PPFA

So what is “deep canvassing” and how is Planned Parenthood using it?

By Dave Andrusko

So what would you imagine pro-abortionists believe is “A new way to talk about abortion?” Well, they call it “deep conversation” (or “deep canvassing”).

So how does it work?

Planned Parenthood (who else?) goes door-to-door and strikes up a conversation. The story from Maine Public Radio quotes a PPFA volunteer, Sarah Mahoney, who spots someone on the street and says, “Hey! We’re out canvassing. Would you mind having a conversation with us?” How she segues from that opening to abortion is not explained.

The idea is to keep the conversation going. Makes sense. Mahoney begins by asking what their “baseline” attitude on abortion is from 0 to 10 where 10 “means the interviewee believes anyone should be able to get an abortion for any reason,” according to reporter Patty Wight.

She then probes, getting more specific with each question (e.g., whether the respondent has “known anybody who’s had an abortion, a friend or a family member?”) in order “to better understand her values.” The goal is to have four conversations  with voters in a two-hour span. 

“In the five years that she’s been deep canvassing for Planned Parenthood, Mahoney says, she hasn’t had a single unpleasant conversation. ”

“What we’ve found doing this is that it is an effective way to change minds about abortion,” says Amy Cookson, director of external communications for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Really? In Windham, Maine, if they are willing to talk to a perfect stranger about abortion, wouldn’t you anticipate that people would be courteous? (Wight says Maine has legislation on the books that “protects” abortion, even if Roe v. Wade were overruled.)

So what is the impetus for “deep canvassing”? “Abortion opponents have gained traction in the state in recent years,” Wight reports. Hold that thought.

Joshua Kalla is a political scientist at Yale University. “Kalla has also studied Planned Parenthood’s efforts in Maine and says the group has added something else that’s effective: moral reframing,” Wight writes. “Canvassers listen for the moral values a voter emphasizes and then incorporate those values into the story they share.”

If you just read this story, you would think that a little push here, a gentle shove there, and people find suddenly discover their inner pro-abortion self. They’re all 10s (or at least a 7)!

But “deep canvassing is not exclusively a progressive tactic, Kalla says. Conservative groups can use it, too.”

Of course. Listening sympathetically opens doors. Finding “common ground” is easier than you might think when your answer to the abortion question is finding a win-win solution for both mother and unborn child.

Mahoney says what she “wants most from these conversations is for people to think more deeply about the nuances around abortion.” I assume she said this with a straight face. 

For people “to think more deeply about the nuances around abortion” is the last thing a representative of an organization that aborts more than 300,000 babies a year would want.

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