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Home » Blog » Dialogue about abortion on peace sofas

Dialogue about abortion on peace sofas


On June 18, 2018, Mirjam and Andrea walked into a room to see their own, personal sofas had been cut in half and merged with another. They had never met before. Mirjam is passionate about a woman's rights to choose an abortion. Andrea is a devout pro-life Catholic. But despite their differences, they sat down together to peacefully discuss their differences. Both came away with a greater and more compassionate understanding of the other's side.

Their merged sofa become part of the public art exhibition at Museum Quartiers in Vienna that was seen by more than 60 thousand people accroding the the MQ.

Listen to their conversation here: or read it below.

Andrea: So, what I want to say about abortion is just my personal opinion, it is not something to offend you or offend any different opinion. Mirjam: Yes, I think one can always only speak from personal experience and opinion. And it is such a sensitive topic.

A: Exactly. So, for me, out of my Christian believe I believe that life starts by conceiving and until the day of delivery it´s already life. I truly believe that out of certain responsibility to the unborn life we truly should not .... You know we do also have responsibility towards elderly, sick or handicapped people so we also have responsibility over unborn life. When two people get together they should take this responsibility. M: Yes, I think that would be the ideal way if it works this way, but there are many exceptional situations...

A: Exactly, there are exceptions of course. Like in violent case like rape, I´d never judge a women if does for herself this decision to go for it. But I believe in a merciful loving God and you have to come clean with your conscious and your conscious and what you decide. M: I was also brought up in Christian faith so I know the basic ideas about it and I consider myself a religious person even if I don´t have the confession or I am not in the Church at the moment...I might re-enter actually, because my sister is pregnant and she asked me to be the Godmother, so I have to re-enter again in order to be able to do that life is something sacred and you cannot really say whether like three months old child is not a valid human being, I think it is very hard to say that. It is also hard to say when life starts.

A: I truly believe that it starts on the first day, but of course some women in certain situation, like when doctors or relatives push you into certain decisions because of a medical advice it has syndrome 21 or something like that, and then women might not know what to do in that situation and might be pushed into decisions for medical reasons. That´s what they say always. In that case you can´t blame the women for that decision. M: I think it is hard. I can never blame a woman for having an abortion, because I think it is such a hard decision and I hope I will never have to make that decision myself.

A: That is why I said, nobody, who has never been in that situation, can never actually say something about it. M: Or like know what you are going through. I think it is also very tricky, because if you are pregnant you will go through so many different emotional states.

A: You don´t have a child. M: No, I don´t. A: I do have two and once you feel it, it is an amazing feeling. You can´t imagine. It is just you and the baby - you are one. It is a unity, it´s such an overwhelming feeling, it is like what I discovered for myself to face the God. When you feel this love for God in your heart, and you have this certain satisfaction and this peace inside, you can give this joy to others. And when you have this child inside of you, it is an unbelievable feeling and that is why I truly believe that each child is the gift of the Lord, but in certain situations I would never judge a women for certain step she takes, except when she says "just because of my figure", "because of my house/car". Then, for me personally that´s a sin to abort then. You know... M: When you say the gift of God, I think that there are so many gifts of God in this life, but being a human being we cannot always treat them well, or sometimes we just don´t know how to handle certain situations in our life and I get some friends who are not very religious and they say it is just a sick concept in our minds and I really know some people who just don´t feel it and they have very different approach to all of these topics. I can imagine that there are some women who don´t think about life in these dimensions. It has something to do with the free will and choices and it is a space of personal freedom and that is why I think that every woman should be able to decide...basically even if I think that it is sad that she does it, she should be able to decide for herself.

A: No, I cannot agree. It is inside of her tummy but it is not that the woman can say "it is inside me, I can do whatever I like with it". There is a certain responsibility, I feel. Unless in a certain criminal cases, like rape, or when medical doctors refer to certain situations that threaten the life of the mother or the child. Otherwise I feel, even if you don´t decide and it happens (that you conceive) and it is a mistake (but the mistakes are loved always the most). Anyway, once you know you are pregnant, you have a certain responsibility I believe. It is a sin, but I would not judge the women. Who am I to judge? It´s written in the Bible: throw the first stone the one who is free from guilt. We are not here to judge anybody. In Ireland they had a referendum and thanks God the strict law is now gone, because this is really terrible. I feel that with your conscious, with your heart and mind, you should do what is right.

