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What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Abortion

I’m a Law Students for Reproductive Justice member at the University of Washington, and last year at this time I went to a conference on abortion at Princeton that aimed to discover common ground between abortion-rights proponents and anti-abortion activists.

Many of my RJ friends found the conference frustrating and unsatisfying, but I had a totally different reaction. I made interesting connections with some of the “pro-life” students I met there, who didn’t think the way I’d assumed they did. I began to think that finding “common ground” in this sense is possible. What’s more, I began to suspect that it might be essential to achieving many reproductive-justice and feminist goals. Similarly, I started to think that the “worldview” of folks identifying as pro-life Catholics isn’t actually as alien as secular RJ activists might assume. But finding common ground with those who oppose abortion isn’t as easy as just thinking of things that they MIGHT find appealing — like suggesting ”let’s work to reduce abortions!” and throwing those ideas out there.We have to actually get to know them first; and they should actually get to know us, and what we think – rather than caricaturing who we are and what we think.

What I argue, in a series that I’m doing this week with a Catholic theologian on a blog called Catholic Moral Theology, is that before we can begin to think about ...