Specifically, she takes issue with this paragraph by Steve:
It appears from their article that Kissling and Michelman are calling for an internal discussion of the effective pro-life challenges they've highlighted, but I would encourage them to go further. Talk to pro-life advocates about them. We're ready to listen, understand and build common ground first in order to really hear your concerns and perspective.In reply to Steve's post, Jill writes:
I am concerned that some on our side see Michelman and Kissling's piece as some sort of mea culpa, and pro-lifers should stand ready to hold hands with them singing "Kumbaya....I for one will never try to "build common ground" with the abortion industry. There is no common ground. The culture of death is the sworn enemy of the culture of life. This is a war, a clash of civilizations.I think if Jill reads more of what Steve has to say she'll come to a radically different view of his position. Unlike some pro-lifers, Steve has never suggested that we compromise with abortion-advocates in hopes of finding "common ground." He's not advocating common ground as a final goal, that is, as a means of ducking legitimate debate. He's not interested in getting abortion-advocates to like us at all cost. To the contrary, he recognizes that finding points of agreement is a very effective tool in persuading someone to rethink areas of disagreement.
For example, notice how Steve starts pro-life conversations on college campuses. His strategy is simple and effective: He moves the conversation from debate to dialogue by asking the right questions. Each step of the way, he’s establishing common ground with his listener:
"Look around this campus at all of the born people. Would you agree that each person has the same basic rights, that each should be treated equally?"Why does Steve begin this way? Because he knows almost everyone he talks to believes in the basic human rights of all born people, regardless of differences or disabilities. He then asks his listener to explain why equal human rights exist for anyone:
"But if all of us should be treated equally, there must be some quality, some characteristic, we all have equally that justifies that equal treatment, right? What is that characteristic? (Pause) Wouldn’t you agree it can’t be that all of us look human, because some have been disfigured. It can’t be that all of us have functional brains, because some are in reversible comas. It can’t be one’s ability to think or feel pain, for some think better than others and some don’t feel any pain. It can’t be something we can gain or lose, or something of which we can have more or less. If something like that grounds rights, equal rights don’t exist. And if we look at the whole population of America, almost 300 million people, there is only one quality we all have equally—we’re all human. We have a human nature and we all have it equally. You either have it or you don’t."After establishing common ground, Steve gently presses the pro-life argument upon his listener:
"Why are sexism and racism wrong? Isn’t it because they pick out surface differences (gender or skin color) and ignore the underlying similarity all of us share? We should treat women, men, African-Americans, and Whites as equals and protect them from discrimination. Why? It’s because they all have a human nature. But if the unborn has that same human nature, shouldn’t we protect her as well?"In short, Steve establishes his reasoning before pressing his conclusion. Absolutely brilliant stuff.
Jill is a good thinker and I'm sure that when she reads Steve's new book Finding Common Ground Without Compromise she'll agree that he has no interest in surrendering principle for friendship. I hope she'll review it soon on her excellent blog.
My trust in Steve is strong. I tell pro-life leaders "to the extent you trust my work trust his." Indeed, if I were unable to make a scheduled debate, I would not hesitate for even one minute to ask him to fill-in. Steve would no doubt be gracious to his opponent, but he'd also be tough as nails intellectually.
Tough minds and tender hearts. That's what we need in the pro-life movement. Steve models both better than anyone I know.