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Confessions of a Pro-Life Convert by Alex Ruiz

At the age of one, I was baptized Catholic. At eight, I did confession, took communion, and (by cheating the system—thanks, Mom!) was confirmed Catholic. And nine years later, I privately gave up my faith for a lot of reasons that I won’t delve into here. Intriguingly, though, a few Catholic sensibilities still lingered in my personal morality, the weirdest among these to my non-religious and fellow-liberal compatriots was being Pro-Life.

Look at him…God, he’s so punchable

It was always easy to explain: my cursory knowledge of biology (influenced by a Florida public school education, I now realize, and not my former religion) told me life began at conception, and therefore killing in-utero babies was murder. I didn’t think of exceptions for rape and incest, though could be persuaded when the life of the mother was at stake—after all, logic dictates ensuring one life, rather than risking both. These were the lines within which I smugly watched the world. For the sake of a well-rounded picture, I should mention that at this point, I also insisted on only wearing synthetic leather shoes and belts because murdering cows for anything but food was inhumane and unnatural, that total pacifism in both the international and personal altercations was always and eternally not just the best but onlymorally-sound response, and that Van Halen didn’t suck. You can see what kind of insufferable creature eighteen-year-old me could be.

Then the even-more-unthinkable-than-unthinkable happened: I had a pregnancy faked on me. The faking I didn’t actually figure out until some time later upon a closer inspection of details—we had always used protection, she danced around symptom descriptions, and relayed the details of her “miscarriage” in a way that I later learned would make even an introductory med-school student scream with laughter. What was really important was the moment in which she said to me that she believed herself to be pregnant: faced with the (false) reality of what she was saying, all of the moral and logistical reasoning that I had used to formulate my every view on abortion shattered like so many dreams.

All I wanted was for her to get it taken care of, a truth which I actually kept to myself for the most part—I think there was the sly inclusion of the question to see how she’d react, and (of course) she wouldn’t hear of it. I kept pestering her to take a pregnancy test so that we could know conclusively and start reacting—after a few days, she claimed she had taken one with questionable results and then threw away because she didn’t think I’d care to see it—and a week or two later professed that she’d “lost the baby” (which she was absolutely sure had been the girl I’d always wanted).

Her name is Adelina: Here she is
with her first rattle.

While the entire situation was doubly much ado about nothing, in the aftermath I faced my own hypocrisy towards the abortion option. It’s indelibly easy to posture and stake out a moral claim, especially when it hasn’t applied to one personally. And I won’t insult Pro-Life readers here by stating they only believe as they do because they have yet to encounter these situations, though I know this is a distinct possibility, especially for men. I did it, in my youth and my arrogance, and I was humbled. I sought a new perspective on the issue and eventually arrived at a funny mix: I don’t really think about whether or not life begins at conception—I subscribe to the medical community standard regarding first breath and add the George Carlin addendum of if a fetus is really aperson, we would mourn miscarriages with funerals and couples would say “wehave two children” instead of “two and one on the way” (skip to for the particular citation, but this entire bit actually did a lot to inform my new logic).

Some years later, my best friend and his girlfriend accidentally got pregnant with my goddaughter. At the time, they were under twenty, under-educated, and under-employed. I told them they had my support whatever they decided to do. Despite what I privately believed was their best course of action, she was born in October of 2009.

Alex and Adelina
A couple months ago

Since she was born and I’ve related the story of her circumstances, I’ve been asked why I’m still Pro-Choice, why I didn’t switch back after beholding this beautiful little creature for whom I would give pretty much anything in the world. In truth, I treat it as I do religion: reveling in the discussion and debate, but not pushing anything on anyone unless they ask for my opinion. With Adelina and her parents, I was honest when they asked, and was there for them all the way, even being present in the delivery room. I’m very glad that they made the decision that they did, but having been in that same situation (or thinking that I had been), I know that I could never make that decision for anyone.

