I am one of many people who have gone from pro-choice to pro-life. When a local newspaper published my letter against the federal funding of abortion, commenters called me a hypocrite for “using my right to choose and then trying to deny it to other women”. I understand that changing sides can be hard to comprehend, especially for those who can’t imagine a world without legal abortion.
If this is your case, I trust that you are a compassionate and tolerant person and I hope that you will listen to the reasons why I changed my mind.
For many people, abortion is about the “right to choose” but abortion is not a human right. It is not a guarantee of our Freedom as a people. It can’t be compared to the right to vote or the right to free speech. Besides, neither in my pro-choice days nor now, have I found anything fulfilling, glorious or uplifting in the forcible ending of a pregnancy. And unlike access to clean water, abortion is not necessary for our survival. (see here for abortion in the case of rape and here for the health of mother).
Also, the fact that abortion is legal doesn’t make it moral. If it were the case, then everything that happened under the Third Reich would be morally acceptable because it was legal. Now I’m sure that even “abortion on demand without apology” folks would disagree with that and recognize that the Nazi regime, with all its (legal) atrocities, was morally wrong.
But why do some pro-choicers have a radical change of opinion on abortion?
Firstly, abortion is violent. Let’s take a look at the picture above. It reads: “If you take away a woman’s right to choose, what will she turn to?” (with the outline of an unborn baby made out of a twisted coat hanger). The message is clear: “my child is my enemy I am going to use violence to deal with him/her”. This is certainly not a peaceful response to a crisis situation. Note that the message doesn’t say: “to whom will she turn” but “to what”. Has our society become this desperately individualistic that, in our hour of need, we are expected to turn to things instead of turning to people? Interestingly, Planned Parenthood director Mary Calderone published an article about illegal abortions pre-Roe v. Wade and wrote that 90% of illegal abortions were performed by physicians.
Often pro-choicers are anti-death penalty, anti-guns, anti-war and anti-violence. I used to be all of the above (and still am) except that I am against violence in the sanctuary of the womb as well.
In the past, I wasn’t educated about the violence of “choice”. I wanted to know as little as possible about it and wished I could erase the blood tainted memories of my abortions. And although I took biology classes, I was willfully ignorant about when human life begins.
The fact that I was in abusive relationships and received violence in return for love, has probably contributed to view the fetus as a lifeless, disposable thing. After all, my life didn’t have much value either.
In America where abortion laws are very liberal, poverty and child abuse-related-deaths are at a record high. Clearly, forty years of legalized abortion have not suppressed poverty and have not created happy, loving families of “wanted” children.
But the main reason why pro-choicers can’t justify “choice” any longer and change sides is because abortion is bad for women.
To understand this, imagine that you experienced a traumatic event with your consent. In fact, you even paid for it. You were told that it was the sensible thing to do to solve your problem.
For a short period of time, you are feeling relieved. Then you try to go back to your “pre-problem” life but something is broken. What’s wrong with you? You don’t seem to enjoy life like you used to. There is this thing that happened, but you don’t want to go there. Life is tough and like the Phoenix, you always rise from the ashes. And yet, something is “off” but you can’t put your finger on it.
Time goes by and you have been feeling numb and broken for many years. You have recently met people who have something peaceful about them.You too, want to know peace. But first, you have to face and own that “thing” that you have refused to acknowledge for too long. It is incredibly hard to look at your reflection on the walls of this tunnel but you can see a light in the distance and it gives you hope.
Now that you have connected the dots with your abortion and that your wounds start to heal, naturally, you want to share your experience with others and offer alternatives to those contemplating abortion. Learning from our mistakes doesn’t make us hypocritical, especially when we share our experience out of compassion and with reasoning.
When I was pro-choice, I didn’t know about research on coerced/forced abortion, life long consequences and suicide. I never knew that so many women regretted their abortions (thousands of testimonies are available online.) My favorite news outlet never reported abortion related injuries and death.
I am against abortion not because I want to control women’s bodies or deny them human rights but because abortion is a failure and instead of throwing vulnerable women the abortion bone, we should try to meet their needs with food, shelter, free prenatal/post natal care, parenting classes, diapers, counseling, mentoring etc…
Often I think about the right to privacy as the duty to be isolated with your dirty secret. This is how it feels to have an abortion in this abortion-on-demand culture. To better serve women, it is important to understand why they have recourse to abortion. We need to listen, to identify their needs and support them. Because this is what compassion is really about.