Discourse around hot topics like abortion is hard to come by nowadays, especially among young adults. We as a society are so afraid of offending each other that we hide our beliefs or stay silent when we should be speaking up. However, I believe that conversations among those with differing views are vital. This is because the act of discussing and defending your own beliefs further solidifies those ideas for yourself, as well as makes others question their own. This is exactly what I sat down to do with my fellow classmate, teammate and friend Gabbi Taylor. We are both well aware that we share opposite opinions on just about anything politically or socially in the world, but we still respect each other despite that. Now I want to take you into the conversation to hear how we listened, questioned and learned about each other’s view on abortion.
Note: Pro-life activists tend to promote the protection of life by banning abortions, while pro-choice activists promote that abortion is the woman’s right and protect the right to choose to have an abortion. Note that many pro-choice advocates are not necessarily pro-abortion. I stand on the side of pro-life and Gabbi stands on the side of pro-choice. This article is NOT meant to prove who is right and who is wrong, but merely is a way to show that these conversations can happen, even between college students.
The first question towards me was why are you pro-life? I answered that with three major reasons from my own background: my adoption, my faith and my ideology. Since I was adopted, my birth mother obviously didn’t want me, so I could have easily been aborted, but I wasn’t. I am forever thankful for that, which further pushes me toward the pro-life side. I am also a practicing Catholic which means I believe that the main purpose of sex is for procreation. (However, the Catholic church teaches that sex has a dual purpose of unity and procreation where they cannot be separated, but I will be focusing on the latter.) Meaning that you should only have sex if you intend to keep the child if you become pregnant. I also believe that God creates life and that life should not be destroyed once made. Finally, my ideology encapsulates my faith but also my morals and scientific background. I believe that life begins at conception—the sperm cell and egg cell come together and fertilization occurs. So once this occurs, I believe that human life has been created. Thus, as a human person, the baby has rights and should not be murdered.
Switching it over to Gabbi, I asked her why are you pro-choice? She responded first that she doesn’t know what is going on in someone’s life and she herself is unaffected by their healthcare choices, therefore she shouldn’t have the power to dictate what they do. We live in a country where people can make their own decisions, so why should she tell them what to do? In terms of her scientific background, she believes that her life has priority over an embryo and a zygote, which would be supported by her body until it can be born and survive on its own. She also doesn’t want to ban abortions because there are many situations where children—who could have been aborted or who were born without the mother being mentally and physically ready—end up in horrible situations within the foster care system or with parents who are mentally and financially unstable to care for them. Thus, she wants others to be free to discern whether they are in a good place to have a child instead of putting the child in jeopardy. It is also important to mention that being pro-choice is not equivalent to being pro-abortion, it just means that people have the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies and choose how to handle the consequences of their own actions
After listening to each other, we discussed what we may agree on and what we definitely disagree on. I share the idea of not really caring what others do because it doesn’t affect me. However, I value an embryo/zygote as an equal to myself and other humans on this planet where we shouldn’t tamper with the potential that the child could have. Gabbi then questioned this by asking “wouldn’t the mom lose a lot of potential due to becoming pregnant?” My response was that the mom had a choice to have sex or not, fully knowing that there was a chance she could become pregnant; thus, she should live with the consequences of that original choice. I also believe that many of the resources that go towards legal abortions should be reallocated to helping young mothers who are not ready to take care of their children and to the adoption/foster care systems. Gabbi’s argument on this topic is that we should focus more on the potential of those who are already functioning members of society rather than the unborn. She believes that the argument discussing abortion is just putting off taking care of the people that are already out of the womb. Additionally, Gabbi believes that people have to deal with the traumatic and difficult consequences of an abortion, so policymakers should not be the ones who decide which consequences people need to endure.
