With the latest passing of HB 2 in Texas, there has been a lot of abortion debate.
Throughout the debates I’ve been reading and watching on the news, I’ve heard some troubling things.
There are a lot of “pro-lifers” out there that keep saying things along the lines of “I don’t understand how anyone can get an abortion”
That makes me shudder!
Honestly, that’s the most ignorant and inconsiderate thing someone can say.
Let me explain….because I’m sure some of you pro-lifers are wondering where I’m going with this.
Don’t get me wrong, before my own unplanned pregnancy I’m pretty positive I was one of those “pro-lifers” that would say ignorant things like “I just don’t understand how anyone could ever kill their child” or “how can anyone get an abortion, it’s so unthinkable and cruel”
Have any of you ever sinned? Done something wrong? Been embarassed? Lied? Cheated?
If you said yes…than all I have to say is WOW.
UNTHINKABLE! How could you ever do such a thing! I don’t get it.
I don’t UNDERSTAND what would ever drive you to do such a thing.
How do you live with yourself??
(hopefully you can see I’m being very sarcastic to get at a point here)
Any time someone says “I don’t UNDERSTAND why someone would get an abortion” (emphasis on UNDERSTAND) that person is literally discrediting and devaluing the very delicate emotions a woman in a crisis pregnancy is going through. Especially by verbally stating that you don’t understand, it breaks any influence you could have had on this “woman who is considering abortion”.
Let me make something very clear.
Understanding someone DOES NOT mean that you agree with them. It simply means that you can humble yourself enough to see through another person’s eyes, to feel their emotions, to acknowledge the fear, anxiety, anger, shame, etc.
Understanding is being empathetic.
Again…it is not agreeing with someone, it is hearing them.
In fact, one of the very first things I learned in my training as an advisor at the pregnancy resource center was how important empathy and understanding are.
If a client doesn’t think you UNDERSTAND them, there is no way in hell they are going to disclose anything personal to you or let you have any influence over them. Understanding someone is the basic premise of respecting someone.
When you were a kid, do you ever remember yelling at your parents “you just don’t understand!”
Ya…. and do you remember that when your parents didn’t understand you, how much you hated them for that, and how LITTLE you listened to them?
Ok, the same goes for ummm EVERYONE.
In fact, the very first thing I learned in graduate school for being a professional counselor was…(you guessed it) HOW IMPORTANT EMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING ARE!
In my program, during our practicum, students have been dismissed from the program if they can’t show empathy or understanding.
Imagine if a client went to a counselor for some problem they are having. Let’s say it’s a girl who is overweight is acting out at school and her grades are dropping. She is also being bullied at school and being made fun of for her weight. What if that counselor said to her “Ya, I don’t really understand why you keep acting out. Just doesn’t make any sense. How can you let this bullying affect your school. I just don’t understand”
Ha!! What a joke, do you think that counselor would be effective??? Heck no!
The same goes for the pro-life movement.
Every time a pro-lifer makes the mistake of saying “I don’t understand how anyone could get an abortion” they are directly disrespecting these women, and completely crushing any connection they could have had. That girl considering an abortion is NEVER going to respond to that pro-lifer because they just said “they don’t understand”. If they don’t understand, why would she ever listen to him/her.
Pro-lifers need to remember some basic respect and understanding if they EVER want to make a change.
In case you still don’t understand why a girl might consider abortion…here are some scenarios from REAL women I’ve met (minor details are change to protect privacy)
- 15 yr. old girl gets pregnant after her first time having sex. She already lives in a broken household with no father and 4 siblings. They are barely getting by. Her older sister has already had an unplanned pregnancy and is living at home with them and her baby boy. She has seen how hard it is to get by and how much strain it has put on the family emotionally and financially. Her mom keeps threatening to kick her older sister out, and swears that if anyone else ever gets pregnant she will kick them out. This girl’s boyfriend is 15 also, he has no job, and he regularly gets drunk and smokes pot. Oh, and he told her to get an abortion or he’ll leave. (Can you possibly understand why abortion might cross her mind??)
- A Somali girl, age 17 is raped and becomes pregnant. She is a part of a refugee center and barely speaks english. She can’t seem to find a job and her culture is very harsh in their treatment of women. If they found out she is pregnant out of wedlock (regardless of how she became pregnant) she will be completely disowned. (Can you understand why she might want an abortion?)
- A 35 yr. old woman becomes unexpectedly pregnant after a horrible divorce. She already has kids in middle school and high school. After recently becoming divorced she is having a hard time getting on her feet. It was an ugly divorce and this pregnancy would just make things more complicated with her now ex-husband. She doesn’t want any reason to be attache to him anymore. (Can you understand why she might consider abortion?)
- How about almost every other single girl who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. She is scared, embarrassed, ashamed, and fearful of what others will think. That’s enough to consider an abortion
Do you understand now? (Remember: understanding is not agreeing)
I completely understand why any and all of these women are considering an abortion. But that doesn’t mean I agree with them, but I can still empathize with them.
When someone can empathize with our suffering, they gain access to our heart, and that is where change occurs.
If you remember any role model or leader that had a huge influence on you, it is probably because they empathized with you and UNDERSTOOD you. They listened and acknowledged your feelings.
For example: Jesus came and DIED and SUFFERED so that we might be saved.
And guess what…he UNDERSTANDS temptation, and suffering, and death. And that’s why Jesus has such an influence over my life…because he understands me.
So, take a lesson from Jesus and be understanding of these women who are considering abortion. Understanding someone is also respecting someone and loving someone, and when someone feels loved, understood, and respected, then they are open to hearing truth.
Understanding is the first step to making a difference in the pro-life movement.
Speaking truth in a loving way means we are understanding.
So, never make the mistake of saying “I don’t understand why someone would get an abortion” because if you really cared and loved these women, the least you would do is understand where they’re coming from.