Event Preview: Greg Jackson on the Ethics of Abortion
by Oxford Students for Life
Flash back to the Sixth Form common room: I, an enthusiastic pro-lifer, was willing to get stick for my beliefs, but really had very little idea how to communicate them. I remember one of my male friends making an off-hand comment that if he ever ‘got a girl pregnant’, of course he would tell her to have an abortion. Cue my outburst. I shouted. I told him how awful he was to think that: to talk about choice one moment and then to offer this hypothetical woman none. I was angry, and I was rash. The rest of our friends in the common room looked on as I got more and more exasperated and he just shrugged off what I had to say. The bell rang. We went to class. He probably forgot the conversation fairly quickly.
This was not an entirely fruitless conversation. I had a message a few months later from a friend who had witnessed this argument saying that he had changed his mind about abortion because of it. But really, I’m surprised that I got that note – I didn’t think I deserved it. I still worry that someone in the room who heard me decided, then and there, that they could never speak to me about abortion because of my reaction, or that one of my friends who might have been affected by abortion felt they could not tell me about it. Instead of showing the reasoning and the compassion that support my view, I might have made a lasting impression of anger. Part of me thinks that, carried away by emotion, I did not remember what it really was that we were arguing about.
This is not the kind of conversation that you want to have about abortion. When a friend makes a passing comment, you certainly need to talk to them about it, but hopefully with much more wisdom than I demonstrated that day. You need to be able to explain calmly why you are pro-life: why you know life begins at conception, why this matters, and why we have to provide real care for mothers and their children before and after birth. These are hard conversations to have, but they are some of the most worthwhile ones. I have learnt a lot since that argument, and am still learning with each person that I talk to about such a personal and important subject.
On Monday, Greg Jackson, former OSFL member and former Student Support Officer for the Alliance of Pro-life Students, will be talking to us about the ethics of abortion. It’s the kind of talk that would have helped me a lot in my Sixth Form days. He’s going to get us thinking about the questions at the heart of the abortion debate that each person must consider, and help us to understand the arguments behind the slogans we so often hear. If you’re pro-life but struggle to articulate why, if you think you’re pro-life but don’t really know why, or if you’re pro-life but struggle to keep calm and find yourself saying the wrong thing when talking to friends, then this is the event for you. Looking forward to seeing you on Monday!
Jo Jackson is co-president of Oxford Students for Life