Trigger warning: Discussion of abortion

Dear person who thinks abortion is murder,

When we first met, there was no talk about when life begins.  You didn’t ask me if I believed in God nor commented on pre-marital sex. You spoke about the importance of sexual restraint in heterosexual marriages. Thank Goddess you didn’t ask me about my sexual habits as you may have of gotten more information than you bargained for. We had just met, after all.

During our first conversation, which lasted an hour, we were able to acknowledge the need to prevent abortions, focusing on issues such as poverty and domestic violence.
A world where every pregnancy is wanted by the person who would carry, birth, and be connected to another human being for the rest of their life. Not just by the community or the other potential parent.

We struggled around language, as not all women can get pregnant and not all people who give birth identify as women. We both ended up switching between the word ‘woman’ and ‘pregnant person.’ You asked me if I was a woman. I said yes. You didn’t ask if I could bare children.

You acknowledged that there were thousands of children in foster care and that you had never considered adopting. We both expressed concern for children who felt unwanted.
I admit that we didn’t get off to a great start.

When I first saw you, wearing a sign that read ‘Abortion Kills Children,’ I wanted to mock you, scream obscenities, and educate you about the harm of criminalizing this incredibly important health right. That criminalization did not prevent abortions but did increase the death toll on women.

Who was your intended audience? Were you primarily speaking about the doctors who perform abortions? Your sign didn’t explain who was killing children. I wanted to scold you for telling children that there was a dark, mysterious force wanting to harm them.
During another conversation with an anti-abortion folk in Welland, I was reminded of the importance of language. He said said that the actual translation of the 10 commandments is ‘Thou Shall Not Murder,’ and that ‘killing’ implies self-defense. Murder, he said, indicates premeditation and malice. Did your sign acknowledge that abortion is a type of self-defense?

I’ll do some more research on the wording of different protest signs as how we say things matters.

Your sign reminded me of a Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical reform bus ad that showed the fetus as separate from the woman, erasing her presence, and acted as if a fetus was in some sort of balloon. An ad that might come to Peterborough.

Well, explaining how a fetus ended up in a balloon will make sexual education just that much harder for the rest of us, thank you very much.

We talked about masturbation and the challenges of sexual restraint. I brought up the importance of teaching children about consent, the ability to say, with words and/or body language, at any time in an interaction that  they do not want something.  You expressed feeling sickened at the idea of sexual assault.

You acknowledged that your sign didn’t prevent abortions. I thought, ‘WTF, why are you out here every Saturday morning? On this -20 below one? Why didn’t you just sleep in?’ I was a bit resentful, thinking I could of just stayed in my warm bed.

Once our first conversation was done I hurried home and sought out statistics comparing the impact of these anti-abortion signs relative to ones that offer adoption, birth, and abortion as equally respected options. I looked at the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s website and hoped you would too.

I will need to always admit what I don’t know and perform ongoing research on abortion rates based on the social determinants of health.

During our next conversation I bet you’ll ask me if I’ve had an abortion.  I wonder what I’ll tell you.  There will be rage that comes up. I wonder when you’ll get exasperated and want to cut off ties. I will go home exhausted and likely scream into a pillow, and/or throw some plates at rocks in the backyard.

I think we have years of talks ahead of us and, hopefully, not just at these rainy or freezing Saturday morning protests.

Conversations without begging or pleading for permission on how to live. Let’s leave shaming and educating in the hopes of agreement at the door.

This ain’t going to be easy. You believe that I support killing, and/or is it murdering, babies.  I believe your protest sign actually increases the rates of abortion and deaths of pregnant people.

I don’t even know your name. We were so caught up in our discussion that we forgot common practices of civility.  Next time, I’ll make sure to ask.