How Empathy is the Key to the Abortion DiscussionOct 12, 2023
Discussing abortion in our world today can seem impossible. Even when you realize the value these conversations can bring, you may not take part in them. One of the main ways we can best engage in discussions about abortion is to engage in empathy. At ProGrace, we strive to discuss abortion using grace and empathy. We can help you engage in productive discussions about abortion using empathy.
Why it is Difficult to Discuss Abortion
Our current political climate makes us view topics like abortion a certain way. For most of us, we often feel we have to align with one of the two major “camps”: Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. Within this system, people feel like they need to support one group and villainize the other. The reality is much more complicated. Those affected by unintended pregnancy have real concerns and decisions to make. Even people who have not experienced these issues firsthand have an opinion. These opinions often come from their beliefs and experiences. We have found that most people fall somewhere between both of the two major “camps”. Understanding this is key to having these conversations. Learn why empathy is the superpower that can change the way we discuss abortion and even the way we respond to it.
Mental Barriers to Understanding Others
We tend to categorize the things and people we encounter as part of our brain’s understanding of the world. We also want to define our position on critical topics because we want others to know what we stand for. While this is natural, it prevents us from hearing what the other person is saying. Because of this, it becomes harder to find common ground. Suppose we could listen to what the other person says on a topic as complex as abortion. We may find that they have beliefs and questions that do not fit into the political side they have taken.
Understanding that our brains categorize people is only one part of the process. We also need to understand how our culture has shaped us to seek out differences. We have adopted a mental model when a person comments on a divisive issue like abortion. With this model, we decide that their views on the issue fall on one side or another. From there, your brain labels them as friend or foe. But there is often more context behind a person’s opinion on abortion. We must listen to other views with an open mind. Having an open mind allows us to search their words for commonalities. When we discover what we have in common, we can see them as more than a member of one category.
Why Better Conversations Start with How We Listen
We need to think about how to approach others to have successful conversations. The key to these conversations is listening with empathy. When we engage with people who hold different opinions, we listen to them. Seek to understand why they feel the way they do. Even people on the “other side” of the political spectrum will have some things in common with you. You will find many points of agreement, and stereotypes begin to seem less applicable. Every person is a compilation of beliefs, experiences, education, and cultural context. At the end of the day, we may not vote the same or agree on everything. But, if we can find common ground, we discover that we have more in common than we realize. We may even find ways to work together toward shared goals that benefit our communities.
As we discuss abortion, we may begin to understand another person’s motives and experiences. As we discuss this more, we will realize that we share the same passion for the welfare of women and children. We can remove politics from our conversations and focus on the beliefs we hold in common. We can change the conversation’s trajectory from an argument to a discovery. It helps to bring healing to us, other people, and our communities.
What Motivates Us to Have Better Conversations Around Abortion
We know that talking about it can bring us closer together. It helps us to discover our commonalities and understand one another. When we are open to honest and empathetic conversation, we can take part in the issue in a meaningful way. We also know that when you listen with empathy, you better reflect Jesus in your interactions. By representing Jesus in our discussions, we provide a better representation of Him. This is especially important when we talk with people who have differing opinions. When faced with difficult decisions, He never took a side but gave a third, Kingdom answer. He made the people involved feel comfortable, asked questions, and listened. He talked to people because He cared about what they had to say. He truly wanted to understand the person and his or her decisions.
We must become more passionate about this issue and work to make the Church a haven for all. For those dealing with unintended pregnancy or abortion, the Church should be a safe home. We need to work together to love people more than ever. It can be more powerful than any of us realize.
If this blog strikes a chord with you, contact us today. If you want to dive deeper into the ProGrace approach and beliefs, we have a course for that. You can take the course alone, with a group of friends, or bring it to your church or organization for group study. Join our community of like-minded people who want to change how we approach abortion.
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