Understanding The Dark Side of the Moon

Too often I find that discussions with pro-choicers prove fruitless. We go through the same run-around, making the same arguments Pro Choice / Anti Bush Demonstrationand often leaving just as set in our ways as when we first began our discussion. Too often I find that pro-choicers say the oddest things to me, things that make me doubt whether they actually see me as human, things that make me wonder if they’re even hearing what I’m saying. As much as I appreciate the art of debate and dialogue, and know they have their place, I’m often left wondering what my conversation accomplished. Yes, I may be providing new ideas and arguments for pro-choicers to think about, but the thought suddenly occurred to me; Christ comes to the world as the sacred heart, not the sacred mind. To convert people, Christ is always spreading the gospel of love…so, perhaps, Christ was on to something there.

If we want to end the culture of death, perhaps we need a different approach. We need something that will show these people that pro-lifers are people, too. We need something that will show them we are normal; that we love them. Only then will they be open to the meaning of our words, not the weaknesses in them.

In one of my first philosophy classes my professor told us, “You will never get anywhere unless you understand what the other person is saying. Don’t assume that they are being dishonest. Rather, look at what they are saying and ask yourself ‘what must they be thinking or assuming for what they are arguing to be true and rational?’ Only then are you legitimized in disagreeing and arguing with them, because only then do you give their argument credence.”

We need to listen to pro-choicers.

After all, as the old saying goes, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Pro-choicers don’t feel loved by us because they don’t feel listened to by us. Why do they scream? Because, on some level, they must think that that is the only way to get through our thick skulls why it is that they are right.

What would happen if we listened to them? What if we heard what they are actually saying, not what we think they are saying, not what we want them to say? What they are actually saying. What do their words means? What must they be assuming for what they say to be true and rational? We especially need to listen to pro-choicers because of the evil that influences and directs their movement. Only in listening can we locate the pain and fear which motivates their movement and excites their passion. Only when we understand their fear can we respond to it with the appropriate love that dispels all fear and sin and leads to life and joy.

What do pro-choicers say? Why do they call themselves “pro-choice”? I think the answer to what they believe – and therefore why they say what they say – is in the name they have chosen for themselves.

Pro-choicers are always saying confusing things like “don’t go back,” “my body, my choice,” “freedom to choose,” “reproductive freedom,” “being in control of my body,” and referencing “back alley abortions” and “the coat hanger method.” Finally, my personal favorite, and the most confusing of all, “no one is ‘pro-abortion,’” in response to the pro-life habit of referring to them as “pro-aborts.”

All of these things have always sounded completely loony to me. What are these people talking about? If you are advocating a “choice” and the “choice” you advocate for is the right for an abortion, how can you say that “no one is pro-abortion”? But if we take a second to open our minds to them, all of these statements give us a clue to the pro-choice mindset. What’s more, these sayings don’t give us simply an insight into their minds. They show us how pro-choicers understand a world without abortion.

Let’s start with “no one is ‘pro-abortion.’” I believe that pro-choicers agree with pro-lifers. When a woman finds herself in a crisis pregnancy, she often doesn’t feel like she has a choice. She has an abortion because she has no choice. This has always been a pro-life argument against abortion, but what do pro-choicers say?

Pro-choicers see a woman who has a child she wasn’t expecting or doesn’t want as suddenly shoved into and chained to a life she doesn’t want. Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, this newly made mother finds herself in a world where her dreams and goals have become victim to her fertility. She finds herself in a position of incompatibility – motherhood and her dreams are incompatible, and this thought is so distressing that this woman becomes miserable. In fact, this woman finds herself in such a dark place that she would rather risk her life in a back-alley or “coat hanger” abortion, with the hope that by doing so she may get her life back, than spend her days trapped in the confines of baking and lonely motherhood. Her only choice to avoid this bleak outcome is to have an abortion. No, she does not have a choice, but by pursuing an abortion she is ensuring that she will have choices later on.

A world without abortion, for pro-choicers then, is a very dark world. A world where women have no choices other than being baby making machines, trapped in a 1950s-esque existence, without the pretence that this life is somehow fulfilling. To be pro-choice, for pro-choicers, is not to be pro-abortion, but rather to be pro-all-of-the-choices-than-the-woman-now-has-because-she-is-not-trapped-in-the-confines-of-1950s-fertility. “Pro-choice,” just sounds catchier and is easier to say. By having an abortion, a woman can remain in control of her life and body, rather than submit her life to the whims of her fertility or her failed contraception. Rather than become a baby-machine, she is free to use her body to pursue her dreams when she makes the decision not to allow her fertility to control her by having an abortion, something she tried to do responsibly through a contraception that has since failed her.

