Using the New JFA Website to Create Dialogue

A small team of us at JFA just completely redesigned our website (www.jfaweb.org).  I encourage you to check it out.  The site illustrates how JFA is helping pro-life advocates around the country to create a “different kind of conversation” about abortion.  But don’t stop at simply looking at the site.  Why not use the website itself to create that conversation with people you know?  In this post, I’ll give some specific ways you can share the site with friends.  In each sample dialogue below, you’ll find the exact conversation starter I’d use, followed by one possible response from your friend, and some suggestions for where to take the conversation from there.

Note: To share any page of our website, just send the URL to a friend, or click the “Share on Facebook” link at the bottom of every page.

Find Out What a Friend Thinks about Abortion
Is there a person in your life with whom you’ve never discussed abortion?  You can use the WHAT page of the JFA website to start a conversation about abortion by discussing first whether a reasonable discussion about abortion is even possible.  Here’s a sample dialogue:

  • You: [on the phone, on Facebook, or by email] Check out this webpage from the group Justice For All (http://jfaweb.org/WHAT.html).  They are trying to create a different sort of conversation about abortion.  I’m wondering what you think of their approach.
  • Friend: Well, I like the “third option” idea.  I think there’s way too much hostility on abortion, mostly from pro-life advocates trying to push their beliefs on other people.  Why can’t they just let it go?  They’ve already lost.
  • You: I think I agree with one thing I hear you saying, that when people try to push their beliefs, it’s not helpful.  What do you think of JFA’s “Three Essential Skills?”  
  • Friend: I really like those ideas.  I think if more people used those skills, I think the debate wouldn’t be so annoying.
  • You: Would you be willing to tell me some of what you think about abortion?  I care a lot about the topic, and I’m trying to learn to do what Justice For All is talking about here.  I wonder if we couldn’t make some progress where other people have just angered each other?
  • Friend: Well, I think abortion should be legal.
  • You: Do you think it should be legal through all nine months of pregnancy? [seeking common ground by asking a clarification question]
  • Friend: No way.
  • You: Where in pregnancy would you draw the line?
  • Friend: I’m not sure.
  • [At this point you can continue the conversation by asking about specific abortions, like “Do you think third-trimester abortion should be legal?” or “Do you think abortion should be legal after 20 weeks?”  If you wish, you can continue the dialogue with the following approach that references the second panel on the Justice For All Virtual Exhibit.]
  • You: Why don’t you go to another page of the Justice For All website.  Click on “Media,” and then click on “JFA’s Virtual Exhibit.”  You’ll see a link part-way down the page that says “Click here to see the virtual exhibit.”  It warns that the exhibit is graphic, but the page I’m taking you to is not.
  • Friend: I’m there.  
  • You: Okay, do you see a panel that asks, “Is she/he human?”
  • Friend: Yes.
  • You: Click “next panel.”
  • Friend: Okay.
  • You: Now, you should be looking at pictures of humans throughout development, from before fertilization to the elderly stage.  Where would you draw the line and say that abortions should not be legal after this point?
  • Friend: At 18 weeks.  I’m against late-term abortion.
  • You: I’m curious.  Why do you draw the line at 18 weeks?
  • Etc.

Encourage a Pro-Life Friend to Re-Enter the Dialogue
Some pro-life advocates are silent on abortion because they’ve only seen one type of pro-life advocacy, that which is argumentative, mean, and tells people what to think.  Use the WHAT page on the JFA website as a springboard to discuss the possibility of a better discussion.  Here’s a sample dialogue:

