“Justice for All” display sparks abortion conversation on campus
The day after the pro-life group Justice for All set up a display of graphic abortion pictures on the campus of Oklahoma State University, Temitope Akande, a student columnist for the university’s newspaper, wrote a fascinating account of his experience talking with a JFA representative, Jonathan Wagner, who is identified in the column as “John” .
Akande says at the outset that he walked up to the pro-lifers “ready to challenge them for their ignorance and insensitivity in displaying gruesome pictures of aborted fetuses.” But after talking with Jon for over an hour, Akande said, “I came away feeling much different.”
Akande didn’t have an on-the-spot conversion after seeing his experience. He’s not yet ready to call himself “pro-life,” but also admits that he can no longer accurately describe himself as “pro-choice” either. By all accounts, though, one would have to conclude that he’s well on his way to becoming pro-life, especially after reading these words:
Finally, is it silly and a little hypocritical that a lot [of] us are mad at the gruesome graphic photographs of aborted fetus[es] being displayed on campus, but we are not equally appalled by the act that led to those photos?
With such a strong indictment of the “shooting the messenger” approach that those of us who display graphic abortion pictures so often hear, it’s no wonder Akande can no longer call himself “pro-choice.”
In a Conversation about Abortion, Remember What Your Goal Is
Eric Scheidler has talked in two recent posts about the need for pro-lifers to be diplomats for the cause, and to always keep in mind when we’re talking with people who are pro-choice that our goal isn’t to “score points” but rather to try to convince them to agree with us about the value of life in the womb. We can’t hope to do that if we don’t meet them where they’re at, treat them with respect, and listen to them.
Clearly, Jon—JFA’s representative—knows how to conduct himself as a pro-life diplomat. The fact that Akande believed that Jon, et al., were guilty of “ignorance and insensitivity” at the outset of their conversation, but had a very different perspective an hour later is a testament to this.
As a result, Akande wrote a column about how he has now begun to rethink the issue of abortion. Surely, his column will be read by many people who are “pro-choice,” and perhaps they will begin to honestly reassess their own perspective on abortion in light of his unexpectedly positive interaction with a pro-lifer.
Things Could Have Turned Out Very Differently
Now, imagine that instead of being an effective pro-life diplomat, Jon conducted himself as a sanctimonious jerk who was completely uninterested in anything resembling respectful dialogue. In so doing, he likely would have confirmed most every pre-conceived notion Akande had about pro-lifers.
Akande still would have written a column about his experience talking with Jon, but it would have been a very different column. And we can be relatively certain that Akande wouldn’t have talked about how he is now beginning to rethink the issue of abortion—and just as surely, neither would any of his pro-choice readers.