Jan. 22 marked 50 years since the Supreme Court handed down its landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. At a stroke, the justices invalidated state abortion bans and legalized the procedure nationwide. Then last June 24, the high court overturned Roe through its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The antiabortion movement’s multigenerational campaign will be studied by political scientists and historians for decades to come. As a communication scholar, though, I wonder about a problem called “rhetorical incommensurability.” That is, what can be done when the two sides of the abortion debate use rhetorics that have mutually exclusive meanings? After half a century, is our political discourse polarized beyond repair?

Rather than concede, I believe a path forward is suggested by the study of intercultural communication. There the problem is: How do two people communicate when they each have fundamentally different assumptions about what things mean?

The solution begins when at least one person sets aside her assumptions and tries to understand things from the other’s point of view. To that end, let me speak to those who describe themselves as “pro-life.”

Think first of how you felt, or would have felt, in 1973 when Roe suddenly preempted state abortion laws. Can you admit that those who describe themselves as “pro-choice” now feel the same way? That they’re dismayed by a judicial ruling that overnight erased what they previously regarded as a constitutional right?

And there is another reason for the anger of your opponents. In 2016, more than 80% of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. Many of you were persuaded by the Republican presidential candidate’s pledge to nominate “pro-life” justices to the Supreme Court. When the votes were counted, you got your wish. Then you got three new high court appointments that secured the majority for the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe.

But can you understand how others see the political calculation you made as a “deal with the devil”? Yes, you got your Supreme Court justices. You struck down Roe. Yet putting Donald Trump in power came at the cost of unleashing a spreading cancer that threatens American democracy.

Then, too, look in a mirror. You yourself have changed. That’s also a cost of the political calculation you made. You can no longer proclaim, as you once did, that personal morality matters in public servants. You made common cause with a morally corrupt, anti-democratic leader. You associated your name with the politics of division and white resentment.

Can you understand how others might see you as hypocritical? How this might turn people off to your gospel witness? You believe that you’ve saved unborn lives. But according to your theology, have you also cost those, who now reject the credibility of your gospel message, their chance at life?

Making a political calculation to achieve a goal brings not only potential rewards; it also carries potential risks. In 2016 you supported a political unknown for the presidency. You were aware of his moral flaws. You knew in your heart that backing him risked tarnishing your Christian reputation. But you took the risk in view of the potential reward.

With Dobbs, you reaped your reward. But you must also acknowledge the consequences of the risks you assumed. Doing so, however, may help you see things from the viewpoint of your opponents – their dismay at what they regard as “judicial activism,” their fright at the anti-democratic movement you helped unleash, their cynicism at Christians who stoke division in the name of Jesus and who cheer a hateful authoritarian when it serves your political interests.

Yet if you honestly recognize these consequences of your political calculation, then it may be possible to see your opponents’ point of view and take a first step toward dialogue. A good start is finding common ground to address structural conditions that put women at risk and providing the support they need.

Mark Ward Sr. is a professor of communication at the University of Houston-Victoria and author of “Introduction to Public Speaking: An Inductive Approach.” He may be reached at wardm@uhv.edu.