By Sade Patterson, SFLA Correspondent
There are always those unseen and unheard stories from big events that never make the news but are interesting and compelling. Everyone who attends enormous events will have one to tell.
I attended the annual March for Life this past Friday and I indeed have my own story, one that even surprised me.
The crowd was enormous, a strong wave that flooded Constitution Ave., and the voices of Millennials seemed to be loud enough to be heard in every corner of the city. The energy was electric and contagious with every step towards the Supreme Court. Slowly, thousands of Millennials filled the space in front of the Supreme Court steps, overflowing over the sidewalk and touching the grass of the Capitol. Protesters made a thin line on the curb that divided pro-lifers from each other, standing side-by-side ready to defend abortion rights.
After photographing most of the march and encounters with protesters, I found myself behind the opposition. My co-worker was speaking to four college-aged women who were each holding a bright pink sign that read, “Keep Abortion Safe and Legal.” I decided to join the conversation, which ironically had nothing to do with abortion.
After getting to know the women a bit, I asked the simple question, “What’s your perspective on abortion?”
They explained that they supported abortion, especially if it was healthier for the mother. This gave me a great opportunity to discuss the risks of abortion, to which they were open to hearing. I referenced my local late-term abortion clinic’s consent form in Albuquerque, NM, and how it describes an abortion after 18 weeks to be more dangerous than actually caring the baby to term.
I got an apathetic reaction, which I expected, since understanding the risks of an abortion is not usually tangible.
At this point, I asked if I could explain the perspective of the pro-life movement. I chose to ask this because just feet away there was a preacher with a bullhorn yelling at and condemning pro-choice activists, and I didn’t want these women to walk away not knowing who the pro-life movement really is.
“We are not here to make decisions for women, but rather hoping to inform women of choices other than abortion so they can make an informed decision.”
This interested them so I went on.
“I work at a pregnancy resource center where we offer free resources to pregnant women in need to become self-sufficient and to feel supported enough to choose adoption or become parents while continuing their education or career.”
At that point, the woman who was most engaged in the conversation had a completely different expression on her face. At first she was curious and guarded, but she had now opened up and had a sense of interest in her eyes. She was moved, and she told me how amazing that was to hear.
I shared with her and her friends that I was once in the shoes of a woman who faced the decision of abortion when I found myself pregnant in my sophomore year of college.
If it hadn’t been for Students for Life of America’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative I can’t say with confidence what choice I would have made.
“I share this with you because I want you to know that the pro-life movement has the mission to love both the woman and her baby. Many of us know the struggles of an unplanned pregnancy, and we want women to feel empowered enough to not have to choose between their goals and their child.”
In that moment of the conversation the chanting and yelling in the background had faded, and we were so deeply engaged in this conversation. I noticed a reporter and camerawoman from ABC News had been filing our conversation.
“I love how genuine and sincere your approach is” she told me with excitement in her eyes and a growing smile on her face. I was thankful that the reporter had captured a positive encounter between a pro-life and a pro-choice advocate, and hoped that it would encourage others to find common ground I their conversations and always respect each other.
I was very thankful to have found common ground with these young women, which was that all women deserve to be informed of their decisions and deserve more than abortion.
However, since these women are now aware of the risks of abortion and the alternative options that are readily available, they cannot logically continue to be “pro-woman” and defend abortion. Even though we found common ground in that we all love women, being pro-woman begins in the womb and continues her entire life.
When we recognize that women deserve protection and equality in all stages of life we will be a culture that truly empowers and supports women.