Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Prolife/Prochoice Communication Gap

Many conversations I've had with people who support abortion rights go absolutely nowhere. The same is true for many conversations I've witnessed on Twitter between pro-life and pro-choice people. Why is that? Why are both sides unable to have productive conversations with each other? I believe there is one major factor that causes this communication gap. It is what I call the life vs. rights factor.

When a pro-life person discusses the abortion issue, they approach it from the standpoint of the life of the unborn child. The focus of their argument is to prove the unborn child is a human being that deserves to live. When a pro-choice person discusses the abortion issue, they approach it from they standpoint of women's rights. The primary goal of the pro-choice person is to ensure that women have the freedom to choose what they want or don't want to do. This goal is not limited to abortion rights.

Conversations between pro-life and pro-choice people usually start out with a debate about the personhood of the fetus. Even if the pro-life person can get the pro-choice person to admit that the fetus is a "baby", the conversation eventually stalemates. Why? Because the pro-choice person will not agree that abortion should be illegal, because that would mean that women don't have the right to do anything they want. The notion is in direct opposition to the radical feminist version of the women's rights movement that many pro-choice people belong to. On the other hand, the pro-life person will not agree that a woman has the right to do anything she wants with her body, because that would give her the right to kill her unborn child.

So, how do we get beyond this impasse? I'm still looking for the answer. One thing I do know is that the pro-life and pro-choice forces might come to a better understanding of each other if they learn to follow these simple rules:

1. Treat each other with respect and dignity.

2. Don't use inciteful words. If you don't like it when someone uses words that tick you off, don't do the same thing to others.

3. Share with the other person what you believe. Don't tell them what they believe. They know much better than you what they believe.

4. If the person you're talking to makes a valid point, have the humility to acknowledge it. 

5. If the person you are talking to is being nasty to you, try being extra nice to them. If you do, you might win them over. If you fight nasty with nasty, I'll guarantee that you won't get anywhere.

I really believe that most people in both the pro-life and pro-choice movements feel they are doing the right thing. I doubt that there are many pro-choice people who support abortion rights so that fetuses can be brutally dismembered. Likewise, I doubt that there are many pro-life people who want to make abortion illegal in order to take away women's rights and force women to do things they don't want to do.

Let us all put the rhetoric and hatefulness aside and treat each other with dignity and respect. If we do so, we might actually make progress towards a solution to the abortion issue.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on this blog are moderated. Please be respectful when posting a comment. Comments that contain profanity or racial slurs will not be posted.