Imagine that you’re out to lunch with friends, or eating dinner with some relatives, and the subject of abortion comes up. One of your dining companions passionately asserts that no one should limit a woman’s access to abortion. Would you know how to respond?
It can be a scary moment. You want to share your pro-life perspective, but abortion remains one of the most politically divisive topics in the country. You know this type of conversation could lead to a heated argument possibly damaging an otherwise strong relationship.
Our nation’s political climate can make it intimidating or downright terrifying to engage in a meaningful, respectful and fact-based conversation with a friend or relative who is pro-abortion. But with the right tools, sharing the truth about preborn life is definitely possible. Here are some helpful ideas for sharing your pro-life perspective:
Questions that offer empathy
Instead of rushing headlong into a debate, try responding to pro-abortion arguments with a question. That’s the advice of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who has become a vocal pro-life advocate. As someone who has been on both sides of the issue, Johnson has proven insights on how to converse with someone who is pro-abortion.
“When you look through Scripture and the apostles would ask Jesus a question, He would respond with a question,” Johnson says. “It had to be super annoying to them at the time. But it is a good lesson for all of us.”
Some of the questions that Johnson suggests include:
- Why do you support abortion?
- Why do you support Planned Parenthood?
- Do you have a personal story; is it something you can share with me?
These questions are designed to find out why your family member or friend supports abortion, which is a critical component to help guide your conversation. Abortion is a deeply delicate and even painful issue, and often the reason that people support abortion is because of their own experience or the experience of someone close to them.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly one in four women will have an abortion by age 45. Sadly, the church is not exempt from that statistic. Over 40% of women who’ve had an abortion say they were frequent churchgoers at the time they ended their pregnancies, a study by LifeWay Research shows.
When we talk about abortion, we need to make sure we recognize the complicated emotional and relational situations that often lead a woman to have an abortion. Some women who’ve had an abortion were in the midst of an abusive relationship; others felt pressure from their partners or families; and some were in school and didn’t feel as though they had any other option. The decision doesn’t happen in a vacuum — there are always mitigating circumstances.
Understanding why someone supports abortion can help us offer a more grace-filled response. We can express regret and sorrow about what that person experienced, while also acknowledging the innocence of the preborn child and how that child is also a victim. Just mentioning abortion can dredge up painful memories and situations, so it’s critical that we approach any conversation with empathy and understanding.
Questions that challenge beliefs
As we seek to challenge the pro-abortion perspective with grace, a good place to start would be to establish that a preborn baby is indeed human. He or she isn’t merely a blob of cells, but a person with his or her own separate DNA. If preborn babies are fully human, doesn’t that make it wrong to kill them?
Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute, uses the acronym SLED when talking about abortion and the value of life at all stages. This acronym provides questions that you can ask your friends or family members to encourage them to think differently about who is or isn’t human:
Is a person’s life more valuable based on his or her size? For example, a grown adult is much bigger than a 6-year-old child. Do we value bigger humans over smaller ones?
Level of development
Every human life starts as an embryo, and we grow into preborn babies, newborns, toddlers, children, teenagers and adults. Why should our level of development dictate our value as human beings? Are babies not really human beings until they can speak or walk? This can also be a slippery slope when it comes to individuals with disabilities or people with Alzheimer’s. Do we devalue their life because their mental capacity is more limited?
Does our location dictate our value? The passage down the birth canal is only about 8 inches. Does that really make all the difference? Are you less human in Florida than you are in Colorado? Of course not, so the passage from the womb to the outside world shouldn’t make any difference in the value of a human life.
Degree of dependency
Newborn babies cannot do anything for themselves, so are their lives worthless? I think most would agree that they’re not. What about diabetics who need insulin or cancer patients who need chemotherapy? Are their lives less valuable because they need medical assistance to survive? The answer should be a resounding no.
An ongoing dialogue
Your conversation with a pro-abortion friend or relative could have immediate results, but more than likely, it will be the beginning of a longer discussion that could last for years. As long as the lines of communication are open, there’s always an opportunity to share truth. You never know how the Lord is working in the heart of your friend or family member.
In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, the apostle Paul exhorts, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
There’s always risk when engaging with an emotionally loaded topic like abortion, and there’s no guarantee where the conversation will go, but it’s still important to share your pro-life perspective with your friends and family members. It may cause divisions, but to not share your beliefs could mean that lies about abortion still have a hold on their hearts and lives. Keep speaking about the value of life in the womb with grace and truth.