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Published: January 10, 2013 3:41 am to Opinion Column

Understanding the other side

As you may know by now, I help run two blogs on tumblr that are pro-life. Such an experience is beneficial as a pro-lifer engaged in social media and in general for interacting with others, including and especially those who are not of our same opinion.

We have gotten many questions, comments, and responses from a range of people – from fellow pro-lifers encouraging us to those who are curious to pro-choicers trying to debate to downright cruel and angry people who don’t understand the pro-life movement one bit.

Despite such hatred expressed towards the blog and the cause, I actually understand where the other side is coming from. I understand that they see abortion very differently from how I see it. So when others accuse me of not understanding the other side or just wanting to control everyone or being sexist, etc., their accusations are simply not true. And to run off at the mouth like that against somebody who disagrees with you does not really help you or the cause you are claiming to speak for. Are there pro-lifers who do this as well? I’m sure that there are. But I am writing about my experience with those who have something against the pro-life movement. I am hesitant to call such people just pro-choice, even, because I think it does a disservice to those who are passionately but peacefully pro-choice.

I do not choose to go on pro-choice websites or blogs, as I believe that a pro-life venue is the better source for me to express my opinions and beliefs. If you are one who does choose to do so, please do so with a loving and kind heart. If someone is converted to the pro-life cause, let it be in part because you showed them the truth with love.

Though it is not a position that I take, I do understand how the pro-choice movement sees abortion as a woman’s right to choose, and that people on that side regard their opposition as taking away that right. Pro-lifers see the issue differently and seek to eliminate abortion to stand up for the right to life for all, the unborn included. Since both sides see the issue in such a fundamentally different way, that’s why each side has the term “pro” in its movement’s name. Pro-choice describes being in favor of the choice to abortion, as pro-life describes being in favor of the life of the unborn. I used to get upset when the other side would call us anti-choice, especially since there is technically only one choice we are against. But now I feel that when others call us such a name as anti-choice, it speaks to how hardened their hearts are about those who disagree with them.

I have found that those who somehow believe they are representing the pro-choice side hurl insults, profanity, and (what I find actually worst of all) generalizations and assumptions which they seem so set in believing to be truth. I would especially like to point out here that pro-lifers are not all religious zealots. These rather nasty people on the internet not only disagree with pro-lifers, but take it one step farther in that they fail to understand or simply ignore where the other side is coming from to the point where the pro-life movement isn’t even worthy of being called a cause. The reason why I mention that I find generalizations and assumptions the worst is because it just makes you seem ignorant and uneducated – not only about the opposing side, but also just about anything else.

Now, I am not trying to demonize pro-choicers, but rather simply stating my experience. I have dear friends who are pro-choice. It’s something we strongly disagree on, but if every friendship was based on agreeing on everything, would anyone have any friends? I just hope that such friends may see me as a good representation of the pro-life movement, and as someone they can come talk to about the matter if they want such a perspective. If there are pro-lifers out there who can understand the other side better, I hope that they will come to do so; in the end, it will actually help themselves and our movement.

I have actually had a few pro-choicers come to the blog and let me know that they disagreed but respected my opinion and were able to see where I was coming from. In fact, I actually regard this respect as even more important when it comes from someone who does not agree on the issue.

I am not saying that you should understand the other side to the point of not sticking up for your own side. Doubts are healthy to have at times, too, especially if it makes you stronger in your beliefs. But a sense of understanding will hopefully make you a more compassionate, educated, and respectful person in debate or discussion. And, perhaps most importantly, you will be more confident in yourself that after seeing where the other side is coming from, you still hold on to your own beliefs.

I like to say that I find my comfort in being on the side of the truth, even if the law is not currently on my side. However, if you do not agree with me or believe what I do, then I still understand and respect where you’re coming from. Those who are passionately pro-choice are people who are very different from me, but part of me believes that they should at least be commended for their dedication to a cause. And if you do disagree, I hope that you will regard me in the same was as well.

About Rebecca Downs

Rebecca Downs graduated from Fordham University in August 2012, where she was a member of the Respect for Life club and College Republicans. After writing for Live Action News since March 2012, she is thrilled to be involved at the Live Action office. She has also written for IRD's Juicy Ecumenism, Secular Pro-Life Perspective's and C-FAM. She first became interested in the Live Action campaign at the March for Life in 2010.
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