It’s not that I’m pro-abortion,” she told me. “It’s that I’m pro-choice.” In carefully chosen words, my friend who was a pro-choice activist told me she, too, thought abortion was often a terrible tragedy. That it was often a devastating, heartbreaking experience for a woman who felt pressed to make that decision. It was lamentable and sad, but she felt women needed the option to be able to make that choice legally.
While I don’t agree with her conclusions about abortion, my friend and I were able to find common ground in her underlying motivation: It was clear to me that she was primarily driven by compassion for women facing extremely difficult circumstances. I believe Jesus is compassionate toward them too.
Far too often the cultural conversation around abortion is reduced to a battle of caricatures. The pro-life side is frequently portrayed as angry religious extremists who are out of touch with culture and fundamentally anti-woman. Meanwhile the pro-choice side is often depicted as heartless feminist zealots who are anti-God and pro-murder.
Rather than imagining we are battling monsters, our pro-life cause will be best heard when we can meet those on the other side where they really are. Yes, indeed there are those who speak callously about destroyed human embryos or who are haughtily dismissive of data about fetal pain or beating hearts. But for the most part, many who are pro-choice have motivations that we can—at least in part—share:1