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Having the “Abortion” Conversation: Tips

“God, grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.”

– Admiral Chester Nimitz – 

On the Pro-Life battlefield, there is a major war to be won. But at the end of the day, it is a war that will be won with love, a love that effectively communicates the truth. As Pro-Lifers we always need to be prepared to give a reason as to why we hold fast to our beliefs. More importantly, we always need to be prepared to receive our opposition with an open heart, a heart that can absorb another’s pain and bring about healing. This is the art of communicating truth, the truth about abortion and the truth about the human person. 

The following tips are from a leadership training course developed by Justice for All

3 Essential Skills

  1. Ask Questions with an Open Heart – Gather information, ask for clarification, ask for reasons or evidence, and gently offer a challenge to someone’s argument (once you understand a person’s view).
  2. Listen to Understand – Focus on the ideas being shared instead of focusing on your next response. Such listening builds a foundation of trust and support in the conversation.
  3. Find Common Ground when Possible – In order to make the conversation more enjoyable, and in order to eventually convince someone of your argument, try to find common ground.

One Central Question: What is the unborn?

  • Before we answer the question, “Can I kill this?”, we need to answer, “What is it?”
  • Force pro-choice advocates to give a reason as to why the unborn is not a human being
  • Make sure that your conversation is focused on the question: “What is the unborn?”
  • One of the most helpful tools is “Trot Out a Toddler” – you must first agree with any part of the person’s concern that you can and then apply the person’s concern to a two-year old toddler. Then ask if it is okay to kill the two-year old child for that reason; when the person responds with “no”, ask why the killing of the child is not justified. The key reason is that the child is a human being.

Is the Unborn a Living, Human Organism?

  • It is important to first clarify the scientific facts before any moral reasoning can occur. It is in this clarification that we can show that the unborn is a biological human being.
  • 10-Second Pro-Life Apologist – If the unborn is growing, isn’t it alive? If it has human parents, isn’t it human? Aren’t living humans, or human beings like you and me, are valuable, right?
  • If there is time for a longer conversation, you can make your case in three phases:
    The unborn is living – growth through cellular reproduction, reacting to stimuli, and metabolizing food for energy
    The unborn is human – human parents and DNA fingerprint unique to human species
    The unborn is a whole organism – integrating its body parts for the good of the whole and actively developing itself through the stages of human development.


Is the Unborn Equal to the Rest of Us?

  • If all people outside of the womb deserve equal treatment, then there must be something that everyone of those people has in common. There must be something that everyone possesses that demands us to treat them equally.
  • What is this element? Human nature. If it is our human nature, our humanness, then the unborn should also be treated equally.
  • But what makes up our humanness? This is the Equal Rights Mystery.
  • Equal Rights Argument by Josh Brahm of the Equal Rights Institute

The Difficult Case of Rape

  • Many pro-life advocates, in their zeal for the unborn, appear to not care about women who have been affected by rape.
  • It is crucial to recognize the horror of rape and in order to show how much we care and to have a coherent argument.
  • Our concern for abortion is that it is an act of violence, and so is rape. Therefore, the violence we are advocating against in abortion should also motivate us to be just as concerned about the dignity defiled in rape.
  • The Relational Challenge – When most people ask about rape, they are not concerned with the humanity of the born, but rather the humanity of the pro-lifer speaking with them. He or she is looking to see if we have hearts for women who have been in this situation. Start the conversation with expressing concern for those affected by rape.

Show sympathy

Articulate the extreme horror of rape and the complexity of pregnancy in the situation

Just be normal!

Express your desire for the rapist to be punished to the fullest extent of the law

  • Intellectual Challenge – The pro-choice advocate is also interested in seeing if we think that abortion in the case of rape is right or wrong, and if it should be legal.

For more information on Difficult Cases visit LiveAction

“My Body, My Choice!”

  • Relational Challenge – “Do we care about all of the acts that are uncontroversially violations of a woman’s right to her body (rape, abuse, domestic violence) which are still common in the US and around the world?”
  • Intellectual Challenge – “Women do have a right to do what they want with their bodies, generally speaking. We need to promote a woman’s right to safety from harm. But does that right to her body include the right to remove the unborn by abortion?”
  • Ask a key question: “Do you mean (1) that the unborn is not valuable human being, because it’s a part of her body, or do you mean (2) that even though it is valuable human being, that’s not the issue, because she just has the right to do what she wants with her body?
  • 2 types of Bodily Rights Arguments:

Sovereign Zone – a woman’s body is her sovereign zone and she can do whatever she wants with anything within her body

Right to Refuse – the woman simply can’t be forced to do something with her body (support the unborn) which she doesn’t want to do

Another helpful resource for having the “abortion” conversation is Stephanie Gray’s “Abortion: From Controversy to Civility”