By Anna Fata, Pro-Life Future Chapter NYC
I had just celebrated my three-month anniversary as a New Yorker when I was invited to help launch Pro-Life Future NYC. I was settled, finally sorta understood my new job, and even made some friends to celebrate the weekends via boozy brunch. But apart from occasionally sharing my spare change when it was convenient, I wasn’t using any of my gifts to better my new community. I also had very limited engagement in the pro-life movement.
FYI: I’m from Texas. In my hometown, you can throw a rock and you’re bound to hit 10 people who identify as pro-life. I suppose I never felt impelled to actively fight for the pro-life cause because the need didn’t seem too urgent.
But I was wrong. The need is urgent, even in a place as conventionally pro-life as Texas.
In fact, if there is anything I have learned in the past three months since helping launch Pro-Life Future NYC, it is that stereotypes are useless in the pro-life movement.
Society has us believing that the quintessential pro-life activist is a homeschooling mom, an evangelical, or white-haired conservative man in Washington, D.C. Not to discredit those important groups, but the faces of the pro-life movement are far more varied.
I’m proud to say members of Pro-Life Future NYC make for a very diverse ensemble, but can you expect any less from New York? I was listening to our committee members introduce themselves in our last meeting and I was struck by all the different accents around me. Seven nationalities were represented in a room of 12 people. In fact, the room was comprised of Christians and atheists, lawyers and artists, Republicans and Democrats, equal parts male and female.
I think our diversity demonstrates the fact that protecting the unborn isn’t merely a conservative issue, a women’s issue, or a religious issue. It’s a human issue. And humans are diverse. They can be black, white, Jewish, Muslim, eight days in the womb, and 80 years outside. All human life is important, no matter what stage of development.
I think fighting against the stereotypes is an important battle. Abortion advocates like to paint grim pictures of pro-life activists. It helps their cause if pro-lifers are portrayed as ignorant, Bible-beating women haters. Then if you identify as pro-life, but you aren’t an ignorant, Bible-beating woman hater, you feel alone. And when you feel alone, you might second-guess your convictions. And when you second-guess your convictions, you are less likely to fight.
It also doesn’t help to have stereotypes of abortion advocates either. From my experience, they are not evil, bra-burning man haters. Apart from Margaret Sanger, I know of no Planned Parenthood employee who is intentionally condoning racism and genocide. Most I know are smart and compassionate; many are mothers and fathers themselves.
My challenge to pro-lifers around the world is to fight in a spirit of truth and understanding. Do not fight with dehumanizing propaganda. That’s what made abortion so widely accepted in the first place!
When you encounter someone with different beliefs, instead of making assumptions, it might serve us better to earnestly seek to understand them by asking why. We do not need to play the game of making abortion supporters look ugly. We are pro-life, and that includes the lives of abortion advocates. We are fighting bad ideas, not bad people. And as my very Texan grandma would say, “You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.”