Abortion reminds us grass isn’t always greener on other side

I too visited another planet last week. I put on the armor of opinion and the shield of free speech to face a battlefield in an unknown territory far outside my comfort zone. I stood behind a barrier and listened to angry people shout in my face, while I attempted to reason with rationality and peace. I passed out fliers that were thrown back in my face, while my smiles were greeted with spits.

But to be on another planet is to excuse the present evil we see every day in the world. To blindly turn away from the hatred and incivility and claim that it isn’t happening would be ignorant.

As a young woman living in a society that cares more about my bra and waist size than my heart and mind, there is nothing I defend more than women’s rights. This includes all women, especially those who cannot speak for themselves: the unborn.

And when I opened the newspaper a few days later, I was greeted by more hatred, and even worse: lies. There is something missing in all of this, a deep misunderstanding that can only be cured by a knowledge and openness to the other side of the argument. A claim that religion is the cause and that hatred and intolerance is the drive is merely an ignorant claim made without the proper research.

The Center for Bio-Ethical reform is a non-religious organization that bases their arguments solely on science. Not one mention of religion was brought up unless it was first asked by a bystander, in which case someone would respond with some derivative of “religion is not what we’re discussing, and has nothing to do with the argument.” CBR’s mission — quoted from their website abortionNO.org — states that they are “working to establish prenatal justice and the right to life for the unborn, the disabled, the infirm, the aged and all vulnerable peoples through education and the development of cutting edge educational resources.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t see the word religion anywhere in that statement.

It is a comparison of abortion to genocide — a systematic killing of a large group of people — specifically the unborn. That is the reason for the pictures of popular genocides — not to offend, never to offend. I saw many people misinterpret this comparison, and to reiterate: if something is comparable that does not exactly mean it is identical.

The purpose of every one of these presentations that has been on campus for the past three years is to demonstrate with visual imagery what abortion really is. To show pictures — not of back-alley abortions — but of surgical facility procedures of abortions, those done in Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics across the United States. It is not to condemn, ostracize or judge, yet every hour that I spent behind that barrier, I received more judgment than I have ever dealt with in my entire life. And those who stood back and said nothing, those who walked away without a word, those were the people who did not understand and did not care to ask, but rather preferred to make an immediate judgment.

I spoke to many women in those two days, women who were sorry for having abortions, women who had never seen pictures and didn’t know the development of a child in the womb, those who hated and judged me, those who said I wasn’t a real woman and those who just didn’t care. But each of these women I still view as human beings who have inalienable rights and dignity, and I will continue to look on them in love. This view is the view that all of us had, prominent by the signs displaying post-abortion and pregnancy help lines surrounding the presentation.

I heard no shouting from those within the barrier, but only from those shouting at them. I saw no violence within the barrier, but only from someone who chose to destroy their property. I saw no judgment behind the barrier, but only from those who decided they knew who we were enough to judge.

Change starts with radicalism and individuality. The civil rights movement caught on fire because of the images of lynchings that were publicized. When Rosa Parks was asked why she did not give up her seat on the bus, she claimed it was because she thought of Emmitt Till and the images she saw of his torture.  

The intent is to inform the public. If rage was a part of that then it may be unavoidable. I too taped my armor back together and left, but I left after a day of speaking up rather than a day of silence. I left with knowledge, understanding and hope for change. I was informed, while others did not even take the time to try. And that’s how changes happen in this world: Not with ignorant stabs in the back, but with knowledge and someone who is willing to stand up, even when everyone else is spitting in their face.

I will continue to fight this fight, not only for the unborn, but also for their mothers, because there is nothing more tragic for either of them. I stand up for these, even if no one else will, with knowledge and most of all love and acceptance.

Felicity Landa is a representative for the Center for Bioethical Reform and guest columnist for the Daily 49er.

[Editor’s note: This op-ed is in response to Haley Pearson’s April 18 article ‘Anti-abortionists are more abusive than effective.’]

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