Last week I was at the county fair, where Planned Parenthood had a booth the next aisle over from Right to Life (Right to Life, coincidentally or not, was right next to the Republican Party booth). I stopped by Planned Parenthood first, to express my support and sign up to be a volunteer. We chatted a little bit about the current legal battle going on (a federal judge issued an injunction against Indiana trying to defund PP), I told them to keep up the good work, then I walked around to Right to Life. I had picked up a handout earlier in the week that listed alternatives to the local Planned Parenthood. However, none of the three listed “birth control” or “sexually transmitted infection testing” under “services provided.” I was 90% sure that was because none of the clinics offered birth control, but I wanted to double-check, so I asked the women staffing the booth.
First, the women didn’t recognize the handout as theirs, which should have tipped me off that the following discussion wouldn’t be very productive. My question tipped off a 10-minute conversation, which I knew wasn’t going to change any minds, but, as I’ve mentioned before about writing my representatives, sometimes I just have to go on record to let people know I disagree with them. Not only didn’t the women know they offered that handout, they had never heard of the Hyde amendment, believed Right to Life’s statistics over Planned Parenthood’s, said unmarried women shouldn’t be having sex and no women should use birth control (if you’re married and don’t want kids you have to either abstain or use natural family planning). They said abortion is murder and it doesn’t matter that the law says abortion isn’t murder. They said the fact my mother’s and father’s DNA created me wasn’t biology but “a miracle” from God. They didn’t believe a woman who faces the awful choice of having to abort a fetus to survive should ever choose to survive but should let God decide what happens because it’s all his plan. They couldn’t believe I was an informed citizen and not a Planned Parenthood spy. I said I’d stopped by the PP booth but wasn’t affiliated with them. A couple of times the older woman said I should go back to the PP booth, although she seemed to think they had brainwashed me, so I’m not sure why she wanted me to go back. To get more facts to confuse her with?
They asked if I believed in abortion across the board, and I said yes. (That was the first time the older woman said she’d pray for me. To her credit, the younger woman never said that.) They kind of reeled back like I had slapped them. That made the conversation worth it, just so they would know there are people in their community who believe the complete opposite of what they believe. The woman also said she’d pray for me as I walked away.
The conversation was both frustrating and reassuring. Frustrating, because these are the types of people making laws regulating what women can do with their bodies. Reassuring, because they have absolutely no facts or logic on their side. Everything they said was from a faith-based perspective, when we should be using science-based perspectives to craft our laws.
This was the first time I talked with anti-choice people about abortion in-depth in real life. I’ve had “debates” with people on Twitter, and certainly some of my friends and family are anti-choice, but we never discuss abortion. I know the two women from Right to Life don’t represent the entire anti-choice movement, but all the same our talk was educational.