According to a Department of Homeland Security memo leaked to the press on Wednesday, the United States government is bracing for a surge of violence following the anticipated release of the Dobbs’ abortion ruling. They’re predicting a “summer of rage.” While a decision could come down any day, most expect its release toward the end of June.
I can guarantee you any attacks will not come from those who support life. They will come from anarchists and abortion activists committed to preserving a culture of death. The 8-foot metal fence surrounding the Supreme Court certainly wasn’t constructed to keep out the Sisters of Life.
Assuming the majority holds from the leaked draft of the decision from February, Roe will be overturned, and the issue of abortion will be returned to the states. We are praying fervently for this outcome.
But how might we engage on the topic with reasonable people who hold to a different point of view, including our own adult children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends? It’s actually not as difficult as you may think.
Given that Roe has been the law of the land for a half-century, beliefs about abortion are deeply entrenched. Yet, that doesn’t mean people have thought long and critically about the issue. In many cases, the majority of abortion supporters have just accepted it. So, asking questions of people who see things differently than we do is a good place to start a dialogue.
In fact, asking sincere questions rather than making statements is almost always a good way to engage a hot topic. It allows the other person to feel valued and communicates your sincere desire to understand where they might be coming from.
For example, I might start out by asking:
“Can you help me understand why you feel that abortion on demand, and up to the point of birth, should be the law of the land?”
At this point, some will pull back and tell you they don’t favor late-term abortion. That will provide you with an opening to share that many states actually allow it. When my own state of Colorado passed the most radical abortion law in the country, many citizens reported being shocked by it – despite months of news, debate and commentary. The reality is most people just don’t pay attention. In fact, a recent poll suggested the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial is of more interest to Americans than abortion.
This apathy/ignorance is regrettable – but it also provides an opportunity. Since many people only think they know why they believe what they believe, pro-life supporters may have more of an opening than we might otherwise think.
Another provocative but engaging question to ask is, “When do you think life begins?” Or, “Would you agree that every abortion involves two people – the mother and the child?”
It’s important to listen carefully to their answers. “Know this, my beloved brothers,” wrote James. “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (1:19). By listening, we’re showing respect – and gleaning information that will allow us to respond intelligently, correcting any of the many falsehoods attached to the abortion debate.
Given the number of abortions (over 60 million) since 1973, there’s a good chance you may encounter someone who has had one or has someone in their family who made that tragic choice. It is not our place or role to cast judgment. You might say, “This must be an extremely emotional and deeply personal issue. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for you.”
Another good question to ask is: “Do you realize there are nearly a million abortions a year and over one million couples waiting to adopt here in the United States? Would you agree that adoption is a better option that abortion?”
You might then share that some of the most successful people in American history were adopted, including Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, President Gerald Ford, First Lady Nancy Reagan, Booker T. Washington and Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles and Scott Hamilton. They didn’t succeed in spite of being adopted – but in many because they were adopted.
When we engage on difficult and controversial topics, it’s important to remember that we’re probably not going to change a person’s mind in a single conversation. We’re simply planting seeds and hopefully giving them something to think about. It was Abraham Lincoln who aptly observed, “If you wish to win a man over to your ideas, first make him your friend.”
When discussing controversial topics, sincerity and integrity are far more important than polished talking points. And most importantly of all, pray before you open your mouth and ask the Holy Spirit to help you.