A Third Voice in the Abortion Debate

In a recent opinion piece from GazetteNet, a pro-choice man talked about his experience dialoguing with pro-life people in an online forum:

“One of the most disturbing aspects of the discussion was that pro-life people believe women have abortions casually, without personal struggle. They seem to think that women . . . simply jot an abortion into their appointment calendar as they would a trip to the shopping mall or beauty parlor. That’s absolutely not the case for any woman I’ve ever known who has chosen to have an abortion. This inability to acknowledge the deep thoughts and emotions experienced by these women seems to be a gross failure of empathy at best – cruel at worst.”

While I don’t agree with everything the author says in the article, I resonate with this portion. I have read and talked with some pro-life people who do believe this. And it is very disturbing. This belief leads people to do all sorts of things to try to “talk her out of it.” From protesting in front of abortion clinics, to exaggerating the medical risks of abortion, to holding up graphic pictures — it’s all designed to jolt her, to let her know that she needs to take this choice seriously.

But none of these activities validate her struggle or enter into it with her. None of them do anything to alleviate what is causing her to consider abortion in the first place.

I am also disturbed by the response of some pro-choice people I have read or talked with, saying the primary answer to a woman’s deep personal struggle is to offer abortion as a solution. They fight very hard for women to retain the right to have an abortion, but I don’t see them digging into a woman’s situation, finding out where she may have conflicting feelings or exploring how to create another option for her.

There seems to be an assumption on both sides that abortion is what women really want. One side spends most of their time trying to talk women out of wanting an abortion or making it inaccessible; the other side spends most of their time trying to ensure that women continue to have access.

What if we instead took that same time and tried something new? What if we began by agreeing on a new assumption: that – at least for many women – abortion is a very difficult, complex and emotionally-laden decision?

In my experience, most people do acknowledge this reality, but they aren’t the vocal ones in the media or our culture. We are letting the people who represent the extremes of both political sides do most of the talking.

What if we created a third voice in this deadlocked debate? A group of people who, regardless of political persuasion, took the time to ask women more questions and listened with open minds to the reasons why they consider abortion?  A group of people who worked together to change the things in our society that make many women feel like their only options are abortion or overwhelming struggle as a mom?

I want to be part of a movement of people who will invest time and energy into creating positive, practical solutions for both women and children. And in fact, I already am.

It’s why I’m so passionate about being part of the ProGrace Movement. And why I hope you consider joining us.

Angie Weszely, CEO & Co-Founder of ProGrace

@angieweszely