I was at SAIT, a college in Calgary, Alberta with our team of volunteers and staff. I held a “Life” sign and passed out brochures, hoping to catch a few students on their break and hear what they thought about abortion.
It was a good day for conversations and all our volunteers were chatting with students when a young woman stopped by my sign and shared with me that she didn’t like abortion. She understood that the pre-born child is a living human being, just like you and I, and deserves the same protection.
“Great!” I thought. But before jumping in to share how she could make an impact in her circles, I thought I’d probe a bit more. “Would you say that abortion is always wrong then?” I asked her. “Or can you think of a circumstance where you think we should allow it?”
She paused. “Well in some cultures a woman might be shamed for it [referring to pregnancy out of wedlock],” she said, suggesting that maybe this is a circumstance where abortion should be allowed.
Though it is not uncommon to hear exceptions brought up by those who, in most cases, take the position that abortion is wrong, sometimes it still surprises me. Clearly there was some cognitive dissonance here. She had just communicated to me that abortion takes the life of an innocent child, and now that fact was besides the point. I thought to myself, “I wonder what she’d think of that position if I repeated it back to her. “
Before I did that though, I acknowledged what was likely her concern (that is, why I thought she might have brought this up). “It would certainly be very challenging for that woman who, because of her culture, might unfortunately face shame or judgement from others,”—she nodded in agreement—“and I couldn’t imagine what it’d be like for her. The father could, in a sense, get away with his actions, but she is physically carrying the child, for everyone to see.”
I could tell this resonated with her, so I continued with an example. In my analogy this woman was able to hide her pregnancy from those around her, but after the child was born, realizing that she could no longer hide the child and fearing shame from those around her, considered that it might be necessary to end that child’s life.
Of course, the idea that a woman might kill her born child was horrific to this young lady, but she understood my point. In both cases we have a woman in an extremely difficult situation, and (I made sure to highlight this next point) these women need our support. However, how could ending a baby’s life ever be an appropriate method of support? When the cognitive dissonance was broken with an example that she understood, she knew abortion was the furthest thing from a good option for mothers in difficult circumstances, and she told me so.
The pro-life position really isn’t a complex one, and that’s what we need to communicate. A woman’s situation certainly may be complicated, but when we ask the question of whether killing the innocent child involved in such circumstances is an appropriate solution the answer is anything but complicated. It is never okay to kill innocent human beings; abortion is never okay.