8 Ways to Talk to Your Pro-Choice Friends about the Pro-Life Position

January 26, 2009 | 11 comments

My post from yesterday reminded me that I never linked to my latest article at Inside Catholic.

8 Ways to Talk to Your Pro-Choice Friends about the Pro-Life Position

I once said that I’d die to keep abortion legal and easily accessible, and I meant it. I was vehemently pro-choice, as were most of the women in my social circles. We believed abortion was a critical right for women and could not imagine how anyone could be pro-life. [read more]


  1. Amie

    Thanks for writing this. My position on abortion has changed as dramatically as yours over the past 5 years. I was just thinking about this subject this morning. I was taking it in the direction of “if I knew someone who was set on having an abortion, how would I talk to her about it?” I came up with nothing that would change anybody’s mind. I am sure that volunteers at pregnancy crisis centers must receive some training, because I can’t imagine volunteering without it.

  2. JH Straub

    I think this sort of discussion points are very hekpful. I find that most of the pro-death people I come across tend to have a very athiestic/agnostic view on abortion – meaning, if you cannot prove its killing a person, then don’t force your view on me.

    To this, I love to agree, and state that if you cannot know for sure if it is, or isn’t a person, then you cannot support abortion. I then give them the ‘Apple argument’, my version goes something like this:

    Let us assume you are responsible for demolishing a house. As you prepare for this job, you have four possibilities for the safety of the people that may or may not be in the house. These are:

    1) The house is still occupied, and you know that;
    2) The house is still occupied, but you don’t know that;
    3) The house is not occupied, but you don’t know that;
    4) The house is not occupied, and you know that.

    In Case 1, where the house is occupied and you know that, demolishing the house is murder. First-degree murder, in fact. You deliberately kill an innocent human being.

    In Case 2, where the house is occupied and you don’t know that, demolishing the house is manslaughter. It’s like driving over a man-shaped overcoat in the street at night or shooting toxic chemicals into a building that you’re not sure is fully evacuated. You’re not sure there is an innocent person there, but you’re not sure there isn’t either, and it just so happens that there is an innocent person there, and you kill him. You cannot plead ignorance. True, you didn’t know there was a person there, but you didn’t know there wasn’t either, so your act was literally the height of irresponsibility.

    In Case 3, the house is not occupied, but you don’t know that. So the demolition is just as irresponsible as it is in the previous case. You ran over the overcoat o without knowing that there were no persons there. You were lucky; there weren’t. But you didn’t care; you didn’t take care; you were just as irresponsible. You cannot legally be charged with manslaughter, since no man was slaughtered, but you can and should be charged with criminal negligence.

    Only in Case 4 is demolishing the house a reasonable, permissible, and responsible choice. But note: What makes Case 4 permissible is not merely the fact that the house is not occupied but also your knowledge that it is not, your overcoming of skepticism. So skepticism counts not for demolition but against it. Only if you are not a skeptic, only if you are a dogmatist, only if you are 100% certain that there is no person in the building, or no man in the coat, may you demolish or drive.

    Pretty basic stuff, I know, but replace demolishing a house with abortion, the same arguments apply; in fact the four possibilities are:

    The fetus is a person, and we know that – (Murder, you knowing killed someone)

    The fetus is a person, but we don’t know that – (Manslaughter, you killed someone, but were not aware you did)

    The fetus isn’t a person, but we don’t know that – (Criminal Negligence, you may have killed someone, you don’t know)

    The fetus isn’t a person, and we know that – (Only morally acceptable position for supporting abortion)

    Few, if any, have comebacks ot this.

  3. April

    Great article. I also have been on the pro-choice side of this argument until faced with the option to abort a child we thought MIGHT have genetic abnormalities. We were thwarted in an attempt to do an amnio by a debilitating auto accident and in that experience realized the sins of our past thinking and became committed pro-lifers. To me, it was truly the work of God.

    I did want to comment on your first point about the pro-life and cultural tendency to separate sex from the possibility of pregnancy. There is also a strong biological argument to make to those who are not Christians or cannot buy into sex being something “sacred” as you, very rightly, suggest it is. Biologically, it is our imperative to further the species. Sex feels good because it carries the potential for procreation. Even the most secular evolutionist can agree with that.

