Pro-Choice and Pro-Life, Learning to Co-Exist
As soon as I heard about the March for Women's Lives, during my freshman year at Georgetown University, I began planning the poster I would march with. There was never any question that I would be participating. I was terrified by the possibility of the government being able to make me carry a pregnancy to term against my wishes, terrified by the tales of back-alley abortions with hangers and ammonia. I had some friends who shared my convictions and we left campus together on a gloriously sunny spring day.
The mall was packed with the bodies of over a million women, women who had driven from every corner of the United States to protect their right to choose. I had never seen such a diverse crowd. I saw sights I had never witnessed in my sheltered life. There were gay women French kissing and breastfeeding mothers with bared breasts. But what I remember most from that day is not our differences, but rather the power of our voices united with purpose, shouting, "Keep your laws out of my womb."
We walked all the way back to Georgetown at the end of the day, still chanting with our raw voices, oblivious to the changing mood as the crowds on the streets thinned. We were still high from the excitement of the day when we sat down at dinner in the cafeteria. The other girls we shared a floor with had saved us seats at our usual table. We squeezed in, still wearing our Pro-Choice t-shirts, overlooking how brazen our wardrobe was at a conservative Jesuit university.
Oddly enough, the fight didn't come from a stranger, it came from a friend, a girl we'd been hanging out with for months, commiserating over callous boys, cramming for tests with, someone we thought we knew. She blew up with outrage, asking us how we could sleep at night, condoning murder.
With just a few hateful words, our friend transformed into a pro-life zealot, and we transformed in her eyes into casual killers. We sat frozen at opposite ends of the table, glaring at each other.
We almost walked away then, stepping away from the beginning of a strong bond. Fortunately, a more diplomatic friend changed the topic before irreparable harm was done, but not before I witnessed the condemning stares of many around the table.
Before that day, Pro-Life had just been a label I affixed on groups I witnessed on TV demonstrating outside of abortion clinics. At the dining room table, I learned an important lesson as we flirted with ending our friendship, but ended up walking away with a better understanding of each other's viewpoints. We all realized that it is possible to be friends with different belief systems, and that disagreeing without judgement can actually enrich each others viewpoints.