I was recently reading an orthodox Catholic publication, and a writer (a pro-lifer) was advocating the need for more “dialogue” in the national abortion debate. She argued that the two sides had become calcified in their positions, but if they would just dialogue, then perhaps progress would be made. Although this argument is a common one made in many political debates today – immigration, the role of government, etc. – it is not exactly defined what this “dialogue” should entail. But the assumption seems to be that if people were not so rigid in their position, then compromise can occur and the problem will be solved.
Is this really the case with abortion? Should we “dialogue” with those who are pro-abortion? It depends on what you mean by dialogue.
- If it means discussing the issue with those on the other side in a respectful manner, then absolutely. We believe every person is made in the image and likeness of God and therefore deserves respect. Although someone might be horribly wrong in their beliefs, we still must respect them as persons, even if we don’t respect their viewpoint.
- If it means that we engage in vigorous debates with pro-abortion forces, then absolutely. We should never be afraid to confront evil and we should be willing to stand for truth in every situation.
- If it means that we compromise our beliefs in order to “end” the debate, then absolutely not. There are certain “non-negotiables” in the Catholic Faith, and the evil of every abortion is one of them.
For example, the common refrain we hear from pro-abortion advocates is that pro-lifers, if they are really against abortion, should support comprehensive sex education and contraceptive use. Not only is this contrary to the moral teachings of the Church, it has proven to be a disaster and to increase abortions. Such a “compromise” is essentially a capitulation.
The fact remains that our goal is to make all abortions prohibited by law and unaccepted by society. When the campaigns to stop cigarette smoking or drunk driving were in full swing, their advocates did not “dialogue” with those who opposed them. They relentlessly continued to march forward, knowing that success only comes to those who persevere.
As always, we should take Jesus as our model. He did not “dialogue” with those who adamantly opposed God’s will (see Matthew 23). But he did lovingly discuss the ways of God with those who were not living moral lives and were willing to see the light (see John 4). We should do likewise.