"Resorting to name-calling is counter productive," said Spaulding Balch with National Right to Life. "If I start yelling at them, I've failed before I even started.
"My whole framework is to try to understand what their concerns are and to express my response in such a way that they can understand what I'm understanding. Unless we're listening to each other, we're never going to move this issue forward."
No one knows exactly what "forward" looks like, and neither side will ever completely embrace the other, but there have been positive steps in that direction.
In 2008, the Democratic Party amended their platform to reflect the need to reduce abortions, not simply guarantee the right to one. (see box)
And in May 2009, President Barack Obama stood before the graduating class of one of the nation's most prestigious Catholic universities and called for "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words," when discussing abortion.
"Maybe we won't agree on abortions but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually," he told the students at Notre Dame. "So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions. Let's reduce unintended pregnancies. Let's make adoption more available. Let's provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term."
Echoing the call from his speech, scholars and advocates on both sides gathered at Princeton in October for "A Conference on Life & Choice in the Abortion Debate," which Jacksteit attended and called "astonishing."
"Because it was something that would have never happened in the past," she said.
Jean Reith Schroedel, dean of the School of Politics and Economics at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif. has encouraged such discussions for years, especially since her book, "Is the Fetus a Person? A Comparison of Policies Across 50 States" came out in 2000.
"I argued that we needed to work on finding the common ground," she said. "When we talk about fetal life, let's not talk simply about abortion. Let's talk about the total ramifications."
She mentions reducing prenatal drug exposure and drug use by male partners as well as preventing battering of pregnant women and domestic violence.
"(Because) if we believe that women shouldn't be allowed to have abortions under X number of circumstances, then we as a society have a responsibly to assist her and that child."
That responsibility is what motivates Oberhelman to go to work each day. She knows what it's like to feel terrified, alone and out of options. Her job is to provide love and support to these women, who are often just children themselves.
And while she doesn't believe abortion is the right choice, she understands why some women chose it.
For her, this isn't about labels, politics or rhetoric. This is about helping people.
"If I had talked to a woman, and tried to … help her see that there are options for her, and if she said, 'You don't understand, I have no choice,' and she went ahead and went in (the abortion clinic), when she came out, I would be there for her," Oberhelman said.
"I would want to take her home and take care of her and love her, because I believe that's what God would do."
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