Wednesday, September 29, 2010

just an afternoon chat

This afternoon I had a great conversation with Jody*, an employee from Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia, and with Brittany* and Amber*, some girls from the William and Mary chapter of VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood). They were all three sitting in our Student Center offering the morning-after pill at a reduced price as part of their EC (emergency contraception) Day on campus. So when I walked by their table on my way to get a Quiznos sub for lunch, I stopped, said hello, and started talking.

Although I made it known from the start that I disagreed with their organization and their EC sale (Brittany asked me later whether I was a member of Students for Life, to which I replied yes and invited her to drop in on a meeting sometime-- I'll be visiting VOX's meeting next week), my goal in approaching them was not to argue. I wanted to talk. I hoped they would get to know me as an approachable face from the "other side" here on campus. I asked a lot of questions. I listened for a long time.

I did ask Jody when she thought life began. She said viability. I asked her what the fetus was prior to viability. She paused and stammered and finally laughed, saying, "It's hard to explain." As she was struggling for an answer, I felt a sense of sympathy for her. It was clear she had been lied to about the entire issue-- to the point where she, a woman who deals with pregnancy for a living, couldn't even explain what a fetus was.

I decided to change the course of the conversation a bit, and asked Jody what it was like to work for Planned Parenthood. I asked her about the kinds of conversations they have with girls who come in with unplanned pregnancies. I asked her if it ever made any of the nurses sad or uncomfortable to see fetal remains after an abortion. She hesitated. Finally, she looked up and said, "It's hard, you know... well, I shouldn't use the word hard... I don't know. It's just, I have kids of my own and..." (she glanced down at her 6-month-pregnant belly) " affects some nurses more than others."

Though only about 45 minutes long, my conversation with Jody, Brittany, and Amber reminded me that we are all more similar than we often think. We all understand the intrinsic value of human life and feel a sense of sadness in destroying it. It may be possible to numb ourselves from that sadness for awhile, but no one can stay detached forever. If we engage these conversations, I think people will awaken to their natural senses-- and choose life over death.

Be loving. Be brave.

Life will win.

Vita Pro Omni!

*Names have been changed


  1. "It was clear she had been lied to about the entire issue-- to the point where she, a woman who deals with pregnancy for a living, couldn't even explain what a fetus was."

    Scathingly good, definitely got a kick out of this. After our discussion it's easy to see why you see VOX as the "other side".

    Yet, I completely subscribe to your stress on human empathy. In the end it is our commonalities, our shared pain and our collective joy which hold value. If there's one thing the pursuit of Philosophy has taught me (whether I'm a brain in a vat or not) it is that people are fundamental. And only the shared celebration of human life can possibly succeed on the issue of abortion.

  2. Good for you, Catherine. I don't have the self-control to hold a discussion with VOX on EC day. Other days of the year, I can do it, but that one is a struggle for me.

  3. Wow. Okay, Catherine, you are so awesome. Man... It's so incredible to see - read about - all that you're doing on the front lines for human life. Reading this story is extremely inspiring to me and reminds me of the small ways in which I can stand up for those little ones who have no way of defending themselves.

    Way to go, Catherine. I'm 100% positive that those three women went away that day, after having talked with you, with a new outlook. I bet that they will have to re-evaluate their stance on the life issue and the work that they're doing for Planned Parenthood.

    Know that I'm praying for you! And I hope to be able to talk to you soon!!

    In Him,

  4. Beautiful. And ditto to Beth - I'm not quite strong enough for that.

  5. Good for you! I got this link through Beth, I'm a friend of hers from Catholics on Call. As a future midwife I think I would have a REALLY hard time when my patients choose abortion, which will inevitably happen at some point. I also had a hard time with VOX on campus, even though I was president of Womyn's Action Coalition which was supposedly an ally. I just didn't like the in-your-face approach to contraception that many VOX members took - e.g. dressing up as a condom fairy and deliberately making people uncomfortable..but that's an issue for another day. Just wanted to say I appreciate your blog and I've enjoyed reading it so far!
    -Katherine M, Rochester NY