When it comes to politics, I’ve always sort of lived in the middle ground. Being raised in the liberal city of Portland, Oregon with a childhood spent in a very conservative Baptist church will do that to a person. I am a product of my influences and experiences, and as such have never truly identified with being either conservative or liberal. I find myself in alignment with issues from each side.
Being a moderate was a pretty good place to be, up until recently. During such a polarizing election, I have often felt like there is nowhere for me to fit in, and this never felt more true than during the Women’s March. Though I was invited to attend with friends, I felt the need to decline. While I align with many of the issues that people were marching for, I also consider myself to be pro-life. The Women’s March made it known, in a released statement, that they were firmly pro-choice and looked forward to marching with those who share that view.
Once again I found myself feeling adrift, without a place to raise my voice. So, I did what I often do when feeling the need to be heard: I wrote about it. I wrote an essay about how I (along with other women who share similar views) felt uninvited to this movement. Despite the fact that we might agree with the other human right causes at hand, it felt like there was no room in the narrative for us.
I put the essay out into the universe to be published, but was fairly certain I wouldn’t actually share it on my social media accounts. Letting your beliefs live semi-anonymously on a website is a whole lot different than sharing it with people you actually know. I knew that with such an emotionally charged topic, the backlash from my predominantly left-leaning friends would be substantial.
I waffled back and forth, because to be honest the thought of “outing” myself was pretty terrifying. But in the end I decided to share the piece on my Facebook page. I took a deep breath as I hit the “post” button, but then something remarkable happened …
A truly beautiful discussion unfolded.
Suddenly, the comment section of my Facebook post turned into a town hall for my pro-life and pro-choice friends to have a much-needed civil discourse. Through this thread were woven the experiences and viewpoints of many women from different walks of life. As we sorted through the hard parts together and began to chip away at the exterior, we discovered we had more common ground than we thought.
I realized that some of these women have very similar views to my own regarding the issue of abortion, but think of themselves as being pro-choice, which was eye-opening. Most of us agreed that access to healthcare and contraception (better contraception options for men, too) were a crucial component for making change, as well as sex-ed that’s comprehensive and didn’t just promote abstinence. We agreed that pro-life must also extend beyond birth and into the areas of foster care, adoption, and quality social programs for children and families.
There were certainly some uncomfortable moments, and I think many felt incredibly vulnerable discussing such a sensitive issue (I certainly did), but these dialogues need to happen — as one friend pointed out:
“Your article has brought up some very thoughtful conversation that is so important. So much shame around abortion, both pro-life and pro-choice stances. And we are taught not to discuss it openly. But it is so important for us to discuss it together. ” — Sabrina J.
In the midst of a time when our country feels so divided, these are the kinds of conversations that will bring our country together. When everyone has a seat at the table to share her voice and be heard in a civil manner, true change and a better world is possible.
While I didn’t necessarily change my stance and suddenly decide to call myself pro-choice instead of pro-life, I think everyone in the discussion was heartened by seeing how much we all had in common. At the end of the day, no change happens without a proper dialogue, and we are truly more alike than we all think. It’s just about looking for the humanity and not expecting the worst out of everyone.