    And as to when life begins — there is a movie out there somewhere on the internet that was produced by Advent films that asks the simple question — when is a child alive? On the day of his/ her birth? What about the day before that? The day before that? When does life begin if not at the beginning? It is SO simple, but so profound.

    Anyway, those are two more things to discuss with a pro-choice individual. Thanks again for your wonderful and articulate conversations.

  4. Matt

    While I usually try not to use other people’s blogs for shameless plugs, I think this one might be appropriate.

    The Pro-Life Action League has just produced a pro-life handbook called Sharing the Pro-Life Message and you can get a free copy at FreeProlifeHandbook.com.

    It’s got all the facts and figures about abortion and the abortion industry, as well as answers to common pro-choice arguments and a section on how to communicate the message to pro-choice people most effectively.

    Best of all, it’s small enough to fit in your pocket so you can have it at the ready all the time.

    We were handing them out at the March for Life in D.C. and the response was fabulous. We can’t print them fast enough.

    Get your free copy at FreeProlifeHandbook.com.

  5. Deb

    JH Straub
    That is one of the best analogies I have seen. I’ve posted it on my blog along with your comments. Thanks. continuetorejoice.com

  6. Hannah

    Well…I’d be lying if I denied that I maintain my pro-choice position mainly by putting my fingers in my ears and humming loudly whenever arguments like these come up…

    …which is probably a bad thing 🙁

    It’s quite different here in the UK, though. I’ve never heard of anything like a Crisis Pregnancy Centre over here, nor have I ever seen a pro-life demonstration of more than 20 people. Although perhaps I’ve just lived a very sheltered life 😛

  7. Anonymous

    I once had a friend who had an accident the baby died in the womb but wasn’t dispelled. Doctor recommended an abortion to dispell it. Yes she had to go to an abortion clinic because the hospital wouldn’t do it. I’m sorry baby was gone it was now for her health and possibly a chance at another baby.
    In my mother’s day, a miscarriage was considered an abortion and she was so embarrased to have that on her record.
    Also birth control pills can be taken to regulate peiords in needed cases. For a period of a year, I had to take them and it worked long enough to have a child afterwords.
    I believe that abortion is wrong but I don’t want to judge the cases where it is actually needed and perhaps the only thing possible.

  8. Roz

    @JH That’s a wonderfully clear, logical and consistent explanation. Thanks.

    My quick take is often that it’s the mark of a civilized society that the powerful take a concern to protect those who can’t protect themselves. End of story.

  9. Katie

    Great article, Jennifer. The disconnect between sex and the creation of life is really shocking and, I think, plays a huge role in the pro-choice mindset. I was also adamantly pro-choice in the past (even trekking from Indiana to DC to attend the pro-abortion march in 2004). Having a daughter with cerebral palsy (and subsequently coming to the Catholic Church) changed everything and forced me to re-evaluate my beliefs. Now firmly pro-life, it’s almost shocking to me that it wasn’t obvious before. But there’s a lot of denial of what abortion really is on that side of the fence, and I know that I at least was actively discouraged by my fellow pro-choice friends of actually learning about abortion and fetal development.

  10. bowspearer

    2/2 No matter what the circumstances were which brought about the circumstances, the unborn child is always the most innocent of victims.

    Yes that also applies to rape, where even though a woman being in the wrong place at the wrong time with a random attack or being betrayed by someone she trusted so heinously, because ultimately while the woman in those situations had some power and control over the situation even in a preliminary manner, the child literally has no control over any of the situation whatsoever, as even the forces of nature overpower them when they are conceived. That’s not suggesting for one minute that a woman wanted to be raped, or tried to make it happen- just merely pointing out how even more powerless the unborn child is with regards to their conception with regards to a rape pregnancy. In case anyone is wondering, yes I was raped as a teenager so I do know firsthand the ordeal that rape survivors experience.

    Forgetting about the fact that it is child abuse for a minute; purely on the desperation issue, it is the most innocent party in any "desperate" situation, who becomes the scapegoat for it.

    The reason for this is that they have no voice of their own to claim injustice or to cry out in pain, no voice to plead for mercy and no means of escape as their life giving sanctuary becomes their horrific and monstrous deathtrap.

    Yes the situations are desperate and they desperately need addressing by society, but how is any of that the child's fault.

