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The actual facts

James Petrocelli | Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The statement “You cannot be pro-life and pro-choice at the same time” (“The facts,” Anne Barbera, Nov. 17) is not a fact. There is no well-constructed fence that divides the abortion debate.

The term “choice” has more complexities than the traditional abortion debate acknowledges. A pregnant woman who opposes abortion chooses to carry her child to term; thus, she is making a choice. In a world where the existence of available options (one being abortion) generates the necessity of choice, she made a conscious decision to give birth. Traditionally, this woman is “pro-life.” Other “pro-life” advocates would support her decision. However, the “pro-life” side of the “fence” normally fails to recognize that they are supporting the woman’s decision to choose life. The fact that choosing life is excluded from the pro-choice spectrum shows that the fence analogy is flawed.

Maintaining a moral stance on an issue does not mean that you cannot respect other opinions. One can genuinely believe in the Catholic faith while respecting another’s right to choose a different religion. A woman can maintain the position that she would never choose to abort a child, yet respect another woman’s belief that abortion should be permissible in certain circumstances. Wouldn’t that traditionally make her both pro-life and pro-choice? No one knows the truth. It is not our place to judge and label one another.

The real fact is that we will never live in a world where there is complete consensus on complex moral debates. The best that individuals with differing views on abortion can do is to work together to find common ground in the matter, such as focusing on efforts to reduce unwanted pregnancies that create the need for abortion in the first place. Furthermore, we should stop seeking to divide the issue into such black and white labels; the search for truth in morality should not be treated as a civil war within humanity. It is not that simple.


James Petrocelli


off campus

Nov. 17