It’s a cold but sunny morning in Toronto. We set up for “Choice” Chain at various street corners around Ryerson University. I’m excited because we are there for a full day of outreach, and because there are so many of us—around 20 people spread across campus, with signs ranging from 3 feet wide to 10 feet wide. Most of our signs show first-trimester abortion victims, some show first-trimester ultrasounds, and some show second-trimester abortion victims. I know that we will reach thousands of people with pictures, hundreds with pamphlets, and dozens with conversations.
I felt like I was hitting a wall in my conversation with Danny at the Abortion Awareness Project. We had looked at pictures of aborted children, and we had discussed human rights and the difficult circumstances surrounding pregnancy. He would agree with my reasoning, and he even told me, “You’re really good at getting your point across.” Despite that, he kept reverting to his pro-choice position. If he understood the logic of the pro-life position, why wasn’t he convinced by it?
In late October, I was doing a campus “Choice” Chain with my local community group. I asked a student named Arjun what he thought about abortion, and he told me that he was pro-choice. “Where I come from in India, there are a lot of children who are homeless and living on the street,” he told me with a troubled look. “Sometimes I think, wouldn’t abortion have been better?
I’m standing on a street corner in Toronto, holding a sign with an image of a first-trimester abortion victim on it. Many passers-by tend to avoid my gaze and the pamphlets in my outstretched end. A few pause to vent about why my colleagues and I are atrocious human beings who should have been aborted. A man stops in front of one of my shortest colleagues, but not to talk. He spits. She’s an easy target. It covers her face, her hair, even her arm. My eyes go wide, I fumble for my phone to film, but he’s already passed on. I rush over to help her.
I was doing “Choice” Chain earlier this month with some friends through my community’s activism group, London Against Abortion. We had set up outside of one of the colleges in London to reach post-secondary students with the truth about abortion. While some college students are hostile and closed-off to discussion, many will admit that they actually have not given much thought to the issue of abortion.
Several years ago, I encountered the ideas of the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas while I idly skimmed my high school religion textbook. I was intrigued by his philosophy of “the face-to-face.” Levinas argues that when we encounter another human being face-to-face, we become ethically responsible towards that human being.