An Introduction to Defending the Unborn with Respect, in Love
The purpose of this essay is to provide you with some lines of defense you may need concerning the issue of abortion when you encounter people who take either the "ProChoice" view or are uncommitted.
This is not an exhaustive lesson on how to defend the ProLife view; it is an introduction. Moreover, what you should not expect here is advise on how to shout or threaten or name-call. There is enough of that already. This is an introduction on how to argue in the true sense of the word—by attempting to prove something by reasoning—and how to argue with integrity, in love.
It can be very uncomfortable being put in a position of confrontation concerning a subject we know is right but we don’t know much about. For example, some of us, when we see the cult members walking down the street towards our house, quickly get ourselves inside the house, turn down the music or TV, and presto! no one is home. "I really don’t have time to talk to them," "They never listen anyway," "I don’t really feel comfortable confronting them at the moment."
Maybe those who have different positions on different issues don’t listen well; maybe it is uncomfortable; maybe they will think you to be mindless.
But possibly they would have listened if you had made the time; maybe that was worth the sacrifice of appearing foolish. They may have appreciated your insight and respect. Maybe you were meant to help change their life.
Tired of being caught in situations where you wish you had just been better prepared? Want some tips on how to control an uncomfortable situation? Let’s look at some helpful ideas on how to defend the unborn with confidence, and in love...
Types of Defense
The following are two of the fundamental categories of defense: emotional and intellectual. Let’s look at these...
Appealing to emotion is a common mode of trying to bring people over to a certain ideology or set of beliefs. For example, some Christians use this method of sharing their faith when they conjure up pictures of hell or when they use personal testimony to show others how their own lives have been changed. In the ProLife movement, there are those who use similar tactics when they display pictures of aborted fetuses or use their personal testimony as they convey to their audience how an abortion has changed their lives. It can be a very effective way of moving people into rethinking their positions on various issues. But there is a downside here: The opposition can use it, too.
For example, one who is ProAbortion can show pictures of women who were involved in illegal abortions or who tried it themselves—the proverbial "back-alley abortions." They can also hit with a personal testimony about how "back-alley" abortions have tragically prevented them from having children or have permanently ruined them in some other physical or emotional way.
You see, the problem with appealing to emotions is that it becomes a battle with the winner being the one who has the most graphic picture or the most heart-wrenching experience. The emotions may be perfectly valid, but what we should desire is to discover the truth, and pure emotion, by itself, cannot provide that. On the other hand, there is the "intellectual" approach?
Let’s first dispel the myth that one must be an intellectual in order to use intellect. One need not have a Ph.D. to use logic and reason. People from all walks of life, from dockworkers to doctors, can introduce a reasonable, logical argument to support their view, if it is the truth.
Now to continue here with the example previously mentioned, there are Christians who, rather than use an emotional appeal, will defend their faith by engaging in dialogue with their opponents, taking careful pains to present a sound and consistent argument. They do not rely on pictures of hell or personal testimony; their appeal is to the mind. As to the abortion issue, there are ProLife advocates who prefer to "reason it out," to examine the issue on the validity of the arguments.
Like the emotional appeal, our opponents can use reason, as well. But here they are encouraged to use the same approach. Here it is a plus for all involved. Why?
Because the truth is the truth, no matter who is arguing. And if the truth is that the fetus is a human being with a right to life, then an argument which seeks to find truth through logic and reason will prove that. You need fear nothing. (Of course, this all assumes that our opponent has a sincere desire to discover the truth of the issue, that he or she is not blinded by emotions or pride or past. This is a colossal assumption considering the emotionally charged issue that abortion is.)
Now after all this, it is important to remember that you should use whatever combination of methods, emotional and/or intellectual, is appropriate under the circumstances. Take into account whom you are talking to, and where that person is coming from. (This is a perfect time to ask for the Lord’s direction in your conversation so that you may both give Him glory and be used to change the heart of a human being.) But whatever the circumstance you find yourself in, and whomever you happen to be talking to, be assured that adding an "intellectual" side to your arsenal will make you an even more effective defender of the Unborn.
Before looking at some simple defense tactics, let’s see how we can provide a suitable environment for a healthy, productive argument…
1. Attack the argument, not your opponent. One of the basic rules of discussion is to avoid the "ad hominem" attack—that is, attacking one’s personality or character. Their character is not the issue, the nature of the fetus is. "You wouldn’t understand because you’re not a Christian," or "You probably voted for that liberal so-and-so," is skirting the issue, and it’s unfair. Moreover, by being careful not to attack your opponent, those observing your argument will see that you stick to the issue at hand and do not resort to derogatory remarks. Leave personal attacks to them.
2. Try putting your opponents on the defense by questioning them. Force them to think about their own positions with statements like...
"But if it’s not of the human species, what species is it?"
"So what you’re saying is that someone’s financial well-being should decide whether another will live or not?"
"Are you saying that an individual’s size defines what it is?"
"So you are ProChoice all the way through to the ninth month?"
A questioning attitude like this, devoid of sarcasm, will help them to clarify their position to you, and will concisely expose the fallacy in their argument. Maybe they will actually see for the first time their illogic.
