May 2020

by Laura Lewis MD, CCFP

How do we approach and discuss abortion, a topic so heated and polarizing?

Before jumping into a discussion about abortion, it’s best to first pause and consider a few questions. These questions can bring awareness and help us to approach the conversation with greater understanding.

  1. Do you have your own experience with abortion?

Whether it is a friend, mother, sister, wife, or yourself, every year in Canada, approximately 100,000 abortions occur, and studies report that one in four women will have had an abortion by the age of 45. These statistics show that abortion has impacted many of us.

In some way, we each have our own experience with abortion. But what that experience looks like varies greatly – from relief to indifference to incredible devastation. We must be careful not to assume we know the impact abortion may have had on someone else – instead, we can be aware and understand that each experience is different.

  1. What are your views regarding the legal protection of the unborn?

We have differing opinions on rights. Whether it is the right to access abortion or the need to protect the life of a developing baby, the views regarding the balance of these rights vary from person to person. At this time in Canada, there is no legal protection for a baby in the womb, and such protection only begins once the baby is born. For many, this imbalance in legal protection is a serious concern. For others, the mere mention of a legal discussion provokes anger.

What does it look like to make room for a respectful conversation regarding this? To begin with, are we willing to consider that those with opposing views believe they are doing the right thing by taking the stance they do?

  1. What is your ideological worldview?

We all have one; it’s how we view and interpret the world, what we believe to be right. Whether under a banner of faith or not, our worldview affects our big picture assumptions, motivations, and beliefs. Many believe life begins at conception, a view I share. Some believe life begins when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall. And others don’t believe these timelines are relevant at all; their focus is on the mother’s desire to carry a pregnancy to term.

Living in a world with diverse beliefs requires a willingness to listen to others and respect that their journey may look different than our own. Are we able to welcome others even if we do not agree?

These questions are essential to consider. If we are unable to acknowledge and articulate that each of us enters this challenging space with our own experiences and biases, we will have great difficulty opening a respectful dialogue. Without this awareness, we are more likely to lock horns and posture ourselves to defend our position – reacting and protecting – a common default position of human behaviour.

Is our intent to “win” the conversation, or to build a bridge to fill the gap between us?

Rather than locking horns, how much better to create space for respectful dialogue.

Building bridges is not about compromising values. It’s about showing respect and love and finding ways to make room for others who may not share our views. In doing so, we are reflecting the heart of the gospel.

Love doesn’t lock horns. Love opens doors, makes room, builds bridges, and invites.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:3

Originally published on the Pregnancy Care Canada blog