To pro-choicers, a world without abortion is a horrid place where women can’t pursue their dreams. To them, it’s a world where a woman must do as a man says for the simple reason that he is man and she is woman. It’s a world where motherhood traps women in a bitter, small life. Where women are used with no respect shown to their wishes, their desires, or their bodies. To be pro-choice is to recognize that the woman must not be punished for one mistake by losing all of her hopes and dreams.

Pro-choicers honestly believe that this is what a world without abortion looks like. And if they were right, I wouldn’t blame them for hating it. I hate it. No one wants to live in such a world. Of course they want to avoid such an existence – I do too.

Thus, I begin to understand why pro-choicers hate pro-lifers so much. Pro-choicers think that we see a world without abortion in the same way as they do, and we advocate for it. They think that we want to go back to a time where women listened to men for the sole reason that he is man and she is woman. They honestly believe that we want women to give up everything they’ve worked hard for and be confined in a kitchen, watching out the window as their dreams fade into dust. No wonder they see themselves as the truly compassionate ones. If that’s how you view a world without abortion and you see other people advocating for that world, then I don’t blame you for hating the other side. I don’t blame you for hating that world. I would hate that world. I would detest someone who argued for a “woman, know your place!” society.

What a sad and scary world these people must live in. To have an abortion, then, is truly a decision made out of fear – “I fear that if I don’t have an abortion, I’ll never be able to pursue my dreams. I’m afraid I’ll never be happy.”

What we as pro-lifers must do, what we are called to do, is to make it clear to our pro-choice brethren that we get it. We understand. We realize how it is that they see world without abortion, and we don’t want that either. We must find this common ground. We must show them that we see a world where a woman’s fertility is not contrary to her success. Where a woman can live in harmony with her body and her baby. Where all rights are respected because a child’s right to life is not in conflict with his mother’s right to pursue happiness. Where we need not be afraid, nor make decisions out of fear, because we are beloved children of God who knows us and has a plan for us, as the Lord promises in Jeremiah 29:11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” What we owe to ourselves, to our movement, and to our lost and frightened pro-choice brethren is a recognition of what a world without abortion really would look like. We must define it. We must recognize what we are fighting for; what we believe we can accomplish. We must show the world that a world without abortion is truly a good world, is truly a happy world, is truly a world of freedom.

image: Benjamin F. Haith / Shutterstock.com

See Part Two of this series Here

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Emma Smith

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Emma Smith graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Philosophy from Hillsdale College in May, 2013. While in school she served as Vice President of the pro-life club for 3 semesters and as On-Campus Mass Coordinator and Events Director for the Catholic Society for 4 semesters. Emma is passionate about her faith, her God, and all things pro-life. She currently works in both pro-life and Catholic ministries in the Diocese of Columbus. More of her work and writing can be accessed on her blog: http://paxlumen.blogspot.com

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  • James

    What I have noticed about many pro-choicers is that their default view of men is that of an abuser. The view is that most men don’t take no for an answer sexually and want to control women with pregnancy and childbearing. (The Handmaid’s Tale is a famous work of dystopian science fiction along these lines.) Therefore, in such a dark world, women need contraception and abortion to protect themselves from these men.

    Since they do not believe that male control is possible (or that it isn’t trustworthy), they think we advocate putting women at the mercy of abusers. Even within pro-choice circles, there has been a lot of vitriol launched at those who question whether hormonal contraceptives are good for women’s health and whether or not it is feminist to ask men to start taking responsibility for family planning.

    This also explains why womanizers are a non-issue for them. The “bro-choicer” may be an unapologetic cad, but he just wants one thing. He wants them for one evening, not for the rest of their lives. This is not a major concern.

  • gratiaplena

    Emma: I always cringe when I hear pro-life advocates refer to pro-abortion activists in the biased language invented by abortion activists, and by which they love to be labeled: “Pro-Choice”.

