4 Myths about Pro-Lifers, Debunked
Myth #1: We’re against abortion even when it endangers the mother.
The majority of pro-lifers (60%) believe that abortion should be legal in some circumstances, such as when the mother’s life is at stake. So, yes — we generally support the 13% of abortions that are related to the mother’s health.
In addition, even the Catholic Church — which tends to espouse extreme pro-life positions — believes medical procedures that kill the fetus can be performed if they save the mother, as per Directive 47:
Operations, treatments, and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.
So, next time you debate with a pro-lifer, please ask her if she actually supports endangering the mother before assuming anything. (If she says yes, then hit her with your best shot. Proverbially, of course... although literally is tempting.)
Myth #2: We all come with the same set of beliefs: anti-same sex marriage, anti-feminist…
I’m pro-life and pro-same sex marriage. This combination isn’t as rare as you might think — there are many articles online written from the pro-life, pro-marriage equality viewpoint. (The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians is also a real organization that exists.)
The pro-life movement is even more divided on issues of religion (only about 24% of pro-lifers are Catholic)**, the death penalty, and feminism.
Myth #3: We’re all old, white men that can’t get with the times.
There’s actually a surprisingly small gender gap when it comes to abortion (about a 55/45 split). And that gap only started emerging in 2012 — from 2001–2011, there was virtually none.
In addition, 42% of millenials think abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, which is close to the national average. And 45% of Hispanic millenials believe abortion is always morally wrong — more than whites (35%).
So, yes, the pro-life crowd is slightly more male and slightly older (and slightly less white). But that doesn’t give you the right to insist I’m a stodgy old man.
Myth #4: We hate women who are considering or have had an abortion, and our main goal is to judge and slut-shame.
Pregnancy, in of itself, is terrifying — even for older, married women who have the financial means to raise a baby. I can’t even imagine how scary it is when one or more of those things is gone. We’re not judging you for your fear, and we don’t think you’re evil or selfish for considering abortion. And we have better things to worry about than how many men (and/or women) you slept with.
I’ve seen the seemingly-hateful picketers outside Planned Parenthood. I, too, have thought “ugh, they want to protest a ton, but they don’t actually want to help with the baby if it’s born.” Actually, though, there are many pregnancy crisis centers around the country — which usually exist because of pro-life volunteers or donations. I’ve volunteered at a few centers (Birthright and 1st Choice in NJ), and they were welcoming, well-supplied, and compassionate.
We don’t hate you, think you’re evil, or care about your sexual history. We just want to stop (what we see as) the death of an innocent life.
The goal of this article is not to persuade people — it’s to clear up some existing stereotypes about myself and other pro-lifers. Likewise, pro-lifers should make an effort to understand the exact positions of pro-choicers. Total understanding of each other’s positions is the first step to more fruitful, productive, and fun discussion.
** Little data about the religious spread of pro-lifers was available online. However, we can apply Bayes’ rule, using the fact that 54% of American Catholics were pro-life in 2012, 22% of Americans are Catholic, and 50% of Americans in 2012 were pro-life: (0.54*0.22)/(0.50) = 0.2376.