...is not the story we would expect a few days before the March for Life. However, having been on too long of a hiatus, I concluded that an ambitious idea for a blogpost was in order. This idea would need, at its heart, a bold attempt at dialogue and understanding; one which echoed the sentiments I expressed on my first radio show. I endured biting cold, with journal in hand, to observe the National Organization for Women’s pro-choice vigil in front of the Supreme Court. I am writing this in an effort to be able to establish some sort of foundation for dialogue and understanding, as both camps seem to further divide themselves into cultural warfare.
When I had arrived late, less than fifty pro-choicers were gathered at the steps of the Supreme Court. Standing near them was a single pro-life protestor, who angrily yelled and repeated a single phrase: that pro-choicers should “abort their rhetoric” and not their children. However, this man was ignored, and even laughed at by the pro-choicers. Regardless of his heroic virtue or intention, his actions were far less effective than my calm questions and silent jotting down of notes. I felt he had done dishonor to the unborn he was trying to save. This does not exonerate the pro-choicers, who, in efforts not uncommon among other liberal protestors, tried to rouse the crowd with anger. A particular speaker, from StopPatriarchy.org, in anger at the sole and screaming pro-lifer, declared boldly that there is “no common ground” with the “Christian Fascists.” I was even more dismayed when, later on, the crowd cheered together, “Not the Church, not the state, women must decide their fate.” I decided it was time for me to start attempting discussion with some of them.
When I introduced myself as a dialectic pro-lifer to other members of the rally, I feared a negative reaction. However, they did not show anger or hostility, and appreciated my attention to what they had to say, even if I disagreed. The facade of anger and alienation that the pro-choice leaders had used slipped away for a more dialectic, persuasive tone which, though it sought to announce and also convince, had a degree of hope for dialogue. As I have learned from this experience, anger at “opponents” is not only misguided but conceals our true desire to come together as one human family.
The largest grievance I judged from my sporadic notes and sparse words with the attendees was a feminist fear of women being regarded as “breeders” only. I managed to speak to one woman from StopPatriarchy.com as well. Stop Patriarchy.com attracted my curiosity since they were not only strongly pro-abortion, but also very anti-pornography. A feminist from their organization explained that their sexual view of the woman involved ending the stereotypes that women were either “breeders” or “sex objects” . The removal of these solely sexual views of women in either instance was the goal of their organization, since both are seen as oppressive. I concur strongly with the evil of pornographic objectification of women, but their fear of a women’s place as only a “breeder” and their subsequent pro-choice view saddened me.
How has this experience impacted how I believe the pro-life movement should go forward? Pro-lifers must spend more time combating the “women as breeders” fear with comfort. Marc Barnes has done an impressive job at focusing on how a woman can empower herself to manage her fertility in a natural way by emphasizing methods of natural family planning, and we here at Gaudium Dei have taken to emphasizing the beauty of children regardless. Motherhood is more than “breeding;” it is responsible parenting, managing sexual lifestyles, and sometimes rolling with the punches. Men need to especially be aware of these worries in women. While these seem like obvious answers to this fear to pro-lifers, we need to exercise patience in our responses. The stereotypes established may take generations to destroy, for strong examples of joyful family life, in the matter that Marc and others at 1flesh.org describe, need time to one day become a strong voice of the family life that both opposes abortion yet upholds a woman to more than a “breeder.” Waiting for the effect of these voices requires patience and faith. In the meantime, we can either choose to ignore pro-choicers as having any opinions worth hearing, or allow ourselves to listen genuinely to their concerns, and even consider building a better society together.
For a moment, I wondered what the world would be like if men and women who disagreed sought to know the hearts and minds of others, rather than simply amass once a year and March for their cause. If I were not alone, pro-lifers could have learned more about what our own cause means in those moments, not from sneaky investigation, but from honest questioning. Debate is nice; Marching is nicer, but nothing matches the truly satisfying hope one experiences when they look into the eyes of another, and ask the question, “What do you really want me to know about your heart and soul?”
Copyright (c) 2013 Joseph Jablonski
- Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicers