I met a woman who is pro-life and doesn’t realise it.
She’s one of those people with grit and strength learnt through hardship yet without the hard shell of bitterness that many battlers wear.
Let’s call her Rachel.
Before the law called her an adult, she had done many adult things. Drugs. Alcohol. Sleeping rough. Sex in exchange for a place to lay her head.
And at sweet 16 she was pregnant, a child about to bear her own child.
Rachel smiles and laughs through the telling of her story, slowing to emphasise the gut-wrenching bits, but not lingering there long. It’s in the past now. The present is her focus – how could it not be when it involves a happy toddler and the rollercoaster of motherhood!
Why did you keep your baby? I ask.
She was the typical candidate: young, emotionally unstable, no money and in the vice of substance abuse.
“It never crossed my mind to abort my baby,” she says.
“I couldn’t tell you why.”
She pauses, eyes travelling to an invisible mark high up the wall opposite.
“I guess I just always valued life – all life. I was one of those kids who couldn’t tread on an ant and I’ve always hated animal cruelty. I’ve just always known that life was something to be treasured.”
Her voice is soft.
“The position I was in, I knew I couldn’t live with the trauma of that decision. It would have killed me.”
I nod silently. She nods too, and continues.
“But I’m not judging those who do. I’m pro-choice. I’m not religious.”
I nod again and the conversation travels elsewhere.
As I thought on it later I recognised the popular postmodern thought process at play, which asserts that moral ‘right’ for one is not moral ‘right’ for another. There is no objective moral right, no absolute truth.
I don’t pretend to understand the intricacies of postmodernist philosophy, but I see its fingerprints on society in the emphatic assertion that reality, knowledge and value are relative to the discourse of the moment.
Just as time changes, so does truth.
So it follows that it seems right and loving to release fellow humans to choose their own truth.
Rachel’s truth was that abortion takes life but she released others to accept a different truth.
I’m not criticising Rachel, or any Rachel-like people for that matter – she was being gracious in the only way she had been taught (read her full story here).
But what if the loving and right thing was also the hard and confronting thing? Love with muscle, not a fluid, flaccid love that “bends with the remover to remove” – to quote the bard.
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,
nor bends with the remover to remove.
Oh no, it is an ever fixed mark
that looks on tempests and be not shaken…”
Truth and love are interchangeable in this, Shakespeare’s famous sonnet.
Because truth serves love; it is loving to be truthful.
And Rachel’s story, shared so nakedly, illuminates a truth that many are avoiding.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday November 11, 2015.