Unpopular Opinion: “I’m Catholic & I’m Pro-Choice”

In Refinery29’s Unpopular Opinion, we go outside the Twitter bubble to hear from our readers what they really think about the 2020 election, what issues they care about, and more. Share your own unpopular opinion here.

Age: 34

Lives in: L.A.

Job: Associate director of development for a foundation

Party affiliation: Democrat

On which “hot-button” issues would you like to see more compromise in our current political discourse?

“Both sides have taken the extreme position on reproductive health, and it’s frightening. I am a pro-choice Democrat who also identifies as Catholic. I’m actually trying to hide in a conference room while I say that, because I work in the Catholic Church. But I find myself to be more moderate than a lot of my contemporaries in that I wish that when we talked about women’s healthcare and abortion and birth control, we would come at it from a place of compassion for the people who are affected by it, instead of from a place of judgment. 

“I believe that we should have common-sense laws for family planning that really define when ending a pregnancy is appropriate and healthy. We need to debunk a lot of those myths about abortion causing breast cancer and other health problems, or psychological issues. And instead of continuously protesting against it, trying to pass things like ‘heartbeat laws,’ that we start looking at it from a place of compassion to understand what we can do for young people and women and children as they’re growing up, to see how we can heal society so that this isn’t as common. But this would also involve the Catholic Church condoning birth control, so I’m not holding my breath.”

You said you believe that both sides have taken extreme positions on reproductive health. Can you please elaborate on this? What do you think it would take to come together?

“Obviously the right has taken an extreme position in the laws that they’ve passed under the guise of supporting women’s health, to make access to abortion illegal in most, if not all, circumstances in certain states. And that is scary, because when I hear that this is happening, the first thing I think is, When is it going to make the news that people are dying from self-inflicted abortions? But I’m in the camp of Bill Clinton’s ‘safe, legal, and rare’ abortions. I think Planned Parenthood does a really good job in their communications. But the sound bites we get from some spokespeople on the left, saying, ‘Abortion should be available always to everybody no matter what,’ that’s not my stance. 

“Instead, we really need to be combining reproductive rights advocacy with education and initiatives to teach children and young people how to take care of themselves and their bodies, and to understand human biology and reproduction. I think that abortion ought to be available as a medical procedure when it’s necessitated and when it’s safe, and that it not be compared to some macabre practice from a haunted house. But I think there needs to be a level of compassion for the other side, too. Because obviously there are people who really, truly believe that it’s genocide. And trying to understand that is the only way that there can be any headway, or else you’ll just have a country divided wherein in half the states you can do it and in half the states you can’t.”

What is your take on third-trimester abortions? Advocates fear that restricting them would make it even harder for people who have to make this rare, difficult decision. But some on the right are distorting what the procedure is.

“It is an enormous surgical procedure that is absolutely necessitated often because somebody’s life is in danger. But when this is communicated, the conversation seems to turn to Democrats wanting to ‘murder babies.’ I don’t know what kind of PR campaign needs to happen, but I know that nobody wants to murder babies, and you know nobody wants to murder babies. There needs to be a way to communicate that to those people who are so passionate. Personally, the biggest problem I find in the ‘pro-life’ movement is that it’s only focused on one thing about life. If the same people had the same passion, charisma, and energy around ending gun violence or ending the death penalty, there could absolutely be headway made and lives saved. Turning it into one issue, I think, is an absolute hypocrisy that I have a lot of trouble with.”

How has your life changed since Trump was elected?

“One thing that happened really stands out to me. I worked as an administrator in a pre-K-through-8 school in a community of immigrants, many of whom were undocumented, and all of whom were very poor. The fear was palpable. Children were constantly worried that their parents, grandparents, and siblings would be taken by ICE; we had to hire more counselors to come in and teachers went to workshops to learn how to better support their students. And then, two young students’ mother was taken during school one day. It was terrifying. She was actually released, which was a huge blessing, but all of a sudden it became very, very real that the people we knew could start disappearing and ending up at detention facilities. 

“We realized that as administrators, we needed to have plans in place that we never thought we would need to. We had to start a first-response support team with a phone tree, and we partnered with a law clinic that helped a lot of our families. We had to learn how to deal with the Los Angeles Police Department, which would sometimes come pick up a child if their parent was detained. All of a sudden, this was a world that we never thought we would be living in.”

What are your thoughts on how the Democratic presidential primary race is going, including the debates?

“Well, I loved Andrew Yang in the debates, and I think he’s been dismissed by a lot of political commentators because his freedom dividend [giving every citizen $1,000 a month] is seen as gimmicky. I think that’s pretty disappointing, because to me it seems like a really interesting idea. I think he would be a great politician even at a state level, too. So I’m hoping that’s not the last we’ve seen of him. I am also a big fan of Bernie Sanders. He is absolutely incorruptible, and that is refreshing. I’m trying to be optimistic that the Democrats will choose a candidate that people will want to rally behind on the same level as they did behind Obama in 2008. We need somebody who is going to make us feel hopeful again.”

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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