Over at Via Media, Amy’s started a discussion about dialogue.
1) Who are the parties in the dialogue?
2) Where is this dialogue situated?
Should be an interesting conversation.
To take things a step further, what are the necessary ingredients/principles in dialogue? What does dialogue look like in practice? I’ve made some efforts in the past to grapple with the concept of dialogue on my blog.
I know the term has been seriously sullied by the recent Notre Dame debacle, but it would be good to recover a positive sense of the term. It’s one of the three keynotes of Pope Benedict XVI’s message for World Communications Day 2009, which is coming up on Sunday.
I think there are probably several situations/contexts in which the abortion dialogue needs to take place — maybe several dialogues, even. One of the most important, I think, is the actual experience of the woman in a crisis pregnancy.
I highly recommend an article entitled Abortion: A Failure to Communicate by Paul Swope. It appeared in First Things back in 2002. A snip:
Research suggests that modern American women of childbearing age do not view the abortion issue within the same moral framework as those of us who are pro-life activists. Our message is not being well-received by this audience because we have made the error of assuming that women, especially those facing the trauma of an unplanned pregnancy, will respond to principles we see as self-evident within our own moral framework, and we have presented our arguments accordingly. This is a miscalculation that has fatally handicapped the pro-life cause. While we may not agree with how women currently evaluate this issue, the importance of our mission and the imperative to be effective demand that we listen, that we understand, and that we respond to the actual concerns of women who are most likely to choose abortion.
One consideration left out of this article is the woman’s relationship with the child’s father. It’s especially significant, I think, in a culture already facing an epidemic of fatherlessness. When a woman faces a crisis pregnancy, how is her decision conditioned by the attitudes of the man… particularly if she grew up with a father who was physically or emotionally unavailable? Does she see herself faced, oftentimes, with a decision between keeping her child and keeping a relationship? Pretty gut-wrenching for someone who already has fears and wounds around the issue of male support and availability.