M: I think even if you are not religious, humans are born with certain feelings for morals...some people are not... A: I believe you build it up also.

M: Yes, but I think that you can sense it even as a child that it is not right to hit someone or kill someone, and we have some natural instincts for that. A: And then you build up your conscious and you make your decisions out of your believe or society.

M: basically it is good that women are free to make this decision, because if it was forbidden and they still wanted to do it, they might be forced to go to just anyone who cannot treat them the right way. A: Of course. How many women died in the old ages, because they did it anyway illegally, or they ended up in prisons, because they did it. We have loving merciful God and you have to come clean with your own conscious. What you do is you, your body and this unborn life. One politician once said towards sick and handicapped or old people, we have this mercy feeling towards people. M: It would be very beautiful if we can treat it this way, but I think that some people are not capable of taking their responsibility for themselves, they struggle to treat themselves well. A: That´s too. But there are these baby clubs; you can give the child for adoption or care. But this is also sometimes a very hard decision.

M: It would always leave the child with the question "why didn´t you want me?". A: In all cases very difficult, but I believe that once you are together with somebody, there are no guarantees in life. You know even if people separate or whatsoever, the child is always your child and stays forever and it is the most beautiful gift in the world to have a child.

M: Probably yes, I cannot feel that, but if I imagine if I was pregnant, what I´d be the most concerned about when I think of being a mother I´d like to give lot of love to my child and I guess if I don´t feel happy about this child or If I fail to have good feelings about this child, or have problems to nurture it or give love to it, I´d be really concerned of what sort of imprint it does on the child´s personality and what sort of human beign it woulddevelop into. A: From the first moment you can always give love. I thought always that I cannot give enough love with my first child and ... each child is different. Look. My big one is demanding attention 24 hours a day. If I don´t give her five minutes I am not a good mother. The other one, if I give her just those 5 minutes out of 24 hours, I am a perfect mother. It depends on the personality of the child. Believe me; you are always ready to give enough love for your children. I have never thought I can love the second one like I love the first one, because i focused only on one, right? But you can split your love to so many people and even later. What I become to realize and started practicing more and more I felt that you can´t give love to so many people. I always thought it is only one person, or one child. You know, like a property of some sort. But you can spread it. Once you feel this love of Jesus in your heart, just spread it. It is beautiful.

M: If you can do so, it is very nice. What I wanted to say is like, if I am pregnant and I am not happy about it, I don´t want this child, I am not happy about the choice of the father... if i imagine that I carry this child with me for nine months and from the firs moment I know I don´t like it, I would be really worried what it would do to the child, how it is going to end up. A: Once you have feelings towards the father of the child, whatever feeling it was at the beginning...

M: They might go... A: Exactly, that´s what I said, there are no guarantees in life. But when you had this feeling and you invested these emotions towards the father of the child, you will love the child eventually. I mean immediately.

M: Probably, I think it is something like a natural instinct and the love of the mother is probably the strongest on Earth I guess, but I can imagine that there are some women who really cannot feel that and I think that it really feels wrong for a woman to have this inside me... A: But you have to think of this impact of this, what the woman does to have body should and mind when she aborts.

M: Yes, there are so many women who regret that. A: They develop depressions, sometimes even panic attacks, and of course body wise it can lead to infertility that you can never ever have a child again. You know, so of course there are women who just say they did it and they accept it and for them it is like going for dinner or something and there are women who really regret it. This has to be psychologically, soul wise, body wise...everything considered all together. It all has to be considered. It is like after delivery. Like these postnatal depressions, it is unbelievable for some women. Some women recover quickly, others have trauma for 15 years and they never want another child. Each body, soul, mind are different. I truly believe that each one should make the decision for herself alone. My, as a Christian believer, I believe life starts by conceiving and we should take care of this life.