3. Don’t get side-tracked. Stick to a particular part of the issue. Even if you have a good argument for the side-tracked point they just brought up, let it be until another time. "You know, that’s an interesting point you just brought up, but let’s finish the one we’re on first." C. S. Lewis wrote that an argument is like driving sheep down a road. If they see an open gate to the right or to the left, they go through it. A good shepherd, in order to drive the sheep home, closes the gates. Be a good shepherd.
4. Don’t get too emotional. This gets the blood pressure up and the argument quickly degrades into shouting or personal attacks. On the other hand...
5. Don’t be too unemotional. Remember Michael Dukakis in the presidential debates in which he was asked what he would do if he came home to find his wife had just been raped? His answer was so lacking in emotion that some wondered if he cared at all about his wife. Show people you are mature enough not to resort to childish name-calling but at the same time you are passionate for the lives of the unborn.
A Basic Argument
Now let’s look at a basic argument. There are more but they almost always come back to this:
ProLife people say abortion is murder. Murder is evil and should be stopped. Therefore, abortion is evil and should be stopped.
The most potentially explosive word here is "murder." Is abortion murder? Let’s define "murder," and then see if abortion falls under its definition.
Murder is the intentional killing of an innocent human being.
• Is abortion intentional?
No doubt. The mother purposely goes to an abortion clinic for an abortion. The abortionist purposely commits the abortion and even takes money for it. It is intentional.
• Is abortion a killing?
Yes. Once there was something alive. The abortion is an act which "terminates" that life. Something forcibly put to death is "killed." The embryo or fetus was killed.
• Is abortion killing something innocent?
Yes, it is. The fetus is not armed. It’s purpose is not to kill the mother, like certain parasites. The fetus is probably unaware of what it is, where it is, or what it is doing. In 99+% of all pregnancies the fetus is not any threat to the life of the mother. The fetus is innocent.
• Is the fetus a human being?
Herein lies the crux of the whole issue, because if the fetus is a human then the criteria are fulfilled—abortion is murder. If the fetus is not human, then abortion is not murder, and ProLife people can sleep better.
Following are some ProAbortion arguments against the fetus being a human and some ProLife responses:
Some ProAbortion Arguments & Short Responses to Them
Some will say the fetus is not human because it…
• is too small.
Size does not define humanness. A big person is not more human than a small person.
• is not fully developed.
Infants aren’t fully developed, either. They are, nevertheless, human.
• can’t breathe on its own.
Adults on artificial respirators can’t, either.
• is only a mass of tissue and blood.
This betrays a total ignorance of human development inside the womb. By becoming acquainted with the simple facts of development you can easily erase any myth that reduces the fetus to the status of uncooked hamburger. (Note: The Little Feet pins are a great tool here.)
• is inside the womb.
Location does not define what something is. That just tells us where it is. We want to know what it is.
• is not perfect.
Perfect by whose standards? This argument is close to the eugenic, Nazi-like worldview in which only the perfect ones are allowed to live. It has nothing to do with humanness.
• doesn’t look human.
Appearance does not define humanness. A statue looks human; it is not.
• is dependent on the mother.
Dependence on anything does not make one non-human. We are all dependent on something. "Independence" is a complete myth and certainly no definition of humanness.
• is not viable.
That is a situational definition at best. An unborn child near a hospital is viable. An unborn child out in the country somewhere is not. Is the one near the hospital more human? This definition of humanness depends on the situation and location. It is bogus.
• is part of the woman’s body.
The fetus is in the woman’s body, but not part of it. It is a separate entity with its own organs, its own central nervous system, and most damaging to this highly emotional claim, its own genetic code. It is not like a finger or an eye or an appendix.
There are several more arguments put forth by ProAbortion people against the fetus being human, none of which are legitimate. One can always show that the embryo-fetus is alive, growing, developing, highly organized, and controlled physically by its own unique human DNA. It is a human being.
And since it is a human being, abortion is murder.
And since abortion is murder, it’s time to stop the killing.
A typical abortion argument is more complex than this, but it always comes down to this: What is the fetus? Be proficient at defending this aspect of the ProLife argument and you’re on your way to success in saving lives. But remember these:
• Even when presented with the most beautiful of arguments, many people will need time to adjust. Few people, when their arguments have been torn down, will say, "Well, well. I guess you’re right. Where do I sign up?" Give them time to consider all that you have shared with them. But don’t let them off the hook. Confront them in love soon afterward. And remember that there are some who even after all is said and done will say, "I don’t care about any of your arguments. I’m ProChoice and nothing is going to change my mind." Tragically, this attitude tells volumes about the state of their heart. If confronted with the truth by Jesus Himself, this person may reject even Him.
• Don’t condemn them for having been ProAbortion and/or for having had an abortion. Your job is not to condemn or even convict. That’s the Lord’s work. You are to present the truth, in love. Furthermore, besides arguing with the heart of Jesus, our job includes informing them that we have a loving God willing to forgive them their advocacy of murder, or even the murder they may have been involved in. Many people who are ProAbortion are that way because they need to justify an abortion they were previously involved in. It is imperative you remember that when you are presenting your side. Many women who have had an abortion need to hear that the enormous burden of guilt they are carrying because they took the life of their own child can be lifted off. When you feel so led, share with them the good news of Forgiveness and Mercy.
Finally, we believe the most important position you can take on abortion is on your knees. Pray for courage, pray for the ones you are to talk to, pray for our leaders. Changing hearts should be our main objective. Let’s strive for a country which doesn’t want abortion, whether it’s legal or not.