  • You: [on the phone, on Facebook, or by email] Check out this webpage from the group Justice For All (http://jfaweb.org/WHAT.html).  They are trying to create a different sort of conversation about abortion.  I’m wondering what you think of their approach.
  • Friend: Well, as you may know already, I’m really passionate about my pro-life beliefs, but I just don’t have much opportunity to talk about them.
  • You: Are you saying that you’ve tried to bring up the topic, but people aren’t interested?  Or are you saying that it just doesn’t come up very often in everyday conversation?
  • Friend: No, it comes up, but I just don’t want to offend people, so I don’t share my perspective.
  • You: Do you think that the approach that JFA teaches might help?
  • Friend: Asking questions, listening, finding common ground?  Sure.  But I don’t see how I can do that. Abortion is so horrible.  How could anyone believe it could be okay to cut up a little child in his mother’s womb?
  • You: I agree with you that abortion is a horrible thing.  And I understand what you’re saying, that it is hard to see a different perspective.  Can you see the value, though, of trying to understand a pro-choice person’s perspective before trying to change her mind?
  • Friend: Well, it just makes me angry, so that’s why I don’t talk much about this with anyone.
  • You: I appreciate your anger.  It seems to take seriously the fact that unborn children are treated the way they should be.  Why do you think the unborn child should be protected from abortion?
  • Friend: It’s a human being!
  • You: Do you think that the pro-choice person is also a human being?
  • Friend: Sure…oh, I see where you’re going with this.  You think the pro-choice person is a human being, so we should show them respect.  
  • You: That’s right.  And the area that’s toughest sometimes is to show them the respect of listening to their ideas, even if they are detestable to us.  
  • Friend: That makes sense.
  • You: Justice For All mentors have found that in many cases people are not pro-choice because they have thought long and hard about it.  In many cases, their conversation with you is the first time they’ve ever spoken about their position.  It’s a service to them to ask what they believe and why, and then to listen and find common ground when possible…so that we can then challenge their view in a way that will be helpful to them.
  • Friend: That’s really interesting.  I’d like to try it.  How can I learn to do this?
  • You: Well, you can go the Join Us page on the JFA website to attend an Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue seminar and JFA outreach event.  You’ll be paired with a mentor during the seminar who will also be there to encourage you and give you feedback during the outreach!  
  • Friend: That sounds good.
  • You: But you also know more now than most pro-life advocates.  You can have a conversation with a friend using JFA’s “Three Essential Skills” just like I just had with you!  JFA actually is so committed to dialogue that they produced some sample dialogues to help me (and you!) to use their website to create dialogue! 
  • Friend: Where can I find those?
  • You: Stephen Wagner, JFA’s Director of Training, posted these ideas at his blog.  You can find it by going to the Media page.  Then click on “Blogs,” and click on his blog in the list on the left.  Then find the April 16, 2011 post.

Encourage a Pro-Life Friend to Support the JFA Training Program or a JFA Staff Worker
Some pro-life advocates are eager to do something about abortion, but they don’t have time (they work full-time) or they don’t know what activity will actually make a difference.  Starting with the HOME page, give this person a tour of the JFA website and then encourage them to use the DONATE page to help JFA’s Training Program and Mentors.  Here’s a sample dialogue:

  • You: [on the phone, on Facebook, or by email] Check out this webpage from the group Justice For All (http://jfaweb.org/HOME.html).  They are trying to create a different sort of conversation about abortion.  I’m wondering what you think of their approach.
  • Friend: Well, as you may know already, I’m really passionate about my pro-life beliefs, but I just wish there was more I could do to stop abortion.
  • You: I love JFA’s approach.  Their mission is to “train thousands to make abortion unthinkable for millions, one person at a time.”  Look at their WHO page.  They’re so serious about this that they personally assign a mentor to each person that comes through their Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue program.  Each of their mentors has spent many hours in dialogue with pro-choice advocates.  In most cases, hundreds of hours.  You can get to know JFA’s mentors on their Meet the Mentors page.
  • Friend: That looks great.  So, they just teach people to talk about abortion?
  • You: Yep.  Specifically, to have a different kind of conversation about abortion: one that’s civil and productive.  One that can change hearts and minds.  If we can change enough hearts and minds, we can change public opinion.  And that’s necessary if we ever want to see the law change.  Check out their “Three Essential Skills” on the WHAT page.
  • Friend: I have to admit.  I’ve never had a conversation about abortion like that.  
  • You: Would you be interested in joining them for a seminar and outreach sometime?  I support one of their mentors, Fred [add name of specific mentor here] each month, so I’m due to experience JFA’s training first-hand.
  • Friend: I don’t think I can get away from work.  It’s crazy right now.
  • You: Would you have any interest in learning more about how you can support JFA’s training program or one of JFA’s mentors?  That way, you could still make a real difference on abortion.
  • Friend: Sure, that would be great.
  • You: Well, first, you can take a look at their Donate Page.  It gives some information about the hows and whys of donating to JFA.  But I think the best next step would be for me to have Fred [add name of specific mentor here] give you a call.  Would that be okay?  I’d let him know you’re just looking for more information.  You’re not sure about support yet.
  • Friend: Well, actually, I think I’ve seen enough.  It looks like these people are really changing hearts and saving lives.  Look at this picture of Kari on the Donate page.  It really puts things in perspective.  This girl might be dead if JFA hadn’t trained Nicole.
  • You: You’re right!
  • Friend: And knowing you support them gives me confidence in them.  
  • You: Great.  What would be most helpful to you?  Would you like me to have Fred [the specific mentor I support] give you a call?  
  • Friend: Why don’t you just have him send me the details so I know where to send the check…Actually, I think I’d like to setup some sort of automatic gift so I don’t forget.  It looks like it’s easy to do that through this website using this “Give Automatically” link.  I think I’ve got all I need to do this.  What was the name of the mentor you support?
  • You: Fred Smith [Insert actual mentor’s name – See the Mail a Check page for a list].
  • Friend: I’ll just give to his work, then.  Although, I’ll bet JFA’s Training Program needs supporters, too. Have you ever thought about supporting their training program or general fund?
  • You: No, but maybe I should think about that!

So, there are three sample dialogues.  What are you waiting for?  Pick one of these approaches and use the JFA website to create dialogue about abortion with a friend today!

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