Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls podcast:
Scroll down to read it as a blog post!
NOTE: I’m going to write most of this as if I’m the 20-something liberal college student who I was. I am now FIRMLY pro-life for many good and true reasons but I want to give you a glimpse into what some pro-choicers are thinking and how you can reach them. When I say things like, “It’s not a baby, it’s a clump of cells,” recognize that I DON’T think that, but I did and it’s important to understand why I changed my mind.
I grew up in liberal Portland, OR and went to college in liberal Seattle, WA where most young people think, “You do what’s right for you and I’ll do what’s right for me.” With this attitude there is a danger of thinking that in order to help everyone belong, we must accept everyone as they are and there is no wrong answer out there. But for most of us, we never sensed that danger, we thought we were loving PEOPLE.
Love who you want.
Watch porn, it’s not hurting anyone.
Women are the same as men.
It’s my body, I can do what I want.
No one ever questioned me about this. It was we “ALL” thought. Not only do many young, liberals think this way but they are PROUD of it! For most pro-life people, this is unfathomable. How can you condone the death of millions of babies? Well it’s easy, we don’t think it’s the death of a baby. We see the person right in front of us instead of the tiny “clump of cells” that’s inside of her.
The good news is, in my experience, pro-choicers are usually pro-choice because they love people. This is so great. This means we can reach them. So hold on to that hope and keep reading.
Yes, babies in the womb are human beings, but so what. – Abortion Activist Mary Elizabeth Williams
Many pro-life people find the most offensive quotes they can and splash them on billboards and the the internet to prove how really awful pro-choice people are. But this would just cause me to give a big eye roll and move on. No one is really moved by extremists who sound crazy. None of my kind and loving pro-choice friends ever said things like this. They never used harsh language or sounded indifferent to the gravity of the situation.
Instead, they were always concerned with the woman who was actually pregnant. And let’s be honest, if a woman is raped and you had to go into her hospital room and tell her she was pregnant and had to carry this baby to term… that’s some heavy stuff. That’s a tough conversation. Most people don’t want to leave their comfort zone to think about that scene. Instead we say, “Oh just let her choose,” as if it eases the situation.
And for most pro-choice people, THIS is the situation that bubbles up for them. It’s why so many say, “Well I would never have an abortion but I don’t think I have the right to tell someone else what to do.”
Again this is borne from love.
I have not met one single person who thinks it’s okay to just keep having abortion after abortion like it’s some oops kind of birth control. I know there are pro-choice advocates who scream and rant offensive and nonsensical things but again, I have never actually met one or had a conversation with one.
Our tactics must change if we are to reach the majority of the pro-choicers. Here are five things I think pro-life people need to stop doing if they want to change the mind of a pro-choice person like I was:
1. Stop talking about how the baby is a baby right after conception. They DON’T believe this yet so you’re wasting your breath. Be friends, build trust. When you start arguing here, you sound like a Vegan who is utterly shocked that you would even consider eating butter like it’s a great crime. Of course veganism and abortion are completely different, but to a pro-choice person, you probably sound the same.
2. Stop using extreme language. My husband once said to me, “So do you think it’d be fine to kill a two year old then?” I was so offended. He used some extreme example of a person who did think that you should be able to kill your children, even after they’re born and tried to make me feel bad for thinking a first term abortion was okay. But this comment shut down our conversation, it broke our trust and significantly lessened his chance of ever making progress with me on this topic. It was as if he was calling me dumb right to my face. Who wants to talk someone who thinks you’re in idiot?
3. Stop using graphic images. They are pro-choice, they believe someone should have the right to have an abortion. Most of them are not confused about what a fetus looks like. When you hold a sign up with a bloody baby, this does not make them think, “Oh you’re right, it’s not just a clump of cells, I change my mind.” They roll their eyes and think, “Yep, those people are crazy and that’s why I’m pro-choice.”
NOTE: I do actually believe using ultrasounds to show pregnant mothers their own baby is one of the most powerful ways to change their minds about abortion. I think we should put some significant funding behind getting ultrasounds in pregnancy centers for this reason.
4. Stop posting ridiculous death rates. Comparing the abortion death rate to the holocaust or the civil war or to cancer… is meaningless. If they don’t consider these babies to be alive, they don’t consider their death toll. You might as well say, “Let’s boycott this movie because it killed MILLIONS of ants in the production.” Well, yeah, but who cares? If they don’t think they are babies, these numbers don’t move them and really it just makes them think pro-lifers are just stooping to cheap tactics.
5. Stop treating the pro-choice person you’re talking to like he or she is dumb. Very few people think of themselves as dumb. Let’s be honest, most of us are not deeply educated these days. Our beliefs are made up of many soundbites and group held opinions. I know, this isn’t true of everyone, but I don’t think most people could give you a really educated answer about why they are a democrat or a republican. This is often the same with their stance on abortion. They think they know why they feel strongly but at the end of the day, they haven’t done any real research on it. Not being educated about a topic is not the same thing as being dumb. You will shut down the conversation if you treat them like a child.
So what finally worked for me? Well it shouldn’t be a surprise… love. I do love people. I do think babies are precious. So when my husband asked me if I thought third term abortions were okay, I had to admit that I really didn’t. If you found yourself suddenly and unexpectedly pregnant, wouldn’t you have an abortion right away?
To me, this captured those extreme situations of rape or being forced to get pregnant somehow when you really didn’t want to. And if that was the case, you wouldn’t let this baby grow inside of you for 6 months before deciding you didn’t want the baby. I really saw no reason to justify a third trimester abortion. Babies who are born in the third trimester can absolutely live so if you let it get that far, why wouldn’t you just have the baby and give it up for adoption?
So then he asked me, well what about a second trimester abortion? And I had to think about that a little more. Well… I hear that some people genuinely don’t know they’re pregnant for three months. In fact I have a friend who didn’t know she was pregnant until 11 weeks! She was breastfeeding her youngest and simply didn’t know or feel pregnant. Now, her and her husband were wanting another baby so the discovery was filled with joy but this situation does happen. Some people genuinely don’t know for a long time.
So then I thought, well maybe it’s okay up to 20 weeks. See how I arbitrarily picked that time? By now, you can see that my personal belief is starting unravel. My husband pushed further. Okay, so we now say that abortions are okay up to 20 weeks. What about the day before? What is different about the day before?
And that was it for me. “What is different about the day before?” If I don’t believe you should kill a two year old and I don’t believe you should kill a third trimester baby who could easily survive being born… what about the day before? That’s when I realized that no matter what law is passed, the point at which an abortion is legal will always arbitrary. Someone is going to make up a number and then draw that as a hard line. This is a human life after the line but not before. It doesn’t make sense.
This is how I changed my mind about abortion. On Thursday I’m going to post the second part of this article which is What TO Say to a Pro-Choicer including how to refute common objections. Stay tuned!