Lindsey Horvath is pro-choice. This may not be surprising, considering Horvath was recently re-elected to the City Council of West Hollywood, one of Southern California’s most liberal cities which declared itself pro-choice nearly 30 years ago.

What is surprising is that Horvath grew up with a Catholic upbringing, attending religious schools for most of her young life and in college at the University of Notre Dame. Despite religious views and support of abortion seemingly at odds in common political rhetoric, the councilmember said she is pro-choice because of her faith, not in spite of it.

The councilmember believes life begins at conception and that abortion is the termination of a life, views that more commonly align with those who are pro-life.

Horvath also believes the world is a better place when women have safe and legal access to abortion. She said in an interview she does not want to live in a world where abortion is illegal and only available to the rich, while the poor are left to go about the procedure in unsafe ways.

She said her Catholic values have guided her in her life and throughout her public service.

“Because of my Catholic upbringing, when I see people being mistreated, it’s impossible for me to unsee it,” Horvath said.

Horvath grew up on the east side of Cleveland, where she attended Catholic school until she was 15. When her dad took a job in Las Vegas, her family moved to Nevada. She left religious schooling for a few years, before returning to the Midwest to attend one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation.

A political science and gender studies double major, Horvath became heavily involved with organizations on campus that dealt with issues affecting women. She helped produce The Vagina Monologues, which Horvath said was no easy feat given the university’s conservative Catholic nature.

Horvath said she also helped create a Gay-Straight Alliance and championed the addition of language in the university’s non-discrimination policy for faculty and staff regarding sexual orientation.

Since then, she has evolved into a leader on women’s issues, serving as a Global Coordinator for One Billion Rising, a campaign to end rape and sexual assault against women, and as a member of the West Hollywood Women’s Advisory Board.

While being a voice on women’s and sexual orientation issues seemed like a no-brainer to her, Horvath said her stance on abortion has been an evolution.

She remembers going to the right to life Mass with her mother as a young child and asking, “Why would anyone want to kill babies?”

In high school, she had a close friend who had an abortion. Horvath described it as “the worst kept secret” at school. Instead of feeling angry or resentful that her friend had an abortion, Horvath said she felt horrible for her. Seeing her friend deal with the guilt and shame that came with the procedure is something Horvath still distinctly remembers two decades later.

When Horvath moved to West Hollywood, she began meeting people who had positive experiences with the procedure. She said she met women who explained to her what having access to abortion meant to them.

Between the experience she had with her high school friend and the stories she heard from community members, Horvath came to realize she wrongly believed that women who had abortions have no regard for life nor personal morals. Instead, she learned that the decision to have an abortion is complex, but the procedure ultimately benefits them….

As a Catholic, Horvath said she doesn’t think it is her role to tell women what to do with their bodies.

“I think we’re not called to tell people what to do; we’re called to show people how to live,” Horvath said….

The above comes from an April 27 posting on USC Annenberg Media,