We just got this great outreach story from Nicole at Students for Life at the University of Michigan!
A young man came up to our Students for Life table where we were asking people where they stood on abortion from “Illegal in All Cases” to “Legal in All Cases” He was going to put the sticker where it said abortion should be “legal in all cases.” My friend Elise and I started asking him what that meant to him. We later specified and asked about sex-selective abortions, abortions based on handicaps, and other such situations. He seemed to be surprised, as if no one had ever brought these up to him before. He then put down his sticker. I asked more clarification questions to understand his viewpoint. We discussed a variety of concerns, such as his right to speak being a man, and a woman’s right to her own choices. I used the tool of “Trotting Out a Toddler” several times and he was very interested in the questions I was asking.
I then brought out the Equal Rights Argument, which was my first time using it since taking the online ERI course. I was probably a little confusing for a bit, but we discovered his personhood argument, which depended on the organism’s ability to think. I then explained the difference between capacity/potential and its actualization, which he seemed to enjoy (I hope I’m using the right terms, I’m not a philosophy major!). He kept going back to women having choices, and so we discussed what that entailed and what should be legal and what should not be. It was a great, fruitful conversation. He was very kind and open-minded. It ended with him writing down the name of our club, and hopefully he contacts us. If you see this, it was great talking to you, and I’d love to again!
I would also like to add one thing I learned today while doing dialogue. Whenever someone came up to us and put their sticker on “legal in all cases,” I would get scared. They couldn’t tell, but I was sweating! I knew that most of the time they didn’t actually mean all cases, but I usually get nervous before conversations (although I hide it very well, I must say). And once I started talking to this man, I was so impressed with his open-mindedness and kindness, and realized that I had had a stereotype for what a pro-choicer was. It was a nice thing to be reminded not to stereotype the people who come up and assume who they will be and what they will be like.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have discussions and impressed with how many people want to talk with us. I’m also glad to feel more equipped thanks to ERI and my club.