This led our discussion to the topic of sex where Gabbi asked why do you think sex should be for procreation and why is the purpose of pleasure undesirable? My initial comment was that I don’t think pleasure is undesirable in sex, but I don’t think it’s the function. The pleasure that sex gives two people is positive and good, but it isn’t the purpose of the act. Gabbi followed up with “why do you care about the function [of sex]?” To answer that, it went back to my faith that God creates anything and everything with and for a purpose. Pleasure and other health benefits are great effects of sex, but I don’t think you can engage in sex without the idea of procreation. However, Gabbi didn’t think it was fair for me to incorporate religion into my argument pertaining to sex since not everyone believes in my God. Thus, I cannot justify that sex is only for procreation because God intended it to be that way since not everyone believes in God and shouldn’t suffer the consequences of sex based on personal, religious reasoning. My response to this idea is that from a more scientific standpoint, structure generally determines function. Thus, our structure or organs in our body are made to have children and thus that would be the main function of those particular body parts. For Gabbi from a biological perspective, there are many animals who have sex for pleasure. This means, from an evolutionary standpoint, sex is not only for procreation. She also believes that the act of sex is viewed very differently among men and women due to the patriarchy. Women are seen as less desirable when they have sex for pleasure because, under this patriarchy, a woman’s sole purpose is to procreate. On the other hand, men can have sex for pleasure and are respected for doing so. Overall, she thinks sex should be empowering for both men and women where it is healthy and destigmatized, and not just for procreation. However, if a person does become pregnant from having sex for pleasure, then they should have the choice to deal with the consequences how they want either by having an abortion or having the baby.
Again we discussed what we may agree on. I also believe that sex is viewed very differently for women versus men and that is not okay since sex involves two partners. Both partners, in this discussion a man and woman, should have equal responsibility for their actions and therefore the consequences. I think the idea that sex’s purpose is for procreation should also be followed by men, when in the past it hasn’t been followed well in our world. Gabbi wasn’t sure if this made sense since this is a traditional Catholic viewpoint; so how can this reasoning be applied to a general population? I responded that since, from a biological standpoint, our bodies—both men’s and women’s—have specific organs and hormones whose purpose is to have a child and reproduce. What she thinks we disagree on is that those in our world who have left the womb can make their own decisions. She also brought up the point that “there are so many people in poverty and there are so many other issues that we need to be focusing more on than trying to dictate what people want to do with their health care choices.” And abortions will occur whether they are legal or not, so it makes sense to protect the people who are having abortions by offering them safe ones.
We went on to discuss abortion with religion and the state. Gabbi mentioned how she thought it would be unethical to dictate to someone to not get an abortion based upon that person’s religious beliefs. She believes this is an important distinction between the church and the state, especially in policymaking. My response to this idea was that the pro-life stance does not have to be religious, it can be scientific. I reiterated that I believe life begins when the sperm cell and egg cell come together to form an embryo. I strongly promote the idea of life vs. living. Where a good distinction between an embryo and any other cell in our body is that an embryo is a life, while a skin cell is living. That is why we can shed a bunch of previously living (now dead) skin cells, and that action is not killing any life. Gabbi responded with the idea that for a good portion of pregnancy, the child could not survive on its own if born. Thus, because she would have to give the child the ability to function—with food, blood, oxygen and etc.—then it should be her choice whether or not to get an abortion. Gabbi explains that the embryo still has value, but it is in the woman’s body and its development relies on the woman so it should be the woman’s decision whether or not to get an abortion. My counter was that when the embryo exists, it technically has all the necessary materials (DNA, characteristics of life, etc.) to become a fully functioning human.
Overall, this conversation could have lasted two more hours than it did but alas it had to end. However, I think that both Gabbi and I learned a lot about why we both believe what we believe. We were able to share our opinions, question each others’ ideas and engage respectfully in some discourse. I now encourage you to go to a friend—someone who either agrees or disagrees with you—and sit down with a nice cup of coffee to have a conversation about anything. It can be serious, or it can be superficial, but it just needs to be real. From debating immigration policies to discussing if a hot dog is actually a type of sandwich, gather a few friends and have some healthy disagreements. Question each other; don’t be afraid to dig deep and cause someone to think more about what they believe in. These types of interactions are so important for our society and for us as college students to form our opinions, intellect, and morals for our next step in life.