This article originally appeared on The Wall Street Journal on May 3, 2022.
As I sat in my office during the first week of 1990, my assistant informed me that an unexpected caller wanted to speak with me. A week earlier I had an opinion piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch proposing that people on both sides of the abortion debate could work together on issues affecting women and children—without violating their core beliefs. As a start, I proposed support for legislation to aid impoverished women and their children.
B.J. Isaacson-Jones read the piece and wanted to know if I meant it. She was director of Reproductive Health Services, Missouri’s largest abortion clinic. I was a pro-life lawyer. I later learned that she was as nervous about making the call as I was about taking it.
About six months earlier, we had been on the opposite sides of a Supreme Court case, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. The justices were considering a case the clinic had brought challenging a Missouri law I had helped draft, which declared that human life begins at conception. The day after the high court upheld the law, the Post-Dispatch ran side-by-side photos of her and me on its front page as representatives of each side in the debate. The photo made her look as if she were crying, although she was in fact straining to hear a question.
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