and rationally, and removed from their home of origin, a person raised in a radical or fundamentalist Christian home would obviously conclude that abortion is a necessary component of women’s healthcare and the religious rhetoric they were raised with would logically be forgotten. Although I would not consider my upbringing or current religious life to have been, or be, radical or fundamentalist in nature, I got the impression from the other delegates that if they knew what outlandish things I believed, I would be labeled as a fundamentalist – the idea that I could dare to believe in the creation story as outlined in Genesis, or believing the Bible has authority in my life were themes that were laughed at in one presentation, I squirmed a bit in my seat as I looked around a room of 30+ people who thought my perspective had no value because I believe in Biblical authority.

Interestingly, at the outset of the conference we were told this was a safe place for open dialogue, although it became evident that the only viewpoints they would receive were ones that aligned with their way of thinking.

I propose using their framework to tell my narrative. I had a positive pro-life upbringing and I don’t regret it. As a child I was taught about the value of human life – from the time a woman was pregnant until that person died, they were a person deserving of human dignity and worth. No matter what someone did, even if it was a terrible thing, we were told to not stoop to their level – whether it was being teased for having amblyopia (a non-issue now, as an adult, but was a huge deal as a child) or something more severe. I experienced quite a bit of hurt in my young life and yet I can say with gratitude that although wounded, I did not respond in a way that dehumanized the offender. For that, I am thankful to my parents. I remember attending a pro-life rally as a young girl in Vancouver with my mom – it wasn’t an angry protest and I don’t recall any graphic images, simply a time to stand in protest and pray for women in unplanned pregnancies and their unborn children. As I grew older I formed opinions about public school sex-ed curriculum, including writing a letter to the editor about teaching abstinence as part of a comprehensive curriculum. I researched abortion in Canada and the United States and plastered my walls with magazine and newspaper articles. I have had friends who have had abortions and I have had friends who became teen mothers. As an adult I have participated in the National March for Life in Ottawa as well as Life Chain events in Hamilton and London, Ontario. I have expanded my understanding of pro-life measures from beyond my Christian upbringing to include scientific arguments about the personhood of the fetus and the medical studies that show the adverse effects of abortion on a woman, physical and psychological. I was raised in a traditional Christian home with a pro-life framework, and twelve years after leaving home and continuing to form my own opinions: I am still pro-life and I do care about women, their health and the impact on abortion in our culture.

The conference gave me a lot to think about it as it relates to the abortion movement in Canada and internationally, as well as how to respond with empathy, dignity and respect to those I disagree with and finally, how to move forward with a better understanding of the goals of abortion advocates on how they intend to make abortion an accessible and normalized part of women’s healthcare.

1 comment:

  1. You are a strong amazing person. I look forward to getting to know you!