I recently wrote an article about Robin Marty, a pro-choice journalist who attended the East Coast Walk for Life and then wrote about her experience. You can read part one here.
My reason for writing these articles is not just to give my thoughts on her experience, but also to emphasize the fact that I think it takes a lot of courage to attend an organization with people who disagree with you on a controversial topic in an attempt to get to know the people on the other side better. If more of us took the time to do that, we'd probably be able to have better conversations more often.
She began by attending a conference of speakers. I'm not really familiar with the Duggars, myself, not being a fan of reality television. I have heard about Shane's Bucket List from the couple with a child with anencephaly, and I'm very glad they had Rick Santorum speak. Santorum is one of the best politicians knowledgeable on the abortion issue. You can see a YouTube video of Santorum debating Barbara Boxer on partial-birth abortion that is very much worth watching.
Next Marty attended a conference of "non-traditional" pro-lifers, a conference where speakers talked about having a place in the pro-life movement for people who don't fit the "white, male, Catholic" stereotype (as for me, a Protestant, I guess two out of three isn't bad). I'm all for this idea. I believe that a house divided amongst itself will not stand. While there are pro-life people I disagree with on other issues, if we want to really see abortion come to an end we need to be united in our cause to end abortion.
That being said, we do need to make sure it goes both ways. I've clashed with pro-life anti-theists on Facebook who were offended by some of my opinions. I wholeheartedly agree with being inclusive, but all of us need to be inclusive. Religious pro-life people shouldn't have to act like atheists to be included by the non-religious.
After that, the march itself began. It's refreshing to see a pro-choice person talk about the actual numbers who participated, instead of the low estimates usually espoused by pro-choice media outlets (there's an inside joke about hundreds of thousands of pro-life ninjas who appear and disappear without being noticed). Marty was able to see first-hand that there really are a huge number of pro-life people who attend these marches, and most of them young people.
Marty did mention passing huge posters of graphic images of abortion, so I'll take a moment to talk about them. I'm not opposed to using graphic images of abortion. I think they can be very helpful to turn an abortion conversation about an esoteric opinion into cold hard reality. It's much more difficult to justify abortion when you have to look at it. I've personally witnessed pro-choice people become pro-life when I showed them the images. But I think abortion images should be used respectfully. I'm not convinced a pro-life march is the best place for it, especially since there are young children who usually attend. I think college campuses are a better place for them, where a free exchange of ideas is reasonably expected.
After passing the abortion photos, the crowd were stopped by a radical, fringe left-wing group called Stop Patriarchy (who are apparently seriously Communistic). The crowd was halted for a while as the police led them away. I guess they succeeded in throwing a small monkey wrench into the march, but I can't see that they really accomplished anything besides being a small nuisance for a little while.
Marty's final event was to attend a sit-in by several pro-life advocates at Representative Renee Ellmers' office over pulling the 20-week abortion ban. However, Ellmers had skipped town, having gotten wind of this protest.
Well, Marty didn't convert at the end, and she doesn't appear open-minded enough to consider that the pro-life position may, in fact, be true. However, it was beneficial to her because it at least showed that behind all the caricatures of pro-life people, there are real people there with real stories. At the very least, the experience may make one pro-choice person more sympathetic to those she opposes.