An Open Letter to All Those Who Call Themselves Pro-Life
…including my best friend.
I can easily point out the day, date and time when I started calling myself a feminist. Two years ago I read a newspaper article about how a fourteen-year-old girl had been raped and then denied an abortion. This story angered me, it gave me shivers to know that I live in a world where people so casually deny women the right to their own bodies. It was at that moment that I decided I was a feminist, and that I hated people who wanted to take away my rights and give it to a fetus who was using my body to survive without my consent.
From that point on, I lived under a canopy of my staunch belief that people who are anti-choice do not deserve my respect. It is so easy to fold your arms across your chest and pass judgement in your mind, dividing people into two groups: for/love and against/hate. The people who do not agree with something you passionately believe in go on the side of people you detest and the ones who agree with you become your new best friends.
Then something unexpected happened. I found out that my best friend was against abortions.
She was against women having bodily autonomy and having a right to decide what they wish to do with their own bodies. This news both vexed and confused me. This was the person who always stood by me, even when I made terrible mistakes. The person who was my very first friend on my first day of elementary school. The person who would commiserate with me after each bad date.
We now stood on the opposite side of one my biggest battlegrounds. How could I simply drop this person into one of the well-divided sides in my mind? I couldn’t.
She called herself ‘pro-life’ for a reason. She was against abortion for a reason. And I hadn’t realized that everyone had a life experience, beyond what I could superficially see, that created the path to their current beliefs. When my best friend’s mother had a miscarriage, she lost her unborn sister, whom she had already started to love. I have never gone through anything like this, but I can see how it could change a person’s opinion about things.
I am feverishly against people dictating what I should do with my life. So how can I expect someone else to do what I want them to and to believe in what I think is right?
We can learn something priceless from everyone if we’re open to it. Because of my best friend’s story, I learned the power of acceptance and respect. I learned to respect the people who held beliefs that did a poor job of aligning with mine — as long as their views aren’t based on fear or hatred. I learned to ask, and learn from, the question: why?
It is because of the existence of contrasting people that the world can paint beautiful, abstract images of life. I know it’s a cliché, but life is truly lived in the gray. I do not want a world where symmetry is the only route to a good life, I do not want a world like Paris under Napoleon III. I want a world where we all can have our opinions heard, and where we all can paint the pictures of our choice.
So here are a few words to my best friend, and all those who call themselves pro-life: I respect your belief and I hope you respect mine too.