M: That´s the ideal situation. M: Maybe I am bit idealistic. M: I am idealistic too... as i said, if a woman really feels wrong about having this child even if she might regret it 30 years later I think she should be free to do so. A: No, this one...I agree with you. I am against punishment, or for it to be forbidden in the country, I mean we have to have the free choice. I always believe if you stand in front of a judge here or in front of the judge later on and you can say why and explain it, come clean with your conscious, it is a complete personal question. I don´t think that anybody can force something like this on anybody.

A: I have to say that I am conservative, but liberal thinking so I do believe that you have to have this mercy feeling, this understanding of other people, because it is not always your opinion what is the right one, although it feels like this subjectively, but we have to give the right to everybody to say and feel his opinion. Then sometimes it makes you think and feel about it and maybe say "I was wrong" and revert your ideas. It is sometimes very hard to talk to people who have a stand like this and don´t see anything out of their box. I think to widen your mental status is getting out of the box, to go in a different level and give this kind of understanding and love and I feel if you can give this love...I mean, for me it just hit me four years ago. I was a Christian, just baptized and living this normal life, like intelligent and how you should be and I had my stand against abortion back then too, but when you feel this love, this satisfaction and how much joy you can give to other is unbelievable. M: I guess you are very lucky then. I wish everybody has this. A: I feel it is a gift.

M: May I ask you something? You as a believer, what do you think of the Church´s position about this topic? A: Of course the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church has a very clear position. No Abortion, except when the woman´s health is at stake, than it is the mother to be saved. I am not really clear about that. That´s what I heart once. In certain cases, me as a believer.

M: Are you a member of the Catholic Church? A: Yes. I believe as I said before, in a rape case or whatsoever, I have my question too. I cannot say to a woman that this is a sin when she aborts. This would be cynical. It is like punishing her for being a victim. But this is different from the Roman Catholic Church, that is why I say that I am liberal thinking about that. I think what is important in the church is to give understanding to people. It is important that you reach out the hand to people, live a life.

M: So you would like to see some progress in the Church way of thinking? A: Yes. A: can sit here if you like... tell me about your sofa. M: I got this sofa from my parents. They had it in spare for a while and I moved to Vienna few years ago and my dad asked me if I wanted to have it and I wanted to but didn´t know how to bring it to Vienna, so I waited for a while until a friend of mine came to Vienna with a car and he did the transport for me. I moved 3 months ago, so I ended up with this sofa and another sofa of my former flatmate so it was just too much and wanted to get some space, then my other flatmate told me about this project and I thought that it is perfect possibility to sort of contribute, get some more space and have a good feeling about where I am giving it.

A: It was very nice meeting you. M: Yes, You too.

A: It was very enchanting to know more about it, how you feel about the whole subject. M: Yes, it is always good to talk about it, because at the beginning one might be like "oh, I have my opinion and I am gonna stand for it", but it good to open up.

A: Maybe I make you think about it once you get pregnant. M: Oh, if i get pregnant now, I would not have an abortion. I hope I will never have to make that decision, because I never know in which situation I may be.

A: Yes. For me it is something positive, when you think twice or three times about it. M: Yes, but I think that these women who just do it instantly, I think it is always a struggle even if you decide for having an abortion.

A: I think some just do it instantly. They just don´t feel right about it and they say "I don´t want it". You know we live in throwaway society that...I don´t wanna say all the women are like this, many think about it and go to a psychologist or get a treatment and they really struggle inside for weeks or months is about yes, no, yes, no, what should I do? But some just say I do that and that´s it. M: Yeah, even if they do so... M: It is their choice you mean.... M: Yes. A: that´s what I say, once it is in your tummy it is not only your responsibility anymore. But you should not get punished for it. M: But with this idea, even my own body is not my choice, because I did not create it, is so tricky to talk about this.... I think that we agree on many levels... A: Yes, definitely.

Lukáš Zorád
Lukáš Zorád

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