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Do you want to discuss abortion with your pro-choice friends, but can’t figure out where to start? Abortion is an uncomfortable subject, so most people are reluctant to initiate a conversation about it. If you want to have a productive dialogue, then you don’t want to bring up abortion in a way that either feels unnecessarily confrontational or awkwardly puts your friends on the spot.
If you’ve never talked about abortion with your pro-choice friends before, then your goal for that first conversation should be modest—you simply want to build some rapport and lay the groundwork for future conversations. People are much more likely to change their minds slowly over time than all at once in one epic conversation.[Tweet that!] When you have pro-choice friends, you have the unique opportunity to give them the time to process your arguments and work through the details with you. The first conversation about abortion is the foundation of everything that is to follow. It is like a first impression, even if you have been friends for a decade. Viewing it as one piece of a much bigger picture will help you set realistic expectations.
Here are six ways to bring up abortion with your friends:
#1: Ask for their help
This method is great for pro-life advocates who are inexperienced at discussing abortion or are trying to improve their dialogue skills. Asking your friend to help you learn more about abortion from a pro-choice person’s perspective might be a great first step. You should do so in a way that tells your friend that you respect their viewpoint and that you are willing to learn from them.
Can we do something weird? In this time where people from opposing sides of political issues just yell at each other in all caps on Twitter, I’d love to actually grab coffee and listen to what you have to say on the abortion issue. I’m open-minded and want to create more balance in the opinions I’m exposed to. What do you think?
#2: Invite them to a pro-life event
There are some pro-life speakers and events that are appropriate for a mixed audience of both pro-life and pro-choice people. Some pro-life events, however, are specifically geared towards a pro-life audience, so you should carefully consider any event to which you want to invite your pro-choice friends. An ideal event would be one that is open to the public, informative, and has an open-ended format. If you are familiar with the speaker and you can research their work in advance to determine whether they are a good culture fit, such an event may be a great opportunity for you to introduce a friend to the subject. Debates are also a great option because they can be interesting, and pro-choice people may feel more comfortable going to these because both sides are represented. You could have your first conversation about abortion during a discussion over coffee after the event or at the time of the invitation.
So, there is this speaker coming to campus next week to give a lecture on abortion. I’m interested in going, but I don’t want to go alone. Would you like to join me?
#3: Start with common ground
We talk about common ground a great deal on this blog, so if you are familiar with our content, this may feel a bit redundant, but it would be a disservice to exclude it from this list. Beginning a dialogue with points on which you already agree reduces tension and helps your friend relate more to your perspective.
Have you noticed that it seems like people don’t even know how to talk with people they disagree with anymore? I feel like every time I go on Facebook, I see people fighting about politics, and they are really rude about it. What’s up with that?
#4: Ask a meta question
If you don’t know how your friend may react to you bringing up the subject, start your conversation by asking a question that isn’t directly related to abortion or politics. This can help you break the ice and give you a better picture of how they may react when you eventually do.
Do you ever feel uncomfortable talking about controversial issues with people?
#5: Use a recent news story
Abortion has been in the news a great deal lately, which makes it a more accessible subject, even though it is still hard to talk about. Whether you want to discuss Supreme Court decisions or abortion legislation in general, many recent developments in reproductive law may serve as an effective segue into a conversation about abortion. Ask your friend whether they have heard or seen any news about a recent development and for their thoughts about it.
Hey, did you see that Ireland made abortion legal? I feel like everyone was talking about it on Twitter.
#6: Ask for their opinion about something local
Similar to the last point, this opener brings up recent developments in abortion law, with a particular focus on events in your local community. People are often more interested in discussing situations that they feel will affect them personally rather than national or global events, such as the example of legalized abortion in Ireland. If your friend is not really into politics or the news, then this second version may be a better choice.
Have you ever seen those people that stand out by the public library on South Maple Street and King’s Road with the ‘Abortion Stops a Beating Heart’ signs? I drove by them the other day. What do you think of them?
Question: Do you have any ways of starting conversations with your pro-choice friends that have worked well for you? I want to hear about them! Email me your stories at Rachel@EqualRightsInstitute.com.
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The post “Six Abortion Conversation Starters” originally appeared at the Equal Rights Institute blog. Subscribe to our email list with the form below and get a FREE gift. Click here to learn more about our pro-life apologetics course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations About Abortion.”