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Dear Fifi: How do I come out to my friends as pro-life?

Somehow, it’s bloody Tuesday again.

dearfifiheader

Pain is a great teacher, but it’s important not to dwell too much in it. At times of sadness and upset, there is nothing at all in the world like the support of others.

It can be tempting to see ourselves as living only within our own “skull-sized kingdoms” but there is consistent comfort to be found in sharing with other people. Sharing joy is wonderful, but it can be equally important to share life’s pain.

You know the deal by now.

dearfifibar

Hi Fifi,

I’m a 23 year old female student and I find it very difficult, even around my closest friends, to admit that I’m pro-life. They’re all staunchly pro-choice and hate the pro-life movement with a passion. I’m not religious in the slightest, it all stems from an entirely moral standpoint as I can’t see beyond abortion being murder. I hate lying to them but I feel that if I ever opened up about my true views they’d start treating me differently or stop wanting to be my friend.

I never go to any or marches or talk about it openly so they’d never have to find out, but do you have any advice on how I can feel less bad about constantly lying about the topic? I have a feeling that other people feel the same as me so it’d be nice to know if that’s the case.

Look, before I kick this off, I want to be up front with you: I am pro-choice. Even aside from the current 8th Amendment conversation, which is about more than abortion provision, I believe in a woman’s right to choose. This is something I care deeply about.

Because I do care so much about it, I personally would need someone very close to me in my life to share this as a core value. There are some things I would find challenging to disagree about with my partner or very close friend, and reproductive rights is one. However, outside of that, I don’t necessarily need all of my extended friends or family to share my core values, as I respect the diversity of experience and opinion that’s out there.

That’s key. Respect. As long as you respect my views and I respect yours, there should be no problem – even in a long, involved, potentially frustrating discussion about where we’re both coming from.

At the moment, you feel as though you’re boxed into staying silent, that you can’t express yourself – or that your friends would lose respect for you if they knew your true feelings. That’s a challenging place to be, regardless of the subject.

The issue is that what you’re saying is not respectful at the moment. Even by staunch anti-choice campaigners, abortion is not referred to as “murder”. For example, here is hard-line pro-lifer Cora Sherlock repeatedly reaffirming her stance that abortion is not murder. At the moment, you’re actually a fair bit further right than a woman who has dedicated her life to anti-choice causes.

What you’ve got here is a misguided take, or at least potentially upsetting terminology, which has the potential to offend women and couples who have decided on abortion. I suspect that down the rabbit hole, you may have more misguided opinions on this too.

It sounds like you’re carrying around misinformation and your acute fear of being judged by others for your opinions has actually stopped you from truly examining them.

If you try to speak to your friends right now, without doing any more thinking about the words you use or position you hold, realistically it probably wouldn’t go that well. So how can you address that?

I’d advise starting off by interrogating these opinions you have. I mean, really interrogate them. Read as much as you can about the various ways in which abortion is medically required and how it is handled in other countries across the world, both systemically anti-choice and pro-choice, and what the various outcomes of those systems are. Form an opinion based in fact. Read lots. Make sure you’re reading from quality sources. If you see something like “abortion is murder”, turn back and question it.

Inform yourself about as many angles of this issue as possible before broaching it with friends. These friends – it’s very likely they have experienced abortion either directly or indirectly. I think the words you’re currently using are highly likely to trigger an emotional response, which is not going to benefit anyone.

Consider why you’re worried about their reactions. Consider why your close friends might find your beliefs troubling. Really, do. On a certain level, are you concerned you can’t defend your stance? What is it exactly you are afraid of in their reaction?

This is not only a sensitive time but also a fraught subject. After you have educated yourself as much as you can, from impartial sources and with impartiality yourself, can you confide in someone who will talk to you without judgement? You may need clarity on some aspects of what it all means, or someone to bounce some of the more challenging aspects of it all with.

Start talking – once you’re confident in where your opinions have come from and know the appropriate language to use. Abortion is a broad spectrum, and no one should judge you for wanting to understand it better, as long as you’re coming at the conversation respectfully and in good faith.

Look. Abortion might be something you are personally uncomfortable with. That’s okay. No one is ever going to judge you for that. However, you can simultaneously understand that it is required in a diverse range of circumstances for other people, while knowing you yourself would never decide on it.

It is entirely possible to be pro-life personally, but pro-choice in a wider sense socially. After all, as you say, this is simply your own opinion and you’re not involved with any anti-choice groups.

I told you that for me, in certain situations a difference in opinion on this topic might be a deal-breaker – but in others, it might not. Everyone has a different level here. I can’t say how it will be for your friends, but for your own peace of mind, try being honest with them.

Meet them halfway by reading a lot first. Strive to respect them always. The resulting conversations might change you and your friendships, but not in the way you think.

dearfifibar

Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

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