For decades, abortion has remained among the most volatile ethical and public policy debates in western society. This polarization is rooted in large part in the complexity of the issue itself, but it is also spurred on by uncompromising rhetoric on both sides. Thus, for example, prolifers disparage the prochoice position as “baby murder” while the prochoicers respond by invoking the specter of the dreaded coathanger.
It’s been said that truth is the first casualty of war and that’s as true in a rhetorical war as in any other. And with the wartorn landscape of abortion debate, blitzkrieg seems to be the most commonly preferred means of engagement.
So here’s my proposal: whatever your view on abortion, commit to steelmanning the other side. That is, attempt to give the most rigorous, detailed, nuanced, and persuasive case for the very position you so adamantly reject. And then see what happens. Who knows? You may end up changing your view. Conversely, you may become much more effective at arguing your case to your opponent. But one thing is clear: you will change the conversation.