Abortion is a tough issue to discuss with people. People get very passionate about the issue. Their opinions can sometimes cloud everything to the point where they are unwilling to associate with others who have different viewpoints. When discussed, people will talk at each other instead of to each other. They hear the noise of the other person’s opinion, but as they’ve already decided how to proceed – they ignore the validity of the other side’s argument. I should know, I’ve done this before myself and I’ve also been on both sides of the argument in my lifetime.
The pro-choice position advocates for the legalization of abortion. They come at this issue from a seemingly very libertarian view. They desire for women to have entire and complete control over their own body. No outside influence. No one from the government telling them what they can or cannot do with their own bodies. They believe strongly that this is a personal decision which no one, especially a government entity, should force their will upon them. They believe this needs to be safely legal to protect the women involved. They passionately believe in a woman’s right to make these decisions for themselves and in the right of the individual to control their own body. Imagine, if you are pro-life, what this viewpoint means. This is a very libertarian viewpoint. Having control and complete authority over yourself is a viewpoint many of us can understand. Yet, once this specific issue arises, we are willing to brush off and ignore the other person entirely.
The pro-life position advocates for restrictions or complete prohibition of abortion. They believe that the unborn child is a distinct human life from the mother and, therefore, deserving of the same protections under the law as any other human being. As they believe with their entire being that this separate being is a human deserving of the same rights as all people, they believe abortion is murder. They believe that the unborn are unique human beings who are currently unable to defend themselves, unable to speak about protecting their own lives, and therefore need that protection from those of us who are already born. Imagine, if you are pro-choice, what this viewpoint means. It’s a very sympathetic and life-affirming viewpoint. It’s a compassionate viewpoint believing that we need to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. Yet, as with the other position, we can sometimes get blinded by our passion and ignore the opinions/concerns of others.
Through all this, the average American mostly falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum from pro-life to pro-choice. Yet, if you were to listen to politicians and pundits, you would assume there is only an either/or mentality among most people. This is a part of the problem.
When we lose the empathy with others, we tend to miss their views entirely and assume an underlying bigotry from the other party. When we stop being willing to listen to the views of others, hostility arises. When we call each other baby killers or anti-women, our own bigotry is showing and we are ignoring the truly carefully crafted views of our friends. They do not view things this way out of hatred; in most cases their views arise out of a place of love, whether we understand that place or not.
As we continue to talk at each other on this and many other issues, nothing will change. Until we begin to listen to each other with open and understanding ears, we will never truly understand each other or be open to truly addressing societies ills. Let’s be real, no one really wants tons of abortions. That means tons of unwanted and unplanned medical procedures; it means many unintended pregnancies; it means (generally) more unprotected sex among more people which could help spread more diseases. What we all want is a safe society with more personal freedoms, but also the most vulnerable members being protected somehow. Let’s stop assuming what others believe and start actually having a dialogue. Nothing will change unless we do.