    If as a society, we're truly to believe in human rights, in justice for all, in freedom for all, then that has to include the child- we as a society can't just treat the unborn child like the Nazis treated the Jews (and yes abortion is not just "A" holocaust, but one which makes the Nazi Holocaust look like a schoolyard brawl as the old saying goes).

    If we start condoning abortion because parents are desperate, then where do we draw the line? There's no difference between a parent aborting a child because they were raped and became pregnant and a parent molesting their child because they themselves were molested as a child.

    To claim that it is because the unborn child is somehow "less" than human is to dehumanize the child, which is to psychologically abuse every single child who has been, is and will be butchered through abortion. To anyone who would try and use this justification, ask yourself if you like being a child abuser the next time you make these sorts of claims because making those claims in and of itself IS a form of child abuse, on the scale where tens of millions of children are abused at once.

    Like you said Jen, it all comes down to lies and deception. Now I am not advocating for stoning pro-choicers or the modern day equivalent, just as Christ did not condemn Mary Magdalene.

    However I am saying to pro-choicers, that at some point, the realization that you are engaging in child abuse and child abuse enabling is going to hit you one day, and when it does, you're going to have to ask yourself if you like being a child abuser or a child abuse enabler, and if you can live with continuing to make the same sort of moral choice as serial child beaters and serial pedophiles.

    If the answer is yes and that is what you choose, then at some point, you're going to have to answer for that choice with it being exposed for the cold hard truth of what it is, just as we all will for every single one of our choices.

  11. bowspearer

    This 2 part comment was meant for our "How I became Pro-life" blog article, but here seems just as appropriate. I originally posted this part before but noticed a massive typo, so I deleted it to resubmit it:

    1/2 Here's an interesting one. How many who are pro choice openly oppose traditionally defined child abuse? Yet abortion IS child abuse. The most universal definition of child abuse is the harming of any child by a parent or any other adult, either through negligence or deliberate action.

    Abortion is the murder of a child through physical abuse, thus it is a clear cut case of child abuse.

    Now some claim that the unborn child "isn't a child" or "isn't human"- worse still, call them a "parasite" or a "vampire". Yet this is dehumanization and is a clear cut case of psychologically abusing that child.

    Now some claim that abortion saves a child from a life of child abuse, yet abortion is in and of itself, child abuse. Let's face it, the logic behind that notion is as sound as the logic behind being promiscuous to attain virginity, and is equally nonsensical.

    Now in addition to actually abusing children, there is something which is just as abhorrent- enabling child abuse, which is any action taken by a person to sanction, justify or dismiss an act of child abuse.

    Thus a pro-choice stance is a stance of child abuse enabling, that is when the stance isn't directly guilty of being an act of psychological child abuse in and of itself, through both the dehumanizing of the unborn child and the complete dismissal of the abuse itself (the later also being a recognized form of psychological abuse).

    Now I have no doubt that this will offend some people but really, anyone offended by this is still caught in the very same denial which Jen spoke of. As far as inconvenient truths go, this is one of the bitterest ones there is.

    If the thought of the truth that anyone who has been pro-choice, has chosen to act as a child abuse enabler stings anyone deeply who is pro-choice (and if they regard themselves as good people, it should sting them deeply), then take it for what it is, a chance to reflect deeply on what you've done up until now and a chance to decide if that's what you want for the future.

    As all child abuse is equally abhorrent, as yourself if you'd ever justify raping a baby (which DOES go on in South Africa due to a sick and tragic urban myth about sex with a virgin curing AIDS- the younger the virgin, the more potent the cure according to the myth). The people that do this aren't necessarily those with devious tastes- just desperate to save their mortal lives.

    As you're talking about dismembering the child, the scale of the kind of child abuse which is abortion is no different to the example I've just given- only the type of abuse being perpetrated upon the innocent child. So why do you condemn a baby being raped and yet defend a baby being ripped limb from limb. Because one kind of desperation is acceptable to you and another isn't?

    There's that word again, desperation. How does desperation make another individual less real? If I steal from you because I was desperate, does that make you subhuman and unworthy of human rights? What about if I rape you, torture you or brutally murder you because I was so desperate? How many of us would say that we'd have no problem with having someone else brutalize us to the point where we wished for death to end the ordeal for no justifiable reason simply because we were desperate?

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