This might come as a bit of a surprise. But sometimes, if I’m really honest, I still hesitate to admit that I am pro-life.
My convictions are as strong as they ever have been.
My work researching and writing stories for Emily’s Voice and Not Born Yet exposes me to some profound truths: in research, statistics and real-life stories. Like I said, my convictions are not at stake.
But when you’re trundling through a conversation with a new mum at school, or the checkout chick or a taxi driver, and they ask, “What do you do?” I often hesitate. My brain is ticking over just how much time I have and whether they will be receptive to a truthful response. The “I work for a pro-life organisation” reply usually shuts conversation down. The topic is swiftly changed.
I’ve been publicly vocal on this issue for more than a decade. I’ve written in newspapers, magazines and blogs, spoken at events, on radio interviews and podcasts, rallied people for the cause… and yet still, it’s hard.
I’ve been thinking about that, and it’s really very straightforward: it’s not cool to be pro-life. There’s a certain irony in that statement. It’s unfashionable to be for life. Yet if our own mothers weren’t for life when they fell pregnant, we wouldn’t be here to uphold any particular ‘fashion’.
There has been a real swing towards philanthropy and social consciousness in the past 5-10 years. People are stepping up when it comes to ethical spending, environmental awareness and the plight of the poor. I watch the appeals pop up in my social media feeds; to end sex trafficking and poverty and bullying, and to find a cancer cure, and to bring awareness of mental health issues and to promote tolerance. No one disagrees with these things. I’m yet to meet a person who disagrees with ending world poverty. All the charities linked with these causes offer tax receipts so you can claim your donations at tax time.
Well, that’s controversial. And pro-life, well that’s just plane divisive. As for tax-deductibility, don’t make me laugh!
Sigh. It shouldn’t be this way.
The beautiful, miraculous, wondrous phenomenon of life should never be scorned or shied away from. Life should never be avoided, whether in poverty, in exploitation, in sickness, in hardship – or in the womb. It should never be hard to say, “I am for life!”
I guess that term, pro-life, has landed itself with a lot of baggage. Harsh, finger-pointing words have been brandished. Words that further bruise those already deeply wounded by the tragedy of abortion. Judgements have been made on the type of person who carries through with the life-ending procedure. Words of anger have been used in place of kindness, condemnation in place of hope, bullying in place of love.
I am pro-life. But that term is losing its potency. Instead, we must look for new ways to speak into the space of when life begins, how to measure its value, and the personhood inherent in each of us – even those in the womb, beyond our view.
And so, when I am asked, “What do you do?” or “What do you believe?”, my response is different. I speak of loving the innocent, of supporting the vulnerable and providing pathways out of hardship.
Here are some ways you can frame your own responses:
- I am pro-women and pro-babies. I believe both are vulnerable and need people to advocate for their needs.
- I’m keen to help people fall in love with the unborn, and to provide meaningful support to their mums.
- I believe in full choice. When a woman is provided all choices around pregnancy and supported so that temporary circumstances are not a stumbling block, she will usually choose life.
- I am pro-love. True love is unconditional. We don’t put conditions on love for people outside the womb, why is it ok to do that for pre-born children?