The August homework assignment was to talk to a stranger about the Planned Parenthood videos. I initiated some conversations. Please tell me how you think I did in the comment section below. And please share your own homework stories.
My first encounter was with the man sitting next to me on an airplane flight. For the first hour I was absorbed in my book, a novel. (Total escapism, I confess—but, hey, it was August!)
Then I remembered the homework assignment, and when my seatmate passed me a cup of ice, I struck up a conversation.
He was a real estate developer. He was proud that he and his three best friends—who all went to college together at Claremont—were still friends. Two of the group he described as center-right, and two as center-left. This is a rare achievement, and betokens a thoughtful man.
I didn’t know if he was center-right or center-left, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I told him I write a column on public policy for the Human Life Review.
To my surprise, he didn’t ask what that was. He heard the word “life,” and he got it. And then he began almost apologizing for never talking about “those issues”!
He’s in business, and he has to work with all kinds of people, he explained, and he learned long ago that nobody’s mind is ever changed by having an argument. So he stays away from “those issues.”
I could tell he agreed with the pro-life position. We began what turned out to be a far-ranging conversation—and I never got around to asking him if he had seen the videos. But I was gratified to realize the pro-life movement has secret sympathizers out there.
Since I never mentioned the word Planned Parenthood, I think I deserve only a C for that effort.
My second attempt was more fraught with danger. It was with somebody I actually will see again, and a businesswoman to boot. Women readers can appreciate the risk here: She was my hairdresser, and could have ruined me for four weeks if she got mad!
We had been having leisurely chats about Hurricane Erika, chickens in backyards, and the like. I realized she was nearing the end of my haircut. I had to make my move soon. Nothing to lose, I told myself. If this goes wrong, there are other beauty shops.
“Have you seen those Planned Parenthood videos?” I asked straight out.
“Oh yeah,” she responded thoughtfully. “Well, I’ve read things about them, you know, on the internet, I haven’t actually seen them.”
A perfect opening.
“You should have a look. It’s unbelievable. The doctor—or somebody—taps the baby’s chest and the heart starts beating.”
“You mean it was—it was—all in one piece?”
“Yes, all in one piece. So he taps the chest, and the heart starts beating, and then a gal working there is told to get the brain out.”
“She was told to cut through the face to cut open the skull and remove the brain.”
The woman was speechless. She may have shuddered. I let it sink in. Then I made one more point.
“I just don’t see why Planned Parenthood gets so much government money.”
I could tell that was a new idea to her. She didn’t say anything, just silently nodded. And my haircut was over.
I made the linkage between Planned Parenthood and federal funding. So: Do I get an A?
Later, I had another conversation with a young woman who had heard about the videos and, assuming they were filled with bloody images of baby body parts, was determined never to look at them.
“I’m already pro-life, I don’t need to see gross stuff!” she said emphatically. She seemed surprised when I explained that the actual videos featured mostly interviews—just talking heads.
This was an epiphany to me. I felt bad because I realized I hadn’t made that clear when I spoke with my hairdresser. My lack of precision may prevent her from ever watching the actual videos.
So here’s the September homework: Continue striking up conversations with anybody. Mention Planned Parenthood, and make the link to federal tax monies.
And, in the course of your conversations, make it clear that the videos themselves are not primarily gory, but full of new and damning information.
Now, in a comment box below, please tell about the conversations you’ve been having!
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Connie Marshner is a commentator and researcher on life and family issues in the Washington, D.C., area.