Honestly, it was a struggle to admit to myself that I had been wrong. And I had to tell my parents, who are my best friends. My dad is in the state senate in Hawaii and is on the pro-life side of the abortion debate. It was a huge deal to have that conversation with him and my mother. I put it off for a really long time. But I respect them, and they respect me. My parents are proud they raised my siblings and me to be independent thinkers. They know I am doing what I believe is right.
Pro-Choice to Pro-Life
"College opened my eyes," Angel Armstead, 32, writer; Chaptico, Maryland
I’m from a predominantly liberal, Democratic area. Being pro-choice was the accepted belief in my household. I figured that since women are the ones who are stuck with the baby, we should be the ones to choose. I probably would have considered abortion if I had gotten pregnant as a teenager. I had my own dreams and goals that I didn’t want thwarted.
In college, people challenged my beliefs, especially during my second year—2008—when there was a presidential election. A lot of my friends were Catholic. Most were pro-life. I thought, I should be more open-minded and at least read up on the issue. In my biological-anthropology class, I held the skull of a fetus I’m guessing was three to five months old. I was shocked by how developed it was. It made me wonder what a fetus goes through when aborted. It made me sick to think of inflicting that on anyone.
I went through a hard, slow transition. I don’t like the idea of telling other people what to do. I’m black and Muslim. As a child, I thought the pro-life movement was mostly white and Christian. But on the Internet, I saw that all kinds of people were pro-life. If being pro-life were only about religion, I wouldn’t be so outspoken about it.
In some ways, my decision has made things harder. I know that some pro-life people are judgmental, but I’m annoyed if others see me that way. To me, a true pro-lifer is someone who cares not only about unborn babies
but also about pregnant women who need better resources to choose life.
Pro-Life to Pro-Choice
"I met unwed mothers," Samantha Griffin, 25, program assistant for a nonprofit organization; Hyattsville, Maryland
I received my first sex education in church, from my mom, who was an African Methodist Episcopal youth minister. We were taught that sex is beautiful, sacred and good, but only within the context of marriage. Abortion wasn’t discussed much, but it just wasn’t something we would ever have.
In 2009, I did youth policy work for a nonprofit in the Washington, D.C., child welfare system. Lots of the kids I met had spent their lives in foster care. Often there was a cycle of poverty, abuse or substance abuse—and early parenthood. According to one study, nearly half of all girls in foster care in the U.S. have been pregnant by the age of 19. I saw that when a young woman becomes a parent unintentionally, she often doesn’t have the resources to care for her family in the way we’d all say is ideal. Watching this made me think. What if ending the pregnancy would be a way to make a girl’s life better?
I don’t want to give the impression that I think these young women shouldn’t have had their babies, but seeing them made me really believe in options. I think that we as a society should support the choice to become a mother. But if the woman wants to make the other choice, then she has that right, too, I believe.
By my early twenties, I could no longer agree that a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy she does not want. In my faith, God values women and their power to make decisions for their own bodies, lives and families.
Pro-Choice to Pro-Life
"During perimenopause I re-examined my past choices," Magnolia Miller, 55, health writer and blogger; Bellbrook, Ohio