How a conversation with a friend changed my stance on abortion

I was brainwashed at school


Catholic school was as jesus-loving as you could imagine. Beyond the typical curriculum, school-wide masses and monthly confessions were the norm. 

Uncomfortable issues were explained by diehard Catholic teachers. I remember learning why being gay is wrong, that condoms shouldn’t be used, and that abortion equates to murder.

A typical theology class consisted of videos of abortions being performed, featuring images of disassembled and bloodied fetuses. It was a terror to watch, yet effective in developing my stance as pro-life.

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My teacher had spent years advocating against abortion; many of his responses were based closely on the teachings of the church.

Adoption, natural family planning, and death always seemed to be a just alternative to abortion. No matter if the woman was raped, the condom broke, or carrying the baby to term would likely result in death. It was so important to give the unborn baby a chance at life – and I agreed.

When learning about abortion at the age of 16, I never bothered to challenge the pro-life stance. To me, what a teacher preached was true (these kinds of things were also on exams). Everyone was encouraged to advocate heavily against the practice. Extra credit was even offered to those who did get involved. When the opportunity came, I took it.

A defining moment in my advocacy was attending the 2010 March for Life rally in Washington, DC. Thousands gathered holding up pro-life signs and blown up pictures of aborted fetuses. Amongst the crowds were nuns, priests, and children apparently saved from abortion. When I walked amongst many others who fought for the same cause, I truly felt like I was part of something greater.

Then came a conversation with a friend.

I was telling her about the rally and she immediately became uncomfortable. It wasn’t long before she revealed to me that she had an abortion in the past. She was pregnant from a careless hook up and wasn’t ready to take care of a child.

I was so confident in my beliefs that I actually argued with her about it for hours, spewing anti-abortion rhetoric almost verbatim from my teachers.

We both became agitated with each other. Yet, as the conversation progressed I found myself understanding her reasonings and regretting my position. While I felt she destroyed another life, she maintained that she was able to keep from destroying her own life. I was too deep in the fight to admit that I was wrong.

I never understood why I felt so passionately about all of this. I have never been in a situation where abortion was a personal concern, or a concern of friends. When my friend showed me the other side of the argument, it finally clicked for me. This wasn’t a matter of giving a baby a chance, it was a fight to deny a woman a choice.

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When I finally decided to become pro-choice, I never told anyone. I wasn’t ready to go public with my change of heart. Assuming a position like this as a Catholic is something that can truly damage friendships. Yet, I am completely willing to lose those friendships if it means allowing women to be free.

I firmly believe that a woman should have a choice when it comes to abortion. I am as stubborn about this opinion now as I was when I was pro-life. Should I ever be in a predicament where abortion is an option, I rest easy knowing that I can make that decision.

Every now and then, when abortion flares up as a national debate, I am exposed to the ugly reality of where my own friends and family stand.

Pro-lifers are hardcore believers, but I know that if any of them sat down with someone who has experienced an abortion and listened to their reasonings, they too might have a change of heart. It’s just like any person in a divided situation, if you listen, you can learn.

Whenever the topic does come up, I proudly take a stance. I’ve had a number of encounters with women with pregnancy scares or tough decision to make. While I never tell them what to do, I always remind them they have a choice.