Articulating The Pro-life Case
Articulating The Pro-life Case
Written By Chris Iverson   |   12.06.16

A few years back, I went door to door handing out pro-life DVD’s and engaging in discussions about abortion.  It was quite the experience!  I noticed many people didn’t understand the term “pro-life.”  Eventually, I learned I had to use the word “abortion” or my message would not be understood by people who were not informed on the subject.  It was a lesson on the importance of clarity.

When we convey a message about abortion, it’s important for the pro-life case to be clear in our minds.  Clarity helps us be persuasive. Clarity also helps us to cut through the fog of confusion often left by those who lobby for abortion.  This abortion lobby doesn’t need social or legal change since the law currently favors them.  The abortion lobby knows that people avoid change when the topic is confusing.  To prevent change, the abortion lobby doesn’t need to prove abortion is a moral good, they only need to leave the impression that the subject is complicated and confusing.  It’s up to us to cut through the fog of confusion.  It’s up to us to simplify the message.  It’s up to us to knock down erroneous pro-choice objections.  The fact is, the abortion debate is not complex.  It’s simple. We just need to articulate it in a clear and winsome manner.

I’ve debated abortion hundreds of times with pro-choice people.  For pro-lifers to be clear and persuasive, we need to appeal to shared values.  We need to show that the pro-choice position institutionalizes in the law a framework that comes from an unreasonable and disturbing basis.  We should avoid getting into the topic of the proper relationship of church and state or the relationship between morality and law.  Those topics make it more complicated and we want to make it simple and clear.  Here’s a great way to do that:

Adopt Clear Definitions:

A.) Pro-life – The view that abortion should be not be legal in all or most cases.

B.) Pro-choice – The view that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

When people discuss abortion, they may talk about the law, their moral view, their religious view or whether or not they personally would get an abortion.  It’s important to keep in mind that someone can be against abortion from a moral, religious and personal perspective, but still prefer that abortion is legal.  That person is not pro-life.  If they want abortion to be legal, they are pro-choice, regardless of their moral, religious or personal reservations.

This clear and simple definition is helpful.  For example, some claim they are pro-life and pro-choice at the same time.  That’s not possible because you cannot want abortion to be legal and illegal at the same time.  A common response on abortion from pro-choice politicians is “I am personally pro-life, but I also believe in a woman’s right to choose.”  That’s a classic case of double-talk, but it’s also a pro-choice position. They cannot be pro-life unless they want abortion to be illegal.

Clarify The Pro-life Case:

A.) The unjustified taking of human life should always be illegal

B.) Abortion is the unjustified taking of human life

C.) Abortion should be illegal

This case for life is based on the scientific fact that human life starts at fertilization and the idea that all governments are obligated to protect basic human rights for all humans within their jurisdiction.

Pinpoint The Pro-choicer’s Mistake:

There is a particular approach that we can use to clarify the views of a pro-choice person.  Ask the pro-choice person if financial, relationship or lifestyle challenges are justifications for taking the life of a newborn? Of course, the answer will be no for the vast majority of people. You can follow up by saying that if those challenges don’t justify taking the life of a newborn, then those challenges don’t justify taking the life of that same human, just months earlier.  The pro-choice person’s response to this statement usually brings the real issue to the forefront.

Some people are pro-choice because they are not aware that human life starts at fertilization. Some people are pro-choice because of strained technical arguments about bodily autonomy or absurd narratives about pro-life people hating women. However, the real reason why many people are pro-choice is that they believe in unequal rights. They have a personal bias against one group of humans (the unborn) and they want to institutionalize that bias by keeping abortion legal. Once the real issue comes to the forefront, you can show that the pro-choice position comes from an unreasonable or disturbing basis. The unreasonable or disturbing basis may be a rejection of science, an unreasonable bodily autonomy argument, a false narrative or discrimination against the unborn. The pro-choice position can be exposed when we have clear definitions, a clear argument and an approach that brings the real issue to the forefront.

Sorry fearmongers, you don’t have a chance of winning: perfect love casts out fear.


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Chris Iverson
Chris Iverson assists pro-life leaders to strategize, organize and mobilize for effective advocacy. In 2016, Chris led the effort in the Chicago area to reach 8.8 million views of the message “Abortion Takes Human Life.” He began his pro-life work in 2004. He has organized pro-life overpasses, pro-life billboards, sidewalk counselling and a variety of protest events.  He has been interviewed for radio, television and print news. Chris was a pro-choice atheist until the age of 20 when, after discussing the topic of abortion with a friend, he became a pro-life atheist.  Later, Chris became an evangelical Christian.  These experiences...
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