Eavesdropping at Starbucks

<%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?

4 thoughts on “Eavesdropping at Starbucks

  1. Laura Coppersmith

    A woman is created with an inate ability to "mother" and a desire (nomatter how squelched or ruined by others) to take care of her own offspring.
    It is not natural nor beneficial to cut off this God given privelege. Society has done women a GREAt injustice by making them think that a baby is a burden. In most cases of abortion it is NOT the woman’s desire at all but a forced decision by external factors such as boyfriend, family, friends, employers, finances, and in some cases even churches and schools.
    The woman is told that the baby she is carrying is nothing but a mass of tissue. Countless woman who have been presured and decieved into abortion live with medical problems and regret and guilt for the rest of thier life.
    Pro-Choice may claim to be all about women’s rights but the whole picture is hardly ever presented and the choice left to the woman herself.
    As a strong prolifer and a woman, my heart BREAKS for both the woman and the child who are BOTH victims of this tragic line of thinking. God help us…

  2. Ed Post author

    I think that you have hit on something in your comment:

    "In most cases of abortion it is NOT the woman’s desire at all but a forced decision by external factors such as boyfriend, family, friends, employers, finances, and in some cases even churches and schools."

    In light of this, how can we be both pro-woman and pro-baby in our bid to be pro-life, but not pro-control?

  3. Jamie Voss

    In a sobering experience, I stood outside an abortion clinic, there to pray and observe, and witnessed frightened women coming in to the clinic, harrassed by Christian pro-life demonstrators. One demonstrator declared "God will not be mocked." Another affronted her with graphic photos of abortions. I spoke with the demonstrators, and listened as they spoke of the "saves" they had made that month- women who decided not to get an abortion (that day.) My heart felt like breaking as I saw that not one of the Christian protesters stayed to be with the women AFTER the abortion when the women needed comfort, forgiveness and healing. The Christians left at noon- after the abortions had started for the day. No one was there to meet with the women when they needed Jesus most- after they were hurting, and had been through a traumatic ordeal. I began thinking about the "saves" and wondering how many spiritual lives were totally disregarded and lost by the actions of Christians that day.
    I believe that if Christians were meeting the women with compassion both before AND after the abortion, showing them where to get help and counseling after the abortion, a lot more eternal lives (and in turn physical lives) would be saved.

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