Creating Dialogue on Abortion:
A “Learn at Home” Guide
This guide helps you learn the basic skills of creating dialogue on abortion that can change hearts and saves lives. It will be helpful to anyone wanting to learn JFA’s approach, but especially those who are not able to participate in face-to-face learning experiences with JFA mentors. (For a calendar of JFA events, see the JFA Event Calendar or call 316-683-6426.)
The guide takes about one hour to complete (not including a conversation we’ll encourage you to initiate with a friend). This page includes links to all of the online resources you’ll need to complete the four activities, as well as links to additional resources.
To request that a printed "Learn at Home" packet sent by US Mail, click this link.
Now, let’s get started creating dialogue that can make abortion unthinkable!
1. Immerse yourself in JFA’s Three Essential Skills. (15 minutes)
With another person or by yourself, read the short description ("Analyze") and sample dialogue ("Imitate") in “Activity 1” (pages 9-11 of JFA’s Interactive Guide). This activity will describe listening to understand, asking questions with an open heart, and finding common ground when possible, but it will also get you practicing those skills immediately.
Additional Resources on Listening, Asking Questions, and Finding Common Ground:
2. Prepare a simple case for the value of the unborn. (15 minutes)
Steve Wagner pleaded with pro-choice activists one day to give him “just one minute” to make his case against abortion. One of them took out her watch and said, “Okay, go.” They were taking him literally! Steve had both a great opportunity and great responsibility. What would you say if you were in Steve’s shoes?
For Steve’s one-minute sound bite and an exercise to help you learn it, see his article, “Just a Minute…” Fortunately, you’ll rarely be put on the spot in this way, so memorizing what Steve said in the next minute will mostly be helpful to you as a (1) good road map or sequence to structure your thinking as you discuss abortion, and (2) specific ideas you can share (in pieces) in various parts of your conversations. These ideas will help to keep you from being at a loss.
Additional Resources on Making a Case:
- Complete Activity 3 and Activity 4 in JFA's Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue - The Interactive Guide. See www.jfaweb.org/IG to receive the guide.
- Equal Rights Argument (Newsletter Collection)
- Maureen Condic, "Life: Defining the Beginning by the End" (First Things, 2003)
- JFA's "What Is the Unborn?" page (includes quotations from embryologists and pro-choice philosophers affirming that the unborn is a living, human organism biologically)
3. Learn to respectfully share pictures of the unborn and abortion. (15 minutes)
Pictures of the unborn, both before and after abortion, are essential to helping clarify the facts in a way that words seldom can. To help, we suggest you use JFA’s “Two-Minute Outreach” script to share pages 2-5 of JFA’s Exhibit Brochure (includes graphic material). The script includes a warning before showing pictures of the results of abortion, which is especially helpful in everyday conversation situations. Here's a link to the complete online Brochure, and here's a link to the form to fill out to receive a printed JFA Brochure.
Additional Resources on Sharing Pictures:
- What Is the Unborn? (Video of the unborn in the womb, included on this page, helps us come face to face with the unborn in a way that both startles and amazes us.)
- What Is Abortion? (Still photos and video of the results of abortion, included on this page clarify what abortion is in a way that words never can. Warning: This material is extremely graphic.)
4. Develop a plan for starting the conversation naturally. (15 minutes)
Consider three people you know who are either pro-choice or whose views on abortion you don’t know. Choose the person on the list who you believe will be the most approachable or easiest for you to talk to about abortion. Your goal is to start the conversation with that person in a natural, non-awkward way. We suggest using a direct approach which is up front about how you are purposefully trying to learn something, and you need the person’s help:
“I’m troubled by the fact that good conversations about abortion are rare. It seems to only be hurtful to people. I’ve been working recently on learning to discuss abortion productively. Would you be willing to sit and chat with me for 15 minutes or more and help me out? My commitment to you would be that I will ask questions with an open heart, listen to understand, and find common ground when possible.”
Please adjust the wording to fit your personality! (Find other ideas at the link below.) Once you’ve had a conversation with the person who’s most approachable for you, challenge yourself by engaging one of the others on your list. Don’t forget to use the "Share Your JFA Story" form to let us know how it goes.
Additional Resources on Starting the Conversation:
- Here's another idea for starting the conversation: “I’ve been thinking lately about one of the issues that is toughest for people to talk about without getting heated. I’ve been trying to learn how to discuss it productively. It’s the topic of abortion, and I’m not settled on all of my thoughts about it. Can I share with you some of what I’m thinking about and see what you think?” Adjust the wording to fit your personality.
More Resources and Next Steps (Entry-Level)
- See more on the Three Essential Skills (Step 1 above).
- Get JFA's complete Interactive Guide.
- Attend a JFA Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue seminar. Call 316-683-6426 or see our upcoming calendar.
- See our "Resources" page for many more free resources.
More Resources and Next Steps (Advanced)
- JFA Trainer Certification Assignments
- Each assignment takes 30 minutes to complete
- Variety of topics covered
- Each assignment helps with some aspect of creating life-changing conversations with pro-choice advocates and teaching pro-life advocates to do the same.
- As of July 2015, there are over 140 assignments in the list.