“What do you think about abortion?” I asked a student at Mount Royal University, who was right around my age.
“I would have an abortion,” she told me. It was not just a stubborn pro-choice response, as that statement often is. She was firm in her tone, but not harsh, and though she was holding herself together, I could see the tears she held in her blue eyes.
I wanted to ask what caused her to hold this position, but I had just met her a moment before and I didn’t want her to run off before we got talking. Who knows, I thought, she might offer her background as our conversation goes on. So, I put my curiosity to the side for a moment and asked her a few questions to get a better idea of what she was thinking. Was she really as pro-choice as she said she was?
I asked her in what circumstances she’d have an abortion. In any circumstance? In extreme circumstances? What circumstances would she consider “extreme”? She had a wide variety of reasons why abortion should be available to women, and listed them off as they came to mind.
After finding common ground with her, I used the Human Rights Argument and noticed her attempt to dodge my question of whether the pre-born are human. My question: “If two humans reproduce, their offspring must be human, right?” made her uncomfortable. She could recognize the logic of it, so she, though somewhat defensive, agreed with me. I reinforced this idea with another question, hoping she’d be more comfortable with it and the logic would take away her hesitancy. She again agreed, but cautiously.
She added, “No matter what the woman chooses, it’s not easy for her.”
She was right, and I told her so. “I know abortion is hard, whether or not she thinks it was the best choice, and whether she comes to regret it or not,” I said. “I know friends who’ve chosen abortion and suffered afterwards.”
She shared about her friends who’d had abortions and how they were doing. I told her about post-abortion counselling services and how there are always people available to talk to. I offered her a business card with post-abortive help information and she accepted, slipping it into the back pocket of her jeans.
A friend of hers appeared at her side and we continued on with the conversation as we had before, discussing the humanity of the pre-born and me gently asking her, “Shouldn’t our human rights begin when we begin?”
Throughout the conversation she didn’t want to “give in” to the pro-life position, but she agreed to the facts that are the foundation of the pro-life position.
Near the end of the conversation she stated that she had the same position that she had when we started talking. Honestly, this was disappointing for me to hear, but I held her accountable to what we both previously agreed to and pressing her on it slightly, she agreed that some restrictions would be good and she would support them.
What did I learn from this conversation?
I learnt, first and above all, to listen and love. I had gotten emotional speaking with her. I had told her about the pain I have for those mothers and born children who are suffering, who don’t have the support they need, and how I firmly believe we need to help and support these women and children. She understood and could see my love for them, and I hope, the love I have for her too.
I also learnt that it’s okay to plant seeds and trust that they will be watered and tended to by others in the future. She did shift in her position, and she openly accepted information on where to get help for her friends who may be suffering, but no, she didn’t leave the conversation identifying as pro-life.
Even in disappointment it is important to remember that seeds were planted and in this case, her view of pro-lifers changed, and that matters.
We cannot force people to change their minds, but we can love others by sharing the truth with them. The seeds of truth we plant will continue speaking long after our conversations are over.