It was quite common that I would be asked questions about my beliefs or politics, but being pro-life was a hot topic of conversation.
"What about the death penalty?"
Yep. I'm against that.
"What about working with women that have had abortions?"
My job is to advocate and provide information for women and their children as they build a life after violence. All women.
"What about partnering with the shelter that serves the LGBTQ community?"
No one deserves to be abused or assaulted.
With every answered question, I'd get a "Wow." and a shake of the head. "So you're, like, really actually pro-life for everyone, huh?"
I think I always assumed that my coworkers just hadn't ever encountered someone that was actually pro-life, because all pro-life people believed that all people were created with inherent human dignity, right? From conception to a natural death, right?
I get it now. I understand the looks. I understand the impromptu meet and greets: "Hey come meet my friend, she is pro-life but not like *that* so you'll love her!" I understand the warnings from my coworkers and supervisors about conferences and get togethers with other agencies. "Maybe don't mention the pro-life thing, especially if you're looking to stay in this field and maybe work on the state level someday."
The last three years in particular, we have all watched as the pro-life movement interpreted their cause narrower and narrower. There are very real reasons pro-life folks are not trusted.
"We can't fix everything."
I actually saw someone call us Catholics to a consistent pro-life ethic and be met by another supposed pro-life Catholic with "oh that consistent pro-life pitfall" as though there is another path Christ has asked us to follow Him down.
My work as an advocate left me with stories I can never forget. It did not change my belief that all people are created in the image of God and that all are worthy of dignity. I can believe that and let my actions and words reflect that while still being against abortion. It is not mutually exclusive work, friends.
Stop sacrificing the dignity of others because unborn babies are easier to champion than other groups of people that need Christ's example. People are messy. They don't always look like you or make it easy to love them. Do it anyway.