Telling Stories, Changing Minds (?)

Michelle Kinsey Bruns used to be a Catholic schoolgirl, and when she encountered a train car full of them coming home from a pro-life march in Washington, D.C., and she decided to tell them about her own abortion, how it saved her from poverty—and why she’s never regretted it. (““I want you to think as you grow up and into adulthood about putting this passion that you have for this cause into making healthcare available for everybody; into making, for example, executions illegal if you are pro-life. Think about the inequities that force women to say say, ‘I want this pregnancy but I cannot raise a child.’”)

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20 Comments / Post A Comment

Blondsak (#2,299)

Wow, what a brave woman. Her story had me tearing up here in DC, but for far better reasons than when I started tearing up in the metro upon seeing so many brainwashed teenagers being paraded around like zoo animals for a cause I know few of them have any true knowledge of or wisdom about (though some of them will certainly come to, some day).

Morbo (#1,236)

For the record, the Catholic Church IS a strident opponent of the death penalty.

olivia (#1,618)

@Morbo That’s true in theory, but in reality the vast majority of public protesting by Catholics is against abortion, not the death penalty. I was raised Catholic and was one of the kids shuttled to the March for Life. There was never an organized march or protest against the death penalty even mentioned in my parish.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@olivia Do you think that’s because the death penalty is determined by the state and these pro-life marches are about Roe v Wade, which is a federal law? I have seen Catholics protest in state capitals over the death penalty but only states that have the death penalty.

lizard (#2,615)

@josefinastrummer also way easier to garner sympathy from teens for unborn babies ( fetuses) than criminals

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@lizard So true. Everyone loves babies and everyone in prison is bad.

Morbo (#1,236)

@olivia The Catholic Church in my state as one of the big forces that organized the campaign to get the death penalty overturned. Unfortunately, parishes and even dioceses are at the whim of their pastors and bishops.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

Hmmm and what if it were reverse and a pro-lifer did this? I’m pro-choice but this just doesn’t seem like the right time or place to me. If anything, those brainwashed kids are going to remember the crazy lady from the train promoting killing babies.

@josefinastrummer True but how many times do you hear brainwashed pro-choicer?

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@forget it i quit not very often, but if I were a 15 year old brainwashed Catholic schoolgirl pumped up on the excitement of just having MARCHED FOR LIFE, I would have thought this woman was a monster. Hopefully in a few years, some of these girls will grow up and think more about what happened, but lately I have decided that trying to tell teenagers anything is a waste of time. And that most people have to learn things for themselves.

cryptolect (#1,135)

@josefinastrummer Reverse, like, what if pro-lifers gathered outside places where women who wanted abortions were likely to go and tried to talk them out of getting abortions?

Blondsak (#2,299)

@josefinastrummer I think cryptolect’s got you there.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@cryptolect And what do we think of those people? They suck. Do they actually ever change anyone’s mind? Except for the movie, Juno, I doubt it. I think it’s wrong for people to tell others how to live their lives. It goes both ways.

And now I am thinking that those poor teenagers had to spend the rest of the trip back home listening to their chaperons go on and on about how awful this random woman was and they probably had to pray for her soul for hours.

lizard (#2,615)

@josefinastrummer i am pro choice but i have to agree. its way awkward to try and convince a group of teens on train. i mean if she did it one on one it would probably get through but im not so sure it would work even though i wish it would

cryptolect (#1,135)

@josefinastrummer I also think they suck, but because that is their MO, I see very little wrong with engaging them in discussion. I sure had plenty of people engage me in discussion when my friends and I went down for the 30th anniversary (or something, I can’t make the dates square in my head) of Roe, carrying signs and wearing t-shirts. It might have been awkward, but at least she gave them something to think about.

(wow, so why WOULDN’T my story be posted on a financial website? awesome.)

@josefinastrummer The reason we think clinic protesters suck, is that they are gathered as political actors to harass women who are engaging in private, personal actions. Women aren’t going to the gynecologist in order to ~engage the commons~ or ~make their voices heard~ or any other such small-d-democratic happy horseshit; they’re going to get a Pap smear or pick up some pills or maybe, yeah, end an unwanted pregnancy.

These kids, on the other hand, were in DC completely as political actors. If they’re going to have a major world religion throw them a parade in the capital of the free world to tell me what *they* think, then they’re fair game in the course of doing that to spend two and a half minutes in a public space listening to what *I* think.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

So… I met Michelle on Thursday night, at one of the events that pulled her away from DC during the March for Life. I think people are missing something in their comments here. Her goal here was not necessarily to convince these kids RIGHT NOW to be pro-choice. Her goal was to make sure that these kids heard at least one narrative of not regretting an abortion. She accomplished that goal: the kids heard her. There’s a lot of power in her action, because these kids only ever hear about abortion in the context of regret and breast cancer (false) and traumatic aftereffects and all this other bullshit. Just standing up and talking to them is an amazing thing, and I’m so impressed by Michelle’s willingness to stand up and talk about the abortion that she does not regret in a train car full of people.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@RachelG8489 I am glad that Michelle’s intentions were to educate these girls but I still don’t think it was very effective. You know what I do when anyone stands up on a train and starts talking? I stop listening, almost out of principle. I turn my headphones up and pay closer attention to my book. Yes, I probably miss out on stuff I would like to hear, but to hold a group of people captive even for five minutes is, to me, unnecessary and rude.

And hey, maybe in 10 years one of the girls from the train is going to write an article mentioning this, saying it opened her eyes. Awesome. But the odds of that are really unlikely because teenagers really don’t care what the adults they have to listen say, why would they listen to a stranger who just blurted out her abortion story?

theotherginger (#1,304)

@josefinastrummer personal narratives are compelling. even if the first one you hear is on a train, it’s a great place to start (and super courageous of the speaker on the train). I grew up in a context where I was exposed to pro-life literature and personal narratives of abortion regret so it took me a while to be pro-choice. The narratives are compelling and eventually they add up.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

@josefinastrummer I don’t think her intentions were to educate in the way you’re thinking. I think her intention was to make sure they knew that people who do not regret their abortions exist. And I can’t remember where I saw it or I would cite it for you, but Michelle posted somewhere that apparently most of the kids were sitting quietly and appeared to be listening. Keep in mind the difference between someone who does this on the subway (people who ride every day and are trained to block it out) and a group of high school kids from New Orleans on Amtrak. They’re not regular train riders, and they’re used to having to listen when an adult starts talking to them- plus, the adult with them tried to get Michelle to shut up, and that’s certainly grabbing attention!

(and by the way, it was a coed group of students, not just girls, and it’s just as important to make sure boys know that abortion without regret exists!)

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