Abortion is one of those topics that will divide a group of people down the middle. There's no real middle ground - you're either pro-choice or pro-life, and those on either side will argue their case at any and every opportunity that is presented. But what about those people who change their mind? Is that even possible?
It may come as a surprise, but there are a growing number of former pro-lifers who, for whatever reason, decided to see things differently. Whether it was an experience of their own or seeing some members of the movement for who they really are, the people in the following four stories took a step back and realized that there was more to life than telling a woman that she has to risk her life in order to give birth to a child.
This young girl thought she knew everything she needed to know about abortion because of what her boyfriend was feeding her, but luckily her mom stepped in with a harrowing tale about the importance of access to safe abortions.
"When I was around 12 or 13, I was getting snotty about abortion because I had a boyfriend who was an Evangelical, and he was warping my mind (he was gay but faking being ultra-devout). My mother heard me and decided to sit me down and tell me about her best friend.
My mom was a teenager before Roe v. Wade, and one of her very dearest friends died of a botched abortion. The girl had been violated by her father and gotten pregnant twice from it before, but this time the pregnancy stuck. She didn't want to have the social stigma of being an unwed teen mom and she admitted to my mother she didn't want to give birth to her own sibling, so she took a glass coke bottle and rammed it into her cervix and shattered it thinking it would cause a miscarriage, but instead she got sepsis and died.
This girl was only 16, and her father was a local cop, so he would have never faced justice. I am very pro-choice now and will always fight to make certain no other child ever has that happen to them."
This Redditor came to realize that there are more effective ways of preventing abortions than protesting women's clinics. Instead of shaming women for making the choice, she learned to find ways to educate young women so that they don't have to worry about making that choice in the first place.
"I came to realize two things about the 'pro-life' movement.
First, it is not really pro-life. Most of the energy in this movement is about abortion. We are in wars and executing prisoners and oppressing the poor and marginalized. Those are lives too.
Secondly, pregnancy prevention through contraception and education is the most effective way to prevent abortion. And this information is willfully ignored in favor of 'abstinence-only' programs. In reality, pro-life is really about 'You should only have sex on my terms.'
That's a problem for me. If the entire movement is predicated on there being only one life worth preserving (fetus) and only one way to save it (all pregnancies carried to term), then that is a movement full of dogmatic, ethical, logical, and moral flaws. And I can't support that.
We should have comprehensive and sensible sex education, available contraceptive care, and we should recognize that if we are bringing children into this world, then the resources to care for them need to exist."
It took this Redditor several years and a failed marriage to realize that she didn't have to subscribe to her spouse's views on morality or theology. After listening to endless sermons on abortion and reading thousands of pamphlets on why it is a sin, she gave up and found a new way of thinking.
"Research. I married into a hardcore conservative family, and after we had kids, my husband (now ex) shifted that way as well. I learned after we had kids that he was part of a group before we were married that pledged to end abortion in any way they could, including killing abortion doctors. Some of the members of this group were even convicted for the role in bombing abortion clinics.
He and his family voted ONLY on the abortion line. If I suggested I was voting another way, I was sat down and talked to, even though my choices had NOTHING to do with the abortion issue. I just believed that the abortion issue wouldn't affect the duties of the county sheriff. Every church service had abortion thrown into it. I was given all sorts of pamphlets and articles about being pro-life. Things like babies being carried to term with no skull cap and how blessed they were that their baby lived for eight hours rather than aborting when they found out. How the mother and baby died when the mother could have lives, and they knew it was so the mother could present her precious soul to Jesus, despite having eight other children at home (they also didn't believe in birth control, because that was a form of abortion too). The more they shoved these things at me (I was pro-life at the time, just not as hardcore as they were), the more I realized how sometimes, maybe it was better off to not be pro-life.
And then I got out of the religion and out of the relationship and stopped believing in God and realized I was only pro-life because I thought the fetus had a soul, but if I don't believe in that, why is abortion murder? It isn't sustainable on its own in any form in the first half of the pregnancy, so why does it matter? And why is it my choice if it doesn't matter? And when there are so many born children that are not cared for, why should we force a person to carry to term when we can't even sustain what we have? And why are people pressured into carrying full term with stuff like skull caps missing, even if it is religious pressure?
I don't want any more kids, my husband refuses to get things snipped, we barely make ends meet, we both work full time, my best friend just got pregnant despite being on the pill AND doing the morning after pill, and my sister got pregnant on the pill and with protection. If that happened to me 10 years ago, I would have scoffed and said, 'Hey, I'm pro-life but anti-abortion and would never have an abortion myself.'
Now, I'm not so sure."
Once this Redditor realized that "pro-life" actually meant "pro-birth" and nothing more for those around her, she gave up on the lifestyle and turned a new leaf.
"When I first heard about abortion it was presented as 'abortion=murder,' and I thought, 'I don't like murder, so I don't like this either.' I also thought that if you get pregnant then you were just going to have to take responsibility for your actions, and if you don't want a child just give up a baby for adoption. But this ignored the nine months it would take to carry a baby to term and also seemed to make light of adoption.
Then I started to realize that the same people who where 'pro-life' were also in favor of a small government, and I thought, 'How can they say they don't want the government in their business and telling them what to do, but at the same time are perfectly fine with the government being in other people's business and telling others what to do with their body?' It didn't seem right for me to tell others what to do with their body just because I wouldn't do the same for mine. I wouldn't want someone else to do the same thing to me.
Then I started to listen to the other language they used and realized that they didn't really care about the person who had to carry a baby to term or who would be responsible for raising them, they just care that a baby would be born. They don't consider how much it costs to have a baby or to raise a child or if a parent even has the resources to do so. It seemed like 'pro-life' people weren't interested in developing any measures to prevent people from getting pregnant or make it so that a person wouldn't even consider having an abortion. It was more like saying, 'Just don't do it. We're not going to provide you with accurate sex education or birth control or anything, but if you get pregnant, it's your fault, and once the baby is born, you're on your own. Oh, and then we're going to demonize you if you become a poor single parent.'
Finally, I realized that people don't make the decision to have an abortion lightly, there's usually a number of reasons behind it. It's not like people are so eager to have the procedure because being pro-choice doesn't mean that your pro-abortion. It also scared me that people who were supposedly 'pro-life' would be willing to stand outside an abortion clinic and threaten others with violence or actually commit acts of violence against others and still try to act as though they are morally superior."
In each of these stories, former pro-lifers thought they knew everything they needed to know about abortions, even if that meant turning a blind eye to the reasons why so many women go forward with the procedure. But through taking on a different perspective, they were able to change the way they saw the world.
If there's one takeaway from all of this it would be that sometimes all we have to do to change our thinking is to see the world through someone else's eyes.