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The Problem of the “Other Side”

May 7, 2019  |  Viable Options

A Cultural ‘Back and Forth’

When talking about unintended pregnancy and the cultural response to it, all too often the focus of the conversation is on the “other side”. Our energy, emotion, and time are frequently spent attacking those of the opposing view and attempting to dismantle their position – trying to prove why such a stance is so “wrong”, “backwards”, or whatever pejorative you prefer.

Often the sentiment is that the “other side” is what’s wrong with America. It’s the “other side” that is hurting _________. It’s the “other side” that is causing _________.

The very fact of there being an “other side” demonstrates the often binary nature of our public discourse. Our political system naturally lends itself to a binary back and forth – an exchange of opposing views where each side endeavors to keep the other from gaining too much power, opportunity, or influence. This is why so much of the political discourse is centered on attacking the “other side”.

And we clearly see this played out in the conversation of unintended pregnancy – the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life movements being the two opposing titans of dominant strength and influence.

As we discussed in a previous post, these two camps do not exist independently from the realm of partisan politics. Today, “Pro-Choice” is nearly synonymous with “Democrat” and “Pro-Life” with “Republican”. Of course there are outliers, but for the vast majority of Americans, there is very little delineation between the respective movements and their accompanying political parties.

“Pro-Choice” v. “Pro-life”: A Binary Conversation

Because the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life movements are nearly tantamount to the Democrat and Republican parties respectively, the movements have embodied the binary back and forth of the political arena.

With the ever growing polarization of our politics and the increasing extremes of each side’s ideologies, reactions, and rhetoric, it has become more and more difficult to engage in public discourse in a way that is objective and relational – without merely reverting to an entrenched position.

In other words, this discourse is rarely productive because this political dynamic often replaces relational support and holistic care with legislative solutions, political rhetoric, and ideological talking points that offer little hope to the woman faced with a pregnancy decision in her moment of need.

This leaves the conversation of unintended pregnancy embedded in a decades’ old stalemate that has seen little progress towards holistic solutions as many on both sides tend to be unwilling to allow their own perspectives and approaches to be challenged.

Many feel justified in contributing to the binary political conversation that has left thousands of women abandoned in their moment of need, because after all, it’s the “other side” that’s the problem. But this only serves to perpetuate a cycle of neglect in which we repeatedly overlook those who most need our support.

Relationship: Inconvenience Worth Fighting For

The Third Choice exists to go beyond this binary conversation in order to reach the woman facing an unintended pregnancy – recognizing that the solution for her unique needs cannot be realized in a political back and forth. The Third Choice looks to restore the value and dignity of the individual woman walking through the decision process, to let her know that she is not alone, and to develop holistic solutions for her that are based in relationship.

At the end of the day, the problem is not merely the “other side”. The problem is also you and me. Many times, we’d rather vote our conscience, give money to the nonprofit of our choice, or attend a rally/march/demonstration than get involved in the messiness of relationally supporting those around us who are facing an unintended pregnancy and allow them to disrupt our lives. I know it’s hard. It’s frustrating at times. It’s messy. It’s difficult. It’s tiring. But that’s what relationship ultimately is – inconvenience that is worth fighting for.

We can no longer look to politics as the ultimate solution for those facing a pregnancy decision. Rather, we must seek to place a demand upon ourselves to restore the value of relationship to the conversation of unintended pregnancy and to advocate for the needs of those walking through the decision process – not just for a political outcome.