We were both kids, with radically different viewpoints. And, I have to admit, radically different perspectives which may have arisen not just from our upbringing, but from our social status.
She was a popular girl from a well-to-do family. I was an unpopular girl who had grown up on welfare, and as it was a small high school, EVERYONE knew our social status.
But I prepared, just the same, hoping that facts and morality would win over social popularity. I did my research, I spoke with local women involved with MCCL, they gave me resources, they gave me opposing arguments, and using all of these things, I prepared my end of the debate.
It was structured so that we'd each have an opportunity to speak. No rebuttal. Not every student in class was doing a debate, just a few of us on particular topics, and the teacher had taken volunteers. I was the ONLY student willing to speak for the pro-life side. That's not to say that other students disagreed...it only says they were more terrified than I was to stand up in front of the class and speak. Not that I wasn't terrified myself. Let's be clear about that.
When the day came, I was, in fact, so nervous I couldn't eat. But I had my notes, I knew what I was going to address, and I expected the popular propaganda to be put out there. My opponent did not disappoint. She trotted out the same ignorant statements that has continued to this day to be used by the left: that children resulting naturally from sex are "punishment", that it's unreasonable to expect a teenager to take on the responsiblity of a child, that it's better to kill a child than allow that child to come into a world as messed up as ours, that population control "demands" abortion, that pregnancy wrecks lives, that women should have a right to decide what to do with their bodies, etc.
I responded to all of these things, BEGGING my audience to understand the very definition of life, reminding them even of what we'd learned in Biology, only a week prior where a video we'd watched stated very clearly, "Life begins at conception."
In the end, the class IMMEDIATELY decided that my opponent won the debate. Why? Because they agreed with her because they liked what she said. What she had told them made them feel comfortable.
I had pulled in facts, figures, biology, and....logic. Sure, I made a certain emotional appeal, but given that it was a debate, passion gave me courage to stand up there dissenting against the class. But it was facts that made me believe and should have made others believe.
I learned a hard lesson that day; that just because you're right and you have the truth on your side doesn't mean anyone is going to care.
I went through my own period of being "pro-choice", but when I emerged from that fog of idiocy, I realized how wrong I'd been, and found myself entering another debate. This one was more informal, but much more true to life. It took place at a website I frequented, in the form of a "Survivor" competetion, where we'd all choose our sides, enter the debate, and at the end of a set time, we'd vote people out of the debate who hadn't contributed much, etc. It was a good idea, and was largely well done as it was a wonderful forum for lots of ideas to come together in a very safe way. The participants "knew" each other, so friends often disagreed with friends. These "relationships" actually helped to keep the debate very civil. Usually.
The first debate in the series was...you guessed it....abortion.
I was making my own slow re-entry into the Church at the time, and found the need to look to the Catechism (CCC) to aid me in my argument. In this debate, I kept it handy, made some notes, and wandered into the fray. While I was not making my argument specifically from a Catholic perspective (since I didn't actually know what it was), I did recognize that I could use the words of people wiser than I to make my point. Other people were using their own resources and quotes with proper references, so I set out to do the same.
I quoted the CCC, then, with regard to when life begins, and a few other sources, and gave the references so that they could be read by others.
To my utter shock, one particular debator on the opposing side suddenly began berating me in the most bizarre way. She started out by "screaming" at me (all caps): "STOP SHOVING YOUR CATHOLIC DOCTRINE DOWN MY THROAT!" and wanted to be clear that she "HAD THE ARMOR OF GOD ON, SO BRING IT ON!" Through that rant and unsubstianted claim, she would in some way, apparently deflect anything I said. It was a diatribe dripping with pure, irrational, absolutely demonic hatred.
I was completely taken aback, and responded that I wasn't shoving anything down anyone's throat, but apparently she was shoving her hatred down mine.
To my amazement, people on BOTH sides of the abortion debate came to my defense. The opposing debators said they disagreed with what I'd posted, but understood my position better because of it, and emphasized that I had a right to use the resources that had formed my values, etc, because that's what everyone else does, too.
But the damage was done. I was terrified after that to use Catholic sources, no matter what wisdom was contained. If using that affected my position...then what? So I did my best to make coherent arguments, using the sources to inform me, but not using the exact wording so as to avoid citations that would cause another such reaction.
The scary thing is...
...that the vitriol these days is pretty much unchecked. If that same debate took place on that same site today, I'm convinced that there would be no defense, but rather, it would turn into a slaughter. The anger and hostility of the liberal anti-religious left has gone unchallenged for so long that they have become conceited in their "enlightenment" and even as they preach "peace" where there is no peace, they make war upon those who simply seek to live Truth.
I know that I'll go on debating abortion and speaking out against it, and that people will continue to not listen. Babies will continue to be slaughtered in the name of Moloch...uh... "Convenience" (as his current incarnation happens to be.) But I'm grateful for my early high-school lesson, and that of the web site from several years ago. The reality is that until abortion comes to an end, there will continue to be a debate, and there will continue to be nearly-violent backlash against anyone who dares to speak out against the unmitigated slaughter of children in the womb.
Truth is on only ONE side, and that is the side that honors Life. We are going to continue to be beat up by people who disagree, but their vile tactics only serves to discredit them and reveal their lack of foundation. Let them flounder. Let them spew their bloody agenda until they choke on it and drown...maybe then, they'll look through blood-encrusted eyes and see things as they really are.
Until then, keep fighting the good fight, keep praying, keep loving, and keep debating to the best of your ability. We know how this story ends.
Our Lord said clearly, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me. " (Mt 25.40)
Those are the words that reveal Truth...and the words that condemn those who choose death for the unborn, the "least of His people."