The other day, I revealed something to a good friend that I'm sure made her fall off her chair. She was expressing her concern that McCain, if elected president, would select Supreme Court judges who would make it possible to overturn Roe v. Wade. (For the record, I think McCain is far too moderate to do that.) I was kind of quiet, and then my friend said, "You're pro choice, aren't you?" To which I answered, "No...I'm not."
She let out the biggest gasp I've ever heard. "But I always thought you were." After that, we had a very civil 15-minute conversation about the subject before returning to less controversial issues.
After we got off the phone, I was ashamed of myself. Ashamed because I have known this person for 22 years, and I've never revealed my belief to her. I had to wonder: How many other of my family and friends assume I'm pro-choice? And what was keeping me from sharing with them something in which I so strongly believe?
I'm assuming there are others out there like me: Silent folks who hold a pro-life stance deep in their hearts but don't utter it in too many conversations. What exactly is our problem?
After a lot of soul searching, I've come up with some reasons why many pro-lifers keep their opinions to themselves. Some I can definitely relate to, others I can't, but I think they're all relevant:
1.You Don't Want to Offend Anyone. As Rodney King said, "Can't we all just get along?" And since we want to get along with everyone and respect everyone's opinions, we don't want to offend anyone with our own. But when we do this, we run the risk of allowing ourselves to be offended. Is it fair to yourself or others if you sit there in silence? Why carry a heavy heart just so others won't have one?
2.You Don't Want to be Seen as 'Anti-Feminist.' This one has always been surprising to me. By supporting the greatest privilege and gift a woman has--the ability to give life--you are somehow being anit-feminist? Some argue that you want to deny a woman control over her body? Actually, she has the greatest control before she gets pregnant!
3. You'll be Labeled a Religious Fanatic. Heaven forbid someone thinks that your belief is based on your faith! Keep in mind, though, that saying "It's against my religion" is not enough of a reason to be pro-life. Why does your religion oppose abortion? Do you agree with the reasoning and not just the declaration?
4. You'll Have to Get Into the Sticky Topic of Under What Circumstances, if Any, Abortion Should be Allowable. This is indeed a sticky situation. Do you believe it's okay in cases of incest or rape or when there is a potential threat to the health of the mother? Again, you have to have some basis for your argument, and you have to be sympathetic to the rare but nevertheless very real circumstances in which some women find themselves.
5. You're Afraid You'll Lose Friends or Family Members Who Disagree With You. What if you say something about being pro-life and your friend doesn't want to talk to you anymore? But your friend is pro-choice, and you haven't abandoned her, right?
I have known all along that many of my friends are pro-choice. That hasn't stopped me from being friends with them. I wouldn't expect anything less from them.
The shame is that if I had vocalized my opinion, we might have had a meaningful discussion about life and abortion.
It's not too late. After my friend got over the shock that I was pro-life, we talked a lot about both sides of the controversy. And we actually found common ground. We concluded that with all the talk that goes on about abortion, not enough is being said about how to avoid the situation in the first place. Maybe when opposing sides come together in a humane and dignified way, they can find common ground about how to solve a problem. But that can't happen unless we overcome our fear and speak up.