“Talking Abortion: A Discussion on Reproductive Rights” was the second in a series of events that I planned and helped coordinate. The first event was “Talking SH!T: a Political Ideology Round Table.” The first event included six panelists from different political ideologies who responded to questions on guns, immigration, income inequality, and the war on terror.
I was a panelist during Talking SH!T and I learned that in the future it is better to not participate and be the chief coordinator. People assumed I was subjective about my decisions since I was also a panelist. I am human, so they are correct. I did try to be as fair as possible. However, democracy is only so effective and there was not time to vote on every detail.
One subject we decided not to discuss was abortion. I and several others did not want to discuss abortion and I personally take no stance on abortion.
Not talking about abortion turned out to be a great thing!
I was approached shortly after Talking SH!T about having an event focused on abortion. I met Timarie who is the President of Students of Life.
It was suggested I contact the Secular Student Alliance to be the other group in the debate. However, it made more since to pair up Students for Life with Voice for Choice. I asked Tiffany [from WILL] who was the president of Voice for Choice.
Within no time, I was then in contact with Imani the Voice for Choice President. Imani was very interested so we set up a meeting and the process began.
Imani, Timaire, Michael [Vice President of Students for Life] and I conducted several meetings to plan the event.
It was stressful during a few points, but an overall great experience. Imani, Timaire and Michael got along great! There was little tension. We tried to split everything up evenly.
Each group had to make compromises along the way since there were obvious ideology differences. However, for the most part there was agreement. One of the first moments of consensus was that Talking Abortion would be a secular discussion. I was pleased we would not make it religious debate since that was one less issue to navigate. Plus, I am planning “Talking Religion” for the fall and “Talking Marriage Equality” after that.
We had about six group meetings. We went with a modified format from Talking SH!T. We agreed on the follow questions: “Should insurance companies, employers, or medical practitioners be required to provide contraception;” “Does health and welfare have an impact on abortion and reproductive rights;” “From a secular perspective when does life begin and at what point should rights be given if at all;” and “Does health and welfare have an impact on abortion and reproductive rights.”
There were several disagreements about the language of the questions and title of the event but we manage to compromise.
The event went well and we had a good turnout. The crowd and panel were civil and we spent a good hour afterwards talking to each other. Talking Abortion is a prime example of two groups that are diametrically opposed coming together to find common solutions.
Sure, we may not have come to any solutions relating to the issues around reproductive rights, but none the less we did come together. Our common goal was simply to civilly discuss. Each group put aside their differences and worked toward a shared goal. While each coordinator faces difference challenges in life and intersectionality surely affects each of the four main coordinators, Imani, Timarie, Michael, and Jason, different we were able to end up at our common objective.
If the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups can plan and conduct a civil discussion then I truly believe any discussion is possible. The first step toward resolving any problem is to recognize it. The next step is to discuss it. I will take the skills attained from this experience and apply them toward the discussions I regularly participate in.
And of course, we will likely revisit “Talking Abortion” and Talking SH!T” next year along with new topics.