First off, I do in fact have a particular side on the abortion debate that I land no. No, I’m not going to say what it is, though some of you may already know (if you do, please don’t mention it in the Comments section). I don’t want people on the same side as me to think that I’m lecturing the other side more (I’m lecturing them both equally), and I also don’t want the other side to dismiss what I have to say because I’m of the opposing view. I am also unlikely to join any public rally based on my position for fear that the resulting stress and conflict will promptly turn my hair grey.
Well, I might regret doing this, but here goes (if you comment on this, please consider the guidelines described below and don’t try to turn the Comments section into an angry argument):
1. The pro-life and pro-choice movements are not polar opposites. They come at abortion from different angles that are in conflict but their views aren’t opposite.
2. Most pro-lifers are not out to interfere with a woman’s right to her body; they’re out to protect the unborn fetus.
3. Most pro-choicers are not out to go all Freddy Krueger on a fetus. They are out to protect a woman’s rights to her body.
4. Note that I say “most” above. Neither side are collective drones and different people within each movement have different agendas and different degrees and methods to which they promote their point of view.
5. Further to that last point, yes, there are pro-lifers who commit acts of terrorism which are contrary to the stated goal of their mission.
6. There are also pro-choicers who in pressuring a woman to have an abortion are unduly affecting her choice.
7. Therefore both sides have hypocrites in their midst.
8. If one chooses to believe the hypocrites are the majority and not the minority, it’s game over for any sort of meaningful discussion.
9. Conversely acknowledging that one’s own side does have hypocrites helps put someone on the other side at ease.
10. Neither side entirely trusts the other. However, if there is any solution to be found, each side must accept that some within the other side can be taken at face value.
11. Further to the above, neither side will ever “win”. The best we can hope for is a compromise that both sides can tolerate.
12. In most cases, a key determinant of which side one lands on is when one believes life to truly begin. The pro-choices tend to perceive a later point than the pro-lifers.
13. Describing the other side as “anti-choice” or “anti-life”, which perhaps true for some of its members should be discourage because it contributes nothing to resolving the matter and only enhances friction.
14. Both sides have those in their midst who don’t want any sort of resolution because being mad at the other side is its own reward for them, and a true meeting of the minds would interfere with that.
15. People on both sides need to look in their hearts and decide if they want to have a fight they can’t win or a peaceful if not entirely satisfactory compromise. They can’t have both.
16. Both sides’ views tend to be influenced by their spiritual beliefs (Christianity, a belief in nothing out there, etc.).
17. Again, though not everyone with land on the same side as most who share the same spiritual beliefs.
18. We all have a limited time on this planet. Particularly if one has never been directly impacted by abortion issues, both sides need to decide if it’s really worth ending friendships or family relationships over.
19. Another reason why throwing accusations out or trying to colour the other side’s views according to one’s own (including tossing out one’s side’s rhetoric) is it puts the other side’s guard up and they put up mental blocks for discussion.
20. Even if someone has their doubts about the other sides’ views, if they acknowledge what the other side claims to believe, both sides will likely be more comfortable with a meeting of the minds.
21. Both sides have a right to state their opinion publicly without threat to personal safety (physical or emotional).
22. Conversely, in a private conversation both sides have a right to say, “I don’t feel comfortable/safe discussing this any further (or at all)”; at that point the other side should move on to a discussion of the Smurfs or some other safe topic.
23. There are some on both sides of the debate that one will never be able to debate with on this matter. Oh well. Don’t even try to debate with them. It will just raise stress levels.
24. Abortion debates are most interesting when two moderates debate. Debates between two extremists just leads to yelling matches, and debates between an extremist and a moderate tend to just lead the moderate to want to escape the situation.
25. If a debate on abortion does go well, it’s always nice to say after, “I disagree with your position but I want you to know I respect you/your viewpoint nevertheless.”
26. It’s been my experience that if both sides mutually agree to keep the debate friendly, generally after the debate the friendship is as good as if not better than before the debate because there’s an extra level of trust now.