Like most high school students, I’m utterly convinced that research assignments are destined to be the bane of my existence, just as I’m resigned to the fact that the SAT will kill me come testing day.
However, after receiving a ninth grade assignment prompt that completely changed my outlook and opinions, I’m unable to deny that somewhat onerous essays and research projects serve an important purpose. This particular prompt did, and changed my personal philosophy for the better.
When I first read the directions, I wanted to crawl back into bed and hide: “Research a political and/or cultural issue that you believe deserves more recognition, state your position, and support the issue’s significance with research and examples”. I stared at the prompt for at least five minutes, struggling to sift through the surplus of random information swirling around my brain, straining to call to mind an issue that was important to me. I couldn’t. So naturally, I turned to Google for help. I entered a general search for a list of political and cultural issues; clicked a link…and abortion was right at the top of the list. I figured I would be able to find a good bit of information on the topic, so I chose it, having no idea that that choice would change me forever.
Now, I come from a Catholic background, so I’d received general information about abortion. I knew that it’s divided into two sides, pro-life and pro-choice, but I had no personal opinion on the issue. Abortion was just another aspect of society and politics that didn’t directly affect me, so I didn’t care. But now it was time to figure out where I stood, so I started searching for pro-choice and pro-life information.
The first site I visited was Planned Parenthood. If you go to any search engine and type in “abortion”, Planned Parenthood is the first link that pops up. My search took me to their page on abortion, and I was immediately drawn to a tab on the right-hand side labelled “Info for Teens”. Well, I was a teen. This was teen stuff. Maybe I could use this.
I clicked the link. And I was disgusted.
I saw a bunch of articles encouraging teens to have sex, which shocked and confused me. I kept scrolling and saw more articles about teen pregnancy that praised abortion as a brilliant solution for family planning. I read article after article reassuring teens that the abortion procedure did not cause long term mental health problems or depression, and that teens didn’t have to worry—they could get an abortion without parental consent, or petition for a judicial bypass. Wait a minute. I can’t even vote or buy alcohol, but I can have sex and get an abortion, all without parental consent? This struck me as fundamentally wrong. Like a lot of teenage girls, I can’t even leave the house without my outfit being approved by my parents. I definitely shouldn’t be allowed to get an abortion without telling them.
That was only the tip of the iceberg. Planned Parenthood had a whole section cautioning against teen parenting, listing a bunch of reasons why it’s a bad route to take. It interferes with personal lives, education, and social freedom, etc. This struck me as inherently, irresponsibly selfish, and I got angry. This list wasn’t comprised of reasons, it was made up of excuses, mere justifications to assuage consciences and give teens an easy way to escape the “burden” of parenthood. The problem with Planned Parenthood’s whole philosophy lies right there, in their inaccurate characterization of parenthood as an unwanted burden.
I thought of my own mother, who’d instilled in me the belief that motherhood is a gift, and who, even after I climbed in an oven, locked her in the basement, and tried to walk home from preschool, had never called me a burden. As I stared at the Planned Parenthood webpage, I noticed that they referred to a baby as a fetus or an embryo in the womb, but called her a child when discussing post-birth options, almost as if existing in the womb made her less than human.
That’s when it struck me: any human is human from the very beginning, and that beginning is not birth. Human development starts in the womb, and anyone that is human was human from the very start. Abortion doesn’t kill something almost human or something less; abortion kills a child, deprives her of her right to experience life. And this terrible murder is legal, socially acceptable, and even encouraged. I was beyond horrified—I was furious and appalled, not only that abortion is legal and acceptable, but because I’d known it existed, but I’d been too blind and indifferent to how terrible it really is.
So, with a newfound determination and a staunch pro-life attitude, I began researching pro-life information to use for my assignment, along with ways to get involved in the fight for life. I soon stumbled upon Live Action. Five seconds later, I was a Facebook follower and had added Live Action News to my Favorites. I used Live Action’s amazing articles and resources to write my essay and posted the finished product and citations to the discussion board. I go to an online school, and once a discussion essay is posted, students are encouraged to reply back and discuss the issue.
I received a reply within ten minutes of posting, from a pro-choice advocate who informed me that my views deprived women of their rightful right to choose to terminate their pregnancy. Outraged, I replied back, this time including even more statistics and ethical arguments. Soon another classmate replied back, this time someone who, like me, agreed that the unborn should be protected and that abortion is an important issue that needs to be recognized.
I am proud to say that since my realization in ninth grade, I have been passionately pro-life, and will continue to be so even after penguins fly…or at least until the SAT finally kills me.