Why Take Sides?

It was on my mind for years. Literally. Am I pro-choice or pro-life? I used to wonder what was wrong with me that I couldn’t pick a side and stay with it.
And you know what was wrong with me?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

When it comes to the topic of choice where life is concerned, taking a side seems like the only way to go. Abortion isn’t the only part of life where this decision comes up. What about euthanasia or doctor assisted suicide? Are these issues really so straightforward and uncomplicated?

Before I had an abortion, I was pro-choice, although with the stipulation that it was something I believed in for other people and it was not something I would ever do. Can you feel my judgment oozing out of those words?

Even after my abortion, it made me feel better to believe that I had a right to choose what to do with my body. It validated the experience for me. My choice – my responsibility, but also my justification.

But then a miscarriage activated memories from the abortion that I couldn’t escape and I found myself beginning the process of healing from my abortion.  

At this point, I made a 180 degree turn around from my previous pro-choice stance and became pro-life. Healing was hard work and I had repressed a lot of negative emotions. Releasing all that toxicity was excruciating. I wanted to save anyone else from the trauma I experienced. At the time, a devout Roman Catholic, I confessed and repented my choice. In many ways, becoming pro-life was a way of restitution for me.

But atoning for my choice didn’t open me up to the whole story of my life and why I made that choice in the first place. It blinded me to the deeper parts of my story and kept me in shame – for I was continuing to judge myself.

The truth is I had my own issues to resolve around worthiness and self-esteem. And I am finding that so do many, many others, both men and women.

I met a woman the other day who told me she moved to California from New York forty years ago. When I asked her what brought her out here, she shared in lengthy detail the traumas of her childhood, still fresh in her mind like they had happened yesterday. The anger, bitterness, and resentment after all this time were still raw for her. Most of us aren’t that expressive, especially to a complete stranger, yet many of us hold onto some very deep childhood hurts for far too long.

Am I pro-life? You bet. I believe most of us believe in the sanctity of life. It is sacred and beautiful and miraculous. Just think about how any of us came to be here – who could ever have imagined an egg and a sperm united to create each one of us?

Am I pro-choice? You bet. We all deserve the right to choose what to do with our bodies and our lives are precious too. Do I have any less right to live my life on my terms than anyone else?

In the over two decades since my abortion, I have been on both sides of this conversation. What I have found after being in both places is that I actually am in reality in both places. I value life AND I believe in a person’s right to choose.
I have been studying abortion for over a decade and what I have concluded is that there isn’t a person I have yet to meet who isn’t both pro-life and pro-choice. We think that abortion, like euthanasia, war, poverty, and violence, is a black and white issue… but it’s not. It’s full of story, nuance and lots of gray areas. Maybe the real story behind this question is not which side we are on, but what we do to honor the life that is here already.



PS: Here is a link to a short movie (21 minutes) with actor James Cromwell that I saw this week about taking sides. It’s current and powerful. Can you imagine a world where we lived in unity instead of separation?


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