Let me tell you a story about a normal, American girl. She was born and bred in central New Jersey, not an hour outside of Manhattan. Her family consisted of pro-choice Catholics — or rather, people who thought it was possible to be pro-choice Catholics. (Yes, this story involves religion. But religion is not the main point, so please keep reading, even if — especially if — you’re not in the mood for proselytizing.)

In tenth grade, this girl realized what she had been looking for was legit Catholicism. She graduated high school a year early and participated in an exchange program in Belgium — a very socially liberal, Catholic country. There, via research and deep conversations, she discovered a different way of thinking about abortion. She reexamined her liberal predispositions and her unwillingness to submit to moral authorities greater than herself.

Back at home, she realized that she was meant to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She did not realize that it too was liberal, like everything else around her, but she did what she felt God wanted and enrolled and loved it. She loved it despite the fact that every day was a conflict with the majority, and despite the fact that she was a Biblical Studies major, which came with problems of its own. Somehow, her pro-life stance stood up well under the constant pressure. She became a card-carrying member of Students for Life and loved to go back home to New Jersey for the summer, where she wore her “iChoose Life” shirt proudly around town and began to write a column for The Michigan Daily.

And, speaking of that, while I welcome feedback, I am very, very sensitive. So, please be gentle in your commentary, or I might cry.

So, back to my point: After much soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that abortion is murder. And this shouldn’t mean that I have to be okay with other people doing it or agree that it should be legally allowed. A “live and let live” philosophy is nice, especially when it comes to this debate: you may be, as so many people have told me, “personally pro-life but politically pro-choice.” You wouldn’t get an abortion, but you might discuss the possibility with a pregnant friend, and you certainly wouldn’t fight for such a procedure to be illegal. Thus, you stay out of the lives of others (which is, for the most part, a courteous thing to do) and don’t pretend that you’re a moral authority.

I’m not trying to be condescending. I think you have the right idea. But ask yourself why you might be “personally pro-life.” Now, ask yourself why there is moral truth in your belief. Either a fetus is a life, or it’s not. It is not going to become a human — it already is. Yes, it’s so incredibly tiny at conception, but it’s still alive. It’ll just receive nutrition and then, over time, it will grow.

If we can understand that unborn babies have life inside of them, it becomes clear that a life is a life. It begins at fertilization, and if you’re the sort of person who thinks everyone deserves life, then you should defend it. You have a moral obligation to your unborn brothers and sisters.

I don’t have nearly enough space to tell you everything I want to about the pro-life movement or address all the implications of the abortion debate. But do the research — ask critical questions, as any good Michigan student should. Ask yourself why a modern young woman would defend the pro-life stance to the tune of great ridicule. (It’s not just because of the Catholic thing. I could have done what so many others do and ignored Catholic social teaching.) No matter where you stand on the issue, get the facts behind when life begins and how abortion works. And remember that somehow, in this enlightened age, a lot of intelligent people persist in being pro-life. Ask them, and yourself, why.

Anna Paone can be reached at apaone@umich.edu.

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