What to Say When – Making a Convincing Case for the Protection of Life

There is certainly a lot going on this weekend. The Cincinnati Bengals are in the Super Bowl for the first time in over a generation, many couples are celebrating Valentine’s Day early, and a lot of folks are catching up after digging out from last weekend’s ice storm. Maybe more to say about those later.

Today I want to focus on a powerful new book published by a pro-life organization “40 Days for Life.” (Visit them at 40DaysForLife.com.) They have been quietly but effectively working to build a culture of life where each unborn life in the womb is loved and respected, through multiple strategies including praying in front of abortion facilities for 40 days consecutively, speaking in love to abortionists and those who work in the abortion industry to help bring them out of its grip, and helping people to find the words and arguments which are most effective in bringing those who are pro-abortion or undecided into the pro-life camp. They have recently published a fine book entitled What to Say When: the Complete New Guide to Discussing Abortion: How to Change Minds and Convert Hearts in a Brave New World. OK – so that’s a mouthful! But just internet-search on “What to Say When” or visit their website and you’ll find it.

The book is chock full of practical advice on what to say and what NOT to say to help convince those who are skeptical of pro-life claims; how to ask key questions which make pro-abortion people think; how to use to your advantage the fact that protection of life is a case that almost makes itself; and much more. I especially recommend reading – and memorizing – the questions from “Point 3” in Chapter 1, “Go on offense.” The idea is that too many pro-life people allow themselves to get boxed into a corner and feel that they are the ones who have to defend their position, lest they be accused of being “anti-woman” or “anti-choice.” The opposite is true. If you ask the right questions in a listening frame of mind, without hostility and actually giving your opponent a chance to answer them, many supporters of abortion will see the indefensibility of their position.

In many debates (especially those manipulated by the secular media who are almost across-the-board strongly pro-abortion), those promoting abortion never have to confront even the most basic questions about what abortion actually is and what its consequences are. Asking the right questions in one-on-one personal conversations can change that dynamic.

Here’s an excerpt from that list of questions in the book which might put many pro-abortion people on the right track (pp. 15-17):

  • What is an abortion?
  • How do they actually do an abortion?
  • Why do you support abortion?
  • When are you comfortable with a baby being aborted? Is there a point in pregnancy when you would oppose abortion?
  • Is your support for abortion based on science or more of a “gut feeling”?
  • Are babies to you more valuable at 25 weeks than 12 weeks?
  • As technology and science advance, medical journals report that babies can survive outside the womb at earlier and earlier points in pregnancy. But abortion laws have not changed in almost 50 years. Are you OK with doing surgery on a twenty-two-week-old viable baby in the womb to improve his life but aborting a baby girl in the womb at the same age?
  • Do you think that the actions of our parents – good or bad – make us any more or less valuable than people born with different parents?
  • Do you feel that if a woman really wants an abortion but the baby survives and is born alive that the medical team who attempted to abort the baby should provide the newborn with medical care?
  • Black Americans make up only about 13% of the population but they make up 38 percent of all abortions. Do you think that is good or bad?
  • Do you think that it is elitist or offensive to tell family-oriented cultures outside of the United States that they should not have children?

The idea behind this approach is that, as long as you have an intellectually honest opponent, it gets beyond the emotional cries and sound bites and gotchas and makes them think about their position, and especially to see how radically inconsistent it is. For example, if asking about the actions of the parents, this helps defuse the argument that abortion must be legal because of rape or incest. The fact that these are a minuscule percentage of abortions doesn’t usually faze pro-abortionists, because emotion is on their side (most people are understandably horrified by these crimes, so they will let that emotion lead them to irrational conclusions). But taking the emotion out – and simply asking about how the parents’ character affects the value of the child – defuses this situation.

Similarly, the question about medical advances helps them see the radical inconsistency in arguing that it is a good thing and medical marvel to perform life-saving surgery in the womb and yet also a good thing to destroy the life at that same age arbitrarily. Many Americans are understandably moved by a desire to achieve racial justice and equity, so the question about the disparity between abortion rates of black and non-black babies may give them pause about the motives of the abortionists. Perhaps most importantly of all, asking them the most basic questions – such as ‘What is an abortion?’ and ‘How is it performed’ forces them to get beyond knee-jerk reactions or slogans such as “it’s a woman right to choose” and consider whether or not the actual action is justifiable or not. Again, I highly recommend reading the book.

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