By Ettore (aged 16)
It was year 10 (I was 14) and with the start of my RE GCSE course, debate consequently followed. Complex issues like abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty were brought forward with arguments for and against and our opinion was sought. Even in a Catholic school I often found myself in a minority, defending not only Catholic teaching but the right side of the argument. What I failed to take into account was that I was not in a room full of rookie debate partners with vague ideas of their opinion, I was in a room full of pro-choicers using classic pro-choice talking points like: 'what about the woman's choice?' 'what if a twelve year old was raped and became pregnant?' and 'what if the mother's life was in danger?' All simple questions to respond to; if you are well informed, but at the time, I wasn't... I was stopped dead in my tracks and destroyed in debate, and made to look and sound like the crazy person in the room. What I did not realise was that education and the media was a highly effective pro-choice brainwashing centre, which luckily had not affected me as my family and belief in God had created strong defences. Sad about my defeat I left questioning my opinions, and once I came to the conclusion that I was on the right side I decided to do something about it.
I knew abortion was wrong but I could not express it in a way that was scientific and well thought out and backed up by solid arguments. So I hit the books, the only way to get well informed was to find a book that taught me how to debate, and I was fortunate enough to be listening to Catholic Answers when the book 'Persuasive pro life' was advertised, a book which I will also advertise for any people aspiring to defend life. It was the answer to my prayers. I sat down to read and learn from the book, and can safely say I spent more time studying that book than for my RE GCSE! The book was truly a blessing as it went clearly through the arguments, talking points and examples of what a debate could and should look like from an experienced pro lifer, Trent Horn. I learnt it cover to cover and came back to the school debates as a force to be reckoned with.
However I only realised later that debates which contain such emotion should not be approached in the same way as other debates where you make a fool out of your opponent by hitting them with great points and facts (not to say you don't use facts and talking points) but these debates are not won by a single argument in which you intellectually outdo your opponent, but the aim is to plant seeds. Usually just the fact that someone dares to question the Status Quo is a start, and then when you show them you are not just a religious nut with even nuttier opinions, but that you use science and facts then you really have something going. You won't change views over night, or you might never, but you must not feel like you've ever won an argument, because that is not what these debates are about. You must slowly show someone your view, gently and calmly as your opponent will almost never be, wiping the floor with a pro-choicer who had previously had an abortion is not the best tactic or the most loving Christian thing to do.
This was hard for a head strong (or arrogant as I have been called by a great many people!) person like myself to just go easy on someone who was making excuses for murder, but the book taught me to practise what I preach, and be compassionate to the pro-choicer and let your loving view be expressed also in how you treat the pro-choicer. But this was just the beginning...
I decided to start a pro-life group in my parish, which was advertised in the church's newsletter as a Profile group (AUTO CORRECT IS SO ANNOYING!) And I was given a helping hand by SPUC's own Rhoslyn Thomas, she started off the group with a brilliant presentation on the gravity of the situation and the necessity of us as citizens to get involved and fight the greatest evil of the 20th and 21th century. The presentation was followed by questions and then food as things usually do when hosted in an italian-Catholic household. We continued to meet for debate practice using the Persuasive Pro life book to structure these and fought the assisted suicide bill in the UK by leafleting around my area and speaking to neighbours to write to our MP.
This first contact with SPUC led to me doing work experience with them for two weeks in June 2015. There I saw truly good people who gave up careers that would offer wealth on earth and followed one that offered immense wealth in heaven. I wrote blog posts for them did some side walk counseling training to prepare me for going outside of a Marie Stopes abortion clinic in central London, by far one of the most depressing things I've ever done. Im not going to sugar coat it. This is the perfect place for the devil to get at you and convince you it's hopeless and that you're fighting a losing battle, as you see woman after woman walk into the clinic and ignore the aid of the sidewalk counsellor. You must be strong. Now I don't want to dissuade you from doing it as we need all the help we can get, but don't go there unprepared. Pray the rosary, don't let the devil get to you.
After my experience at SPUC my desire to defend life was greatly increased. Now my views have only grown stronger and although due to school work I cannot currently participate in pro-life work as much as I would like to, I do what I can, and if it involves challenging the teacher, student or friends who make outrageous anti-life statements I dont let them get away with it and think that their opinion is the accepted truth. My government and politics class will be very interesting when it comes to the debate stages as students have already affirmed their pro-choice views with no contestation and said how being pro-life is, in the words of one of my peers 'like so old fashioned.' (I didn't know scientific fact went out of fashion, but what would I know about science, i'm just a bigoted catholic!) So I would like to end by saying this: even if you don't have a lot of time to commit to the pro-life cause, buy Persuasive Pro Life, learn the arguments and challenge people, the best thing you can do is to be informed. And in the words of Trent Horn... plant seeds.