Written by Jalaya Taylor, ORTLEF community outreach specialist
I went into the busyness of the Oregon State Fair with my heart full, ready to pour into the thousands of people I was going to meet. I didn’t know all I would encounter, but I was willing to go into it with an open mind, knowing that I would grow alongside the people I conversed with.
As I reflect post-fair, my heart remains full, yet also now grieves. My eyes have been opened to the reality of where the people in Oregon are on the issue of abortion.
Many fairgoers didn’t realize that abortion is legal for all nine months in our state. Yes, Roe v. Wade has been overturned, but Oregon abortion laws have not changed at all, and that new life deserves to be protected.
With this knowledge, it is vital that truth-bearers continue to take a stand and educate the people who desperately need to have their eyes opened to the downfall that our society is creating.
One particular conversation with a young teenage couple stands out to me. They stood in front of our booth’s poll question, “Should abortion remain legal for all nine months in the state of Oregon?” Being around the age of 15 or 16, they each put a voting chip in the “Yes” box after contemplating the question for a couple of minutes.
I walked over and politely asked why they voted yes. After bouncing between arguments like women’s choice and the case of rape/incest, I led them to our “Touch of Life” fetal models. The demonstration of human development from as early as seven weeks opened their eyes.
I asked again, “Do you think terminating this fetus is okay?” When they still answered ”yes,” I realized there was a deeper issue at hand.
From there, they spoke about the circumstances of their lives, including the presence of poverty and trauma. “Why,” they asked, “would we ever want to bring a life into this world after what we have been through?”
My heart immediately broke. While their position was wrong, it contained a deep, personal reality for them. I encouraged them that bringing a life into the world, while scary, can also be a very exciting experience. They could make choices to overcome all the trauma they have gone through so that this new life can experience something different. Healing becomes a possibility because they would be able to see the world through fresh eyes – the eyes of a new child.
Before leaving, they agreed that abortion is traumatic and should not be the solution. This young couple was able to receive the knowledge that our society so desperately needs.
While not every conversation ends with changed hearts and minds, it strengthens my hope that our work is truly making a difference, one step at a time.