When you do CCBR’s internship, you have the opportunity to have unforgettable conversations with people on the streets. I wish I could say that all of the conversations I’ve had saw peoples’ opinion on the issue of abortion at least shift towards the pro-life position. Even though I’ve had a lot of those conversations, that’s not always the case.
A short while ago, I spoke with a student named Kevin. Last year, Kevin had encountered our group in front of his high school as we dialogued with students while showing abortion victim photography. He told me that at that time he was passionately pro-choice and debated fiercely while we were there. He went on to explain that when he walked away, he was still adamantly pro-choice. However, Kevin shared that something had resonated with him. After encountering the images and reflecting upon the conversations he had had, he was prompted to do his own research.
As I sat in one of my high school classes, my teacher told the class that she would show us an eye-opening image, something I didn’t think would change my life. With the click of a button, the horrors of abortion were engrained in my memory. That was the first time I saw what abortion does to pre-born children, the first time I realized that abortion is truly inhumane.
One of the biggest challenges we as activists face when engaging the public in dialogue about abortion is presenting the pro-life argument in a way that others will be open to accepting it. Often clearly sharing the facts is not enough; I find that I almost have to show them that I am not changing their mind or the way that they see abortion, but rather they are changing their mind on their own and really all I did was guide their self realization. If you ask me, it really is an art.
“You’re wrong.” The student I was speaking to looked at me calmly and confidently. “Life doesn’t begin at fertilization,” he continued. “Life begins when there’s brain activity. You’re dead when your brain stops; you’re alive when your brain starts.”
In attempting to make the case that a certain level of cognitive function is necessary to grant human rights, this young man had made a pro-life case to himself. I didn’t need to convince him; I only needed to help him delve a little deeper into the premise he had just presented.
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.