By Mary Grace Donohoe – Interim Administrator
We were recently offered the opportunity to run a workshop at the Students for Life Northeast Regional Leadership Conference. This was a fabulous opportunity to allow local, college-aged folks to learn more about the services we provide and how we utilize our network of support and resources to give women the choice of life when they are faced with unplanned pregnancies and other forms of crises.
We had a very interesting conversation about the nuances of the pro-life and pro-choice movements and the politicization of the female body and how this does a disservice to all women in challenging situations.
After a brief presentation on our services and network, we jumped right into an activity called “Step Into the Circle,” where a list of identities is read. If the phrase applies to you, you step into the circle, revealing that, sometimes personal, identity. This activity often bonds a group very quickly as it reveals our various life circumstances, privileges, and disadvantages. This led to an incredibly nuanced and necessary discussion on how to engage other young women and men in fruitful dialogue concerning this issue in an exceptionally politicized climate. This specific activity was used because, when approaching women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, or people who do not share our views, it is essential to understand our personal viewpoints and how others may have life experiences that cause them to think and act differently. It is only after reflecting on this nuance that we are able to move past our differences and build relationships with the women we want to serve.
I come from a peacebuilding background, where facilitators always encourage participants to “seek what unites, not what divides.”
We brainstormed events and issues we could discuss with college peers that would spark conversations and build relationships between opposing groups such as attending “Take Back the Night,” a campaign that speaks out against sexual violence against women.
We also introduced our newly designed stickers, which put a modern and unique twist on our messaging at Bridge, by stating “Pro-Choice: means there is more than one choice.”
We also discussed in depth how characterizing all “pro-choicers” as one block of people without diversity and nuance is allowing our mission and message to fall short among young people—who are the future of this movement. It is essential that we approach those with differing opinions with compassion, patience, and understanding if we are truly going to support women through perhaps the most unpredictable time of her life.
Our message is not that parenthood is the easy option, but rather that women are strong, capable and powerful! It is our responsibility at Bridge to spread this message, grapple with the nuance of our cause, and support all the women that walk through our doors.