I was trawling down a long thread on social media, with people fired up about the topic of abortion. One person said abortion should be freely available and affordable to all women in Australia. Another said it wasn’t fair that pro-life taxpayers were essentially funding abortions through the public system.
Back and forth it went.
Bubbling and brewing.
And then my scrolling finger froze at one comment that so clearly typified the vernacular around this divisive topic. The comment was:
“I can’t imagine having an abortion personally, but I sure as all hell won’t be encouraged to take away the right to choose from any other woman.”
Let’s break this down.
There is a large portion of our society who hold with an ‘each to their own’ mentality. On a personal level, they wouldn’t entertain the thought of having an abortion. They wouldn’t carry through with a procedure that destroys life budding within the womb. Their life experience has brought them to this place. For whatever reason, they have come to the conclusion that abortion is unjust or unethical or immoral or inhumane or wrong or unhealthy.
Perhaps they know someone who has been through an abortion and have seen their grief and the ensuing mental health issues they have struggled with. Perhaps they are parents and have known the nine-month journey to meeting their child for the first time, and the sense of connection and protectiveness that is forged right from conception. They may have researched abortion practices; the methods used, the studies, the statistics. Maybe their faith or upbringing is such that they couldn’t go through with an abortion in good conscience.
Whatever the reasoning, they are essentially against abortion. And yet, they adopt an ‘each to their own’ countenance for everybody else. Sure, they’ve weighed up the pros and cons, they’ve looked at the research, the anecdotal evidence, they’ve juggled the moral and ethical dilemmas, but they are unwilling to enter into the space of holding an opinion that is, quite frankly, unpopular.
We live in a free country, but are we truly free to express different thoughts and opinions?
In the past fortnight, two Australian universities have made the news for their different handling of a pro-life group on campus. In Tasmania, LifeChoice has established an affiliation with the Tasmanian University Union. The pro-life group, which promotes “the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, through reasonable and informed discussion on the issues of abortion and euthanasia in Australian society” receives no TUU funding and met all the criteria for a university society. Still, they came under intense fire from pro-choice activists who have lobbied to have the group removed.
“We believe that a woman should never have to choose between her child and her education. We believe that all human life is precious and should be protected,” LifeChoice Tasmania president Naomi Spinks said.
The same society at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle, Perth, was denied affiliation altogether.
And there I was thinking that universities were places that encouraged intelligent, varied discussion on relevant topics!
The tide of political correctness is tearing at the tenets of democracy, watering down (or completely washing away) that basic freedom of opinion and belief. Now, more than ever, we must overcome the fear of being different, of being viciously shouted down, of offending. We need to stand up and step into courage. Graciously, with kindness and humility. But with the strength that comes with standing for truth. Let’s not forget that one person’s small act of courage empowers many to do likewise.
The problem with the ‘each to their own’ spin of the pro-abortion camp is that it severs connections. When one woman says to another who is facing an unplanned pregnancy, “Well, I wouldn’t have an abortion but feel free to go ahead yourself,” – it’s a washing of hands. It demonstrates a reticence to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. But that’s precisely how community works.
People don’t need the jargon of political correctness. They need genuine connection, help and guidance.
When a woman is grappling with news that she is eight weeks pregnant to a man who doesn’t want the baby, she doesn’t need a dismissive line like, “do what’s right for you,” – she needs someone to come alongside her and to say, “This feels awful right now, but when you hold this child in your arms for the first time, it will all be worth it.” More than that, she needs hard-working folk who will do practical things like give her a place to stay, throw her a baby shower, buy her a pram, cook her some meals, attend appointments.
‘Each to their own’ is a myth. One person’s choice affects countless people around them, as does one person’s decision not to speak up.
It’s no good staying silent. Silence doesn’t save babies. But a gentle voice of love and life against the current of death and self-preservation can be just the anchor that is needed.
Will you be that voice?