There also seems to be an intimate connection between understanding the pro-life position and conversion to Christianity for many. The most famous may be Norma McCorvey (AKA "Jane Roe" of Roe v Wade). She wrote in her book, Won by Love,
I was sitting in O.R.'s offices when I noticed a fetal development poster. The progression was so obvious, the eyes were so sweet. It hurt my heart, just looking at them. I ran outside and finally, it dawned on me. "Norma," I said to myself, "They're right." I had worked with pregnant women for years. I had been through three pregnancies and deliveries myself. I should have known. Yet something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, 10-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, Abortion - it brings out the kid in you! It's as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth--that's a baby!Another atheism to Christianity blog is by Jennifer F. who tells how she became pro-life after her conversion. Like all these stories from our brothers and sisters in Christ, there is much to learn. I found most compelling the connection she makes between her view of sex growing up and how it distorted her view of life, choice and abortion.
I felt crushed under the truth of this realization. I had to face up to the awful reality. Abortion wasn't about "products of conception." It wasn't about "missed periods." It was about children being killed in their mother's wombs. All those years I was wrong. Signing that affidavit, I was wrong. Working in an abortion clinic, I was wrong. No more of this first trimester, second trimester, third trimester stuff. Abortion–at any point–was wrong. It was so clear. Painfully clear.
Sex could not have been more disconnected from the concept of creating life.At the time, I thought my dad gave a somewhat clumsy "birds and the bees" talk, but looking back, I think that he did a great job in connecting life and sex. I worry about my own children growing up in a culture that will say the opposite of what I will teach them about these same issues.
The message I'd heard loud and clear was that the purpose of sex was for pleasure and bonding, that its potential for creating life was purely tangential, almost to the point of being forgotten about altogether. This mindset laid the foundation of my views on abortion. Because I saw sex as being closed to the possibility to life by default, I thought of pregnancies that weren't planned as akin to being struck by lightning while walking down the street -- something totally unpredictable, undeserved, that happened to people living normal lives.
Being pro-choice for me (and I'd imagine with many others) was actually motivated out of love and caring: I just didn't want women to have to suffer, to have to devalue themselves by dealing with unwanted pregnancies. Because it was an inherent part of my worldview that everyone except people with "hang-ups" eventually has sex and sex is, under normal circumstances, only about the relationship between the two people involved, I got lured into one of the oldest, biggest, most tempting lies in human history: to dehumanize the enemy. Babies had become the enemy because of their tendencies to pop up and ruin everything; and just as societies are tempted to dehumanize the fellow human beings who are on the other side of the lines in wartime, so had I, and we as a society, dehumanized the enemy of sex.
It was when I was reading up on the Catholic Church's view of sex, marriage and contraception that everything changed.
I'd always thought that those archaic teachings about not using contraception were because the Church wanted to oppress people by telling them to have as many kids as possible, or something like that. What I found, however, was that their views expressed a fundamentally different understanding of what sex is, and once I heard it I never saw the world the same way again. The way I'd always seen it, the standard position was that babies were a horrible burden, except for a couple times in life when everything is perfect enough that a couple might temporarily see new life as a good thing; the Catholic view is that the standard position is that babies are a blessing and a good thing, and while it's fine to attempt to avoid pregnancy for serious reasons, if we go so far as to adopt a "contraceptive mentality," feeling entitled to the pleasure of sex while loathing (and perhaps trying to forget all about) its life-giving properties, we not only disrespect this most sacred of acts, but we begin to see new life as the enemy.
To use a rough analogy, the Catholic Church was saying that loaded guns are not toys, that while they can perhaps be used for certain recreational activities, they are always to be handled with grave respect; my viewpoint, coming from contraceptive culture, was that it's fine to use loaded guns as toys as long as you put blanks in the chamber. Thinking of that analogy, expecting to be able to use something with incredible power nonchalantly, as a toy, I could see how that worldview had set us up for disaster.
I came to see that our culture's widespread use and acceptance of contraception had led to the "contraceptive mentality" toward sex being the default position. As a society, we'd come to take it for granted that we're entitled to the pleasurable and bonding aspects of sex even when we're in a state of being vehemently opposed to the new life it might produce. The option of abstaining from the act that creates babies if we're in a state of seeing babies as a huge burden had been removed from our cultural lexicon: even if it would be a huge crisis to get pregnant, we have a right to go ahead and have sex anyway. If this were true, if it was indeed a fact that it was morally OK for people to have sex even when they believed that a new baby could ruin their lives, in my mind, then, abortion had to be OK.
I realize that ideally I would have taken an objective look at when human life begins and based my views on that alone...but the lie was just too tempting. I didn't want to hear too much about heartbeats or souls or brain activity...terminating pregnancies just had to be OK, because carrying a baby to term and becoming a parent is a huge deal...and society had made it very clear that sex is not a huge deal. As long as I accepted that for people to engage in sex in a contraceptive mentality was morally OK, I could not bring myself to even consider that abortion might not be OK. It just seemed too inhumane to make women deal with life-altering consequences for an act that was not supposed to have life-altering consequences.
So this idea that we are always to treat the sexual act with awe and respect, so much so that we should simply abstain if we're vehemently opposed to its life-giving potential, was a totally new and different message. For me, being able to honestly consider when life begins, opening my heart and my mind to the wonder and dignity of even the tiniest of my fellow human beings, was not fully possible until I understood the nature of the act that creates these little lives in the first place.
While my pro-life position coincides with the idea that we are all created in the image of God, I would not say that it is a religious position for me. I know that there is a biblical case to be made, but have never looked into it. I have never needed to. My position is that the murder of innocent human beings is wrong. I don't know anyone who would disagree with that statement. I had to at one time argue that embryos were human beings, but advances in science have made that reality abundantly clear. There was a time when I would have argued that although I thought that abortion was wrong, "who was I to impose that view on others?" Reason has since taken over. If abortion is the murder of an innocent human being, then why would I think that it was all right for others to murder an innocent human being?