So I stand Pro-Choice, a supporter of rights to a safe medical procedure that should be openly available to all women and couples. And it isn’t logic or a traumatic experience that drives me there, at least not alone. It’s plain empathy. I’ve felt the claustrophobia of an unwanted pregnancy and I’ve witnessed the splendor that can come out of it as well. What I take away from both is simply a respect for the situation and an understanding of the difficulty of the decision: either way, all that is needed is some simple support, education, and maybe a little humility.

Alex Ruiz is a freelancer, poet, and fiction writer. He is a graduate of the English and Theater programs at Rollins College, and currently teaches in Orlando, FL. He is at work on his grad school applications, his first novel, and his first half-marathon.

Apart from these exploits, Alex enjoys Irish whiskeys, lifting heavy metal objects, and yelling at 24-hour news channels like they’re sporting events. Please follow him on Twitter @A_X_Ruiz where he’ll be happy to argue with you about way more than just abortion.

12 Thoughts on “Confessions of a Pro-Life Convert by Alex Ruiz

  1. Thank you, Alex for your post. My favorite line from this was, “Despite what I privately believed was their best course of action, she was born in October of 2009.” I’ve felt that way when guiding other people, but in the end, it really is their choice, isn’t it? :)

  2. If he was raised Catholic did he really change his mind or was he not allowed to have his own opinion? I was raised Catholic and for the longest time it seemed like I was not allowed to have my own opinions. Maybe allowed to have them but the religion said it was wrong. I am still religious, but I do not consider myself Catholic

    • Earnestly, I never thought about whether or not I was allowed to have that opinion. The indoctrination (which I then considered “lessons”) of the religion just made me feel that Pro Life was the correct and proper route.

  3. First, I’m not Catholic. I am a Christian, though most often not a very good one. So let me get this straight. Alex was pro-life until his gf told him she was pregnant. Then using the logic of George Carlin, he’s now pro-choice?

    Here’s the deal. A new human beings life begins at conception. Is that life only worth something if it doesn’t affect yours?

    • I think he became pro-choice after feeling suffocated in the faked pregnancy. From what it sounds like, he felt trapped; he wasn’t ready to be a parent. It made him realize (and thankful) that he and his girlfriend COULD make a choice.

      I don’t think he stumbled upon George Carlin until later (but I could be wrong).

    • It’s sad, but lots of guys do get trapped. Thats why it’s important to build the relationship before you have sex. I know, I know, I’m just an anti who doesn’t realize kids are going to have sex anyway! Don’t forget, I was young once too. :-)

    • Ignoring the fact that a strong relationship does not preclude horrible and unprepared parenting; what makes the life of that fetus worth more than that of the two parents, not to mention that of the child?

    • Pat – parenting isn’t something you learn from a book, it comes natural, or it’s supposed to anyway. And by nature (or God if you’re a believer), you have 9 months to prepare. Who said the fetus’ life is worth more than both parents?

    • Nature does not make you a good parent. My parents should not have had children. And it is important to build the relationship before having sex, but were you present for last night’s chat? Alex said there were a lot of unhealthy factors he didn’t recognize until later, as many relationships have.

    • Finally got the chance to jump in on this one. Sorry for the delay. In response, I was pro-life partially due to my religion (never realizing that the other side had a legitimate argument), and remained so even after leaving it (which, as I stated, was due to a lack of education and an ignorance of the situation). The point with my ex-girlfriend was that it gave me a point of context for understanding people who are put in the situation of an unplanned pregnancy: It caused me to empathize where I once only intellectualized and face my own hypocrisy on the subject.

      George Carlin just gave me a Pro-choice perspective that I could find reason and logic in. In my opinion (which I fully and respectfully acknowledge is contrary to yours), life does not begin at conception, and part of my reasoning is the stuff stated in that Carlin clip. His logic makes sense to me is what I was getting at.

      Thanks for the comment, by the way. I’m loving this discussion.

  4. Hey Lynne. I stopped in for a minute when the chat began, but I was just too tired to hang, sorry. I did read the chat later though. I do think good parenting along with common sense, comes from nature. The thing is, nature is also responsible for bad parenting. As for Alex, I hope he finds someone special to share his life with.

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