The idea behind the interactive webcast program ’Bump’ was to follow three fictitious characters through unplanned pregnancies and invite viewers to debate and try to shape whatever decisions the three women came to about choosing abortion or not. It set out to be provocative, and it did provoke.

Now the web series has come to an end, and producers are encouraging more conversation. What to say…..?

It is certainly a unique cultural moment. From the beginning of the series, I’ve been receiving updates in my inbox regularly as I somehow landed on Yellow Line Studio’s mailing list as no doubt thousands of others have. And to borrow the phrase from Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, I felt intuitive repulsion before thinking about it more, but have thought about it more. Especially when I saw the comments of a few people whose insights I value.

Matthew Archbold sized it up in his usual creatively pointed way, and I agree with much of what he said.

Here’s the thing. Very real abortions are procured for much more fatuous reasons than viewer votes on a game show. To many progressives, abortion just isn’t that big of a deal. And that’s going on in real life, never mind in a reality game show…

Right now, abortion as a cultural conversation is barely a whisper…When someone holds up a sign of a dismembered fetus in front of an abortion clinic people are outraged at the man holding the sign while ignoring the fact that abortionists are actually pulling apart real babies just inside the building. America is experiencing a silent holocaust. And let’s face it, silence only helps the status quo…

I’ll accept just about anything to stop the cultural blackout we have on all things abortion.

Fr. Frank Pavone says pretty much the same thing. He’s generous and open to this new venue for conversation.

“Bump+’s” target audience is not the pro-life community. It is trying to reach the vast number of citizens whose attitude toward abortion can best be described as conflicted. “Bump+” is not a forum for an abortion debate. The point here is to help viewers hear and feel both sides of the issue through stories. This is simply a conversation, not a condoning of abortion. We need to bring people through the conversation through stories. Jesus was a storyteller. You tell a story and let people connect with that…

The big benefit for people in the middle is that “Bump+” helps people get beyond the slogans. Slogans can contain a lot of truth and grace, but they can also shut down thinking. If you can get people beyond slogans, that is a big benefit.

That’s a good point. Slogans can shut down thinking.

On the pro-life side of the coin, we have to make sure that we’re not just articulating arguments, but that we can feel with those who are facing the decision and the temptations that lead one toward abortion. This doesn’t mean that the decision should be anything other than choosing life, but the more we understand them, the better we will be able to help them.

This is exactly what I’ve tried to say for a long time (but not as well or succinctly as Fr. Pavone). In order to engage, we need to both listen and speak, but for so long now we’ve mostly talked past each other. Conversions from the ‘pro-choice’ side to the pro-life have mostly been through traumatic firsthand experiences, which is why Silent No More Awareness Campaign is so effective at changing hearts and minds.

But that takes listening to people who regret participating in abortions, and the general ‘pro-choice’ population likely pay no attention to those people.

That’s why producers decided to make this series. ‘Bump the Show’s website encourages viewers to click on different characters and episodes and

add your voice to any discussion you choose. We’re looking for personal experiences, honest conversation, and compassionate advice for our characters. We’ve heard all the arguments on both sides of the issue. This is a place to share your stories and talk to each other, not at each other.

It’s a new direction and one the young adult generation is starting to take us in, through their eyes. And they see things differently from generations preceding them.

The Yellow Line Studios notice that showed up in my inbox today was intriguing. Here’s some of it:

During a final episode, set to premiere this Monday, March 15, 2010, members of the production team will address the thousands of viewers in sixty-four countries who have tuned in to watch the series. They will be joined by members of that viewing audience who have been an ongoing part of the accompanying discussion on the website. Guests currently scheduled to appear include Sister Mary Agnes Dombroski, a New Hampshire nun whose order operates a group home for abused children and created; and Jennifer Filipowicz, a pro-choice blogger and mother of two known to other fans by the screen name SuperHappyJen.

It also quoted a statement by Yellow Line’s CEO:

“We’ve been attacked and praised by people on both sides of the debate – but when you read the posts from our audience members, it’s impossible to deny that a respectful, compassionate conversation about abortion has begun. That was our only goal, and we hope it continues on the BUMP+ website and elsewhere.”

As Matthew Archbold said, the more shows like Bump the better. Make people confront the realities of abortion.

And if this was one step too far I’m begging them to take two…

Give ‘em their game show. Let’s have it out. In public. Because i know if abortion is talked about, we win.

Hopefully, we all win.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....