    Dr. Bernard Nathanson, former prolific abortionist and impetus behind Roe vs Wade, invented the slogans that pro-abortionists STILL use: “Pro-Choice”, “Reproductive Rights”, “My Body, My Choice”, etc. In fact, Dr. Nathanson admitted, “I remember laughing when we made up those slogans”, because he knew how gullible and superficial people are, are, and that they would quickly latch on to meaningless slogans like “Pro-Choice” without ever attempting to go deeper into what these phrases actually stand for.

    When we refer to pro-abortionists as “pro-choice”, we have already conceded to a component of their ideology–we are on their turf!

    The media have directives to NEVER use the term “pro-life” in their news reports, but “abortion foes”, “anti-abortion protesters”, etc. However, they ALWAYS use “pro-choice” or “abortion rights advocates”, etc. With our adversaries manipulating the language in order to manipulate the culture, the last thing we need is for pro-lifers to aid and abet them!

  • mary grace

    remember the adage ”it takes a village to raise a child?”. i believe that, when everyone—everyone(family especially, friends, community, government), is involved in raising a child only then can we see that world without abortion.

    One, recognize that life IS sacred; as is every child is precious. i believe that we’ve lost this respect. we’ve become mechanical in our thinking as if we’re just machines. how did it come to this point? remember how in some cultures if one were to kill (a chicken for example) in order to eat and nourish a body, they give thanks beforehand for they know that life is intrinsic to every living creature. how much more an offspring of man and woman?

    however, we’ve become so desensitized to this axiom in the course of an insidiously careful erosion of our senses throughout the years that no wonder we’re all broken.

    i spring from a broken family. Dad was a no show irresponsible man, mama was sick in the head because a group of men— one of whom was a lover hurt her in the cruelest way a man can hurt a woman. they raped her. mama was never the same. in this token, the foundation of my sexual identity was based on fear of men hurting me like they did my mother so i know how it feels to give up “freedom” as a female to a male. so how can we, as female truly respect and admire the masculinity of man if it’s starting point is based on such terror? to fear isn’t respect. how can love spring forth when there is fear?

    won’t someone step up? gentlemen? gentle Man.

    despite this, God blessed me with the best example of love in my life. she’s my second mother, my aunt. my Mommy. you see, in tagalog we have an expression, “siya ang sumalo sa akin.” it means she became my refuge.

    Mommy taught me about God, showed me the beauty of the catholic faith(), but most of all, she taught me about love. she taught not with words, but by example. yes she disciplined me too. definitely! (she had help of course. her friends took me in when i was just a few months old until i was seven).

    my second point is that when someone is in need, we help. that’s how a community is right?

    the thing is, the “i don’t care” attitude is so pervasive in our society today. how to combat that? be like Christ. Help. lend a hand, or shoulder or ear. be an example. Tip: have special devotion to the Sacred Heart. Jesus is the key that opens hearts to hear truth.

    how do we change the government? society or community in a grander scale? we start out small through that basic unit. The family.

    be a community in the your family. And PRAY>>the Rosary together.
    and receive Communion every day. He is our strength.

  • Dave

    Hi, this is so well written and more insightful than what most Catholic media present on the subject. But please hear what most non-Catholic members of our society tell me: “Why are they not all stepping up to adopt? Why are the babies of addicted, unwed and often unfit mothers raised in foster care, at public expense if they are so important?” Put simply,hard line pro-lifers need to either take out a second mortgage on their home and get busy showing the rest of us they really mean it… or just shut up.
    It is one thing to criticize, that is so easy. A lot harder to empathize, as you are doing here. But when I see Emma adopt an African American child and raising it as her own,
    not a conveniently purchased Chinese girl “orphan” – well then the discussion will be at a much higher level, right?

  • James Keating

    I hear you on a lot of this, but just because someone is unable to adopt children doesn’t mean we can’t address the problem. You and I are unable to feed every hungry person, spend billions of dollars to fix a broken economy, or rise in the power to stop us from going to unjust wars, but you’d find it laughable if I said, “Unless you can fix it, just shut up about poor economic conditions and war-torn regions.”

    More does need to be done, and the first thing pro-life groups could do would be to to start supporting more social programs to give help to expectant mothers. However, on that note, some of the most charitable people I’ve ever met, including many families who adopted multiple kids despite a humble background, are also the fiercest pro-lifers.

    Just some thoughts, but I do appreciate your observation. It’s good to challenge people to do more.

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