A couple of months ago, I wrote about how the initial steps in negotiating are listening and empathy. You don’t have to change your beliefs or convictions when listening to people with opposing views but, until they get the impression that you’re listening to them, they aren’t going to hear a thing you say.

So, in the spirit of listening and empathy, I want to share an observation made by my wife, Becca. It had to do with an affirmation by UUA that included pro-choice and our first principle. Becca observed that if you believe life begins at conception, then our first principle reads, “…the inherent worth and dignity of every human being except an unborn child.” Of course, there are many civic reasons to advocate for pro-choice, even if you believe life begins at conception (like: abortion will happen anyway, so we need to make it safe; abortion when a mother’s life is threatened is self-defense; and abortion by a rape victim is a child killed by the actions of a rapist rather than the response of the victim). However, for pro-choice to be either a formal or informal position for the UUA, there seems to be a conflict with our first principle, or an implied belief that life begins at birth.

But that’s not all. Imagine pro-life advocates are not trying to push their religion on you; rather, they are standing up for the right-to-life of an unborn child. From their beliefs, they are giving voice to a human who does not have a voice. They are protecting a human who is severely disadvantaged through no fault of their own. Sounds more like an advocate of social justice rather than an enemy.

Hopefully, recognizing pro-life advocates as people protecting children will enable a dialogue rather than a shouting match, and may enable supporting a pro-life politician who is otherwise advocating all the other issues we care about (it’s not like we have many choices). And I would like to share another observation made by my wife, “if people are so against abortion, you would think they would be more supportive of access to birth control.” Personally, when I listen to the abortion debate, it sounds like there should be a woman-only vote on the issue. Wouldn’t that be an added twist to women’s suffrage? Men aren’t allowed to vote in an election!

Joe Criscione, President