From abortion activist to bridge person. Questions to break out of intractable polarization. Wisdom beyond the news cycle. “What is it in your own position that gives you trouble? What is it in the position of the other that you are attracted to?”
The focus of our national fight over abortion may change, but this hasn’t changed for decades: we collapse this most intimate and complex of human dilemmas to two sides. We’ve been looking yet again for wisdom away from the turbulent news cycle and keep returning to this conversation Krista had with Frances Kissling. She is a “bridge person” in the abortion debate: a long-time pro-choice activist who has sought to come into relationship with her political opposites. Now she’s controversial on both sides, but speaks from a place that many of us would like to map out between the poles. She has experienced something more powerful, as she tells it, than defining common ground — and this has lessons for other issues in our common life and our struggles with people with whom we disagree the most.
Frances Kissling is president of the Center for Health, Ethics and Social Policy. She was the president of Catholics for Choice from 1982 until 2007.
This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode “Frances Kissling — What Is Good in the Position of the Other.” Find more at onbeing.org.