5 Principles For Engaging On The Abortion Issue

If you’re like me, your social media pages have been flooded in recent weeks with memes, comments and opinions on the abortion debate.  With a flurry of laws being passed by states on both sides of the issue, abortion has re-entered the public consciousness.  Well-meaning pro-lifers often feel obligated to respond to challenges presented by pro-abortion advocates.  With that in mind, I would like to offer 5 principles for engaging on the abortion issue. 

Do Your Homework

There are many excellent resources to help you make a reasoned case for life.  Scott Klusendorf’s book, The Case For Life, is a good place to start.  Scott’s organization, Life Training Institute, also has amazing content on their website. Other Resources include:

 Francis Beckwith’s Defending Life, A Moral And Legal Case Against Abortion 

 R.C Sproul’s Abortion, A Rational Look At An Emotional Issue

Greg Koukl’s Making Abortion Unthinkable

The recently launched Merely Human Ministries by Jay Watts is also a good place to seek answers. The more knowledgeable you are, the better your case making ability will be.  And the more confidence you have in your case, the less likely you will be to resort to unseemly behavior. 

Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing

Remember, the pro-life position affirms the following syllogism:

  1. It’s wrong to take the life of an innocent human being.
  2. Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being.
  3. Therefore, abortion is wrong.

It’s easy to get sidetracked off this premise.  Make sure you keep this at the center of your conversations. 

Pro-abortion advocates will try to get you off topic.  They will list a series of injustices that you ought to support if you are “Really Pro-Life”.  They will launch personal attacks against you.  Don’t take the bait. If abortion takes the life of an innocent human being, then we are justified in trying to stop the practice.  Stay laser focused on this point. 

Be Kind In Your Interactions

If I were to list every name I had been called by pro-abortion advocates, this post would surpass the point of readability.  I have been called a misogynist, liar, anti-choice, anti-woman, evil, disgusting, and a hypocrite just to name a few.  People have told me they hope my wife and daughter are raped.  As you can imagine, this is not fun.

Tragically, I have seen similar language used on the pro-life side as well.  Hateful attacks leveled at me have not made me reconsider my position one iota.  I will take the time to consider thoughtful challenges, however. 

Think of the last time you changed your mind on a particular issue.  Was it because you were verbally attacked?  Probably not.  I respond well to a respectful dialogue, and I think most people feel the same way.  

I also try to exercise caution in my interactions.  You never know if someone has had an experience with abortion, or how that might be affecting them.   Make sure we are not distracting from our message by our tone or words.  We don’t want our actions to be the reason someone refuses to consider our position. 

Use Science And Logic

It always amazes me that the pro-abortion crowd claims that the pro-life crowd relies on feelings to make our case.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Science tells us that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living and whole human beings.  The science of embryology backs up this claim.  Here is just one quote from a textbook written for medical students:

“Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon development) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”[i]

While I can make a compelling case for life from scripture, I almost never start there.  I have a very high view of scripture.  But unless the objection is based on a specific verse, I will use science and logic to do the heavy lifting for my arguments.  This avoids the common objection that pro-life advocates only hold the views they do because of religion.  

For more information on the science of embryology, check out this excellent article by Tim Barnett of Stand To Reason. 

Pick Your Battles

As with most conversations, I choose my battles wisely.  I have limited time to spend on social media. I’m going to spend my time where I see the greatest opportunity to advance the cause. This doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding conversations with someone that will most likely not change their minds. If there is a large audience I can make my case for, and do so with grace and compassion, I will take the opportunity.  

This is a key point to remember, especially on social media. There is an audience watching.  Modeling a winsome and attractive manor and making a well-reasoned case for life should be our goal.  Sometimes it is the people watching us and our conversations that will catch what we are throwing, not the person we are talking to.  

Do you have any suggestions for people engaging on this issue?  What have you found that makes the biggest impact?  Are there resources we have missed?  Let us know on our discussion page!

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[i]The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology 

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