<%image(20050317-coffee.jpg|116|80|coffee)%> Hanging out at Starbucks the other night, Julie and I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation. As Julie was supposed to be working on her paper for Grad School and I was doing research, we were in the perfect position to eavesdrop.
This older fellah sat down in one of the big comfy chairs accross from a young woman who was quietly reading a book. Though this guy sat there on the pretense of plugging in his lap top, he seemed to want to chat (don’t worry, we only stalk people if we find them interesting to us . . .).
In any case they hit up a conversation on politics and religion and who’s knows what else. Though Julie followed it very closely, I only heard snippets such as, “Bush is an ass,” “I grew up Catholic,” etc. They were both very talkative people, so it was amusing how they almost talked over each other and didn’t seem to care. For example, he asked her what she thought of the ten commandments, and right in the middle of her reply he bellowed, “Why not 11? Why not 12 or 20?” As if we would beg God for more things that we can’t do! I don’t even know what he was getting at besides the undisputed status of “obnoxious.”
Yet what struck me about this conversation was the topic of abortion. The young woman, though Catholic in upbringing, strongly supported the pro-choice/pro-abortion movement. Her statement was something like this: “I don’t want anyone telling me what to do with MY body!”
I’ve heard this line before, but to hear it from one person in a more personable setting and not some fired up protest, it had a new force. I imagined a group of pro-life people surrounding this woman ordering her around during her pregnancy, giving her rules to follow. It hit me that she views pro-life people as oppressive and threatening to her. They care so much for the baby, but they basically want to control her.
For a moment I slipped into her perspective and saw how threatening the pro-life movement can seem. While I see myself as wanting to save life, she sees me as a threat to her freedom. She thinks that my strategy to save a baby involves controlling women, who already feel kicked around enough in our society. In trying to free the innocent and helpless, we have by-passed the mother who feels innocent, helpless, and out of control.
Control, control, control, so much of life comes down to control. What would it look like to be pro-life for both baby and mother, while maintaining a strong position of “anti-control”? How will I respond to the next woman I talk to who feels threatened by my pro-life stance?