[Today's guest post by Shannon Morrow is part of our paid blogging program.]
Today’s world is truly global. The past hundred years have seen incredible improvements in communication and transportation that have allowed us to interact with people all over the world, from different upbringings, backgrounds, religions, and cultures. We are interacting with people completely different from us, with completely different ways of looking at the world, in a way never before seen. This means we must change the way we defend the pro-life cause.
This is something I learned very quickly my first year at Harvard. I came from a very conservative, Baptist town in Texas, and from a staunchly conservative, Catholic family. In my town, even the liberals were pro-life and religious. My family had a very strong voice in the pro-life movement, so I grew up hearing the arguments for being pro-life. It was quite a culture shock moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, a town in which my freshman year almost the entire city voted President Barack Obama into his first term of office, and to Harvard, where the Harvard Right to Life group had to fight the administration for even the basic right granted to all student groups to put posters around campus (if not for our arguments, they would not have even let us put up “Smile, your mother chose life” posters, much less of the stages of pregnancy). I was surrounded by people who had grown up in rich, Liberal, well-educated, mainly Northeastern-dwelling families who had had just as little exposure to the world outside of that bubble as I had had to the world outside of my own. Thankfully, my bubble had popped when I stepped foot outside of it, and since the people around me had yet to step outside of their own bubble, I decided to make it my mission to pop it for them. I did this by trying to take away all of their stereotypes of the pro-life movement and argue for pro-life causes in a way they could not dismiss.
My experience has taught me the way that one can defend the pro-life movement to anyone, anywhere in the world, with any background or religion. Of course, when you are talking to someone with your own faith, with your own background, you are welcome to argue based on that religion, and that is probably the most effective way to do it, and I encourage you to do so. But when we take this argument to the state or national level, or you are facing people who are not religious, or who are of a different religion, or you just don’t know their background, this is not the way to go. It will only reinforce stereotypes, cause people to ignore what you are saying, and create enemies. You will never convince anyone who disagrees with your religion to choose life for their child or to work to change laws that allow others to choose not to, if you quote Bible verses and say what God wants. There is no need for that! The pro-life movement can be defended on a strictly scientific and philosophical level, which will gain us much more ground both nationally and internationally.
Though many of you know this, I want summarize some of the pro-life stereotypes that must be combated. The people I met in Massachusetts automatically assumed that pro-life people had to be religious, had little education, were male and didn’t care about women’s rights, had no justification for their arguments outside of “superstition,” and/or just disregarded scientific evidence that didn’t prove their point. It doesn’t help that most politicians they see arguing for the cause are male, rich, and wrap their arguments in religion rather than science. They don’t take into account that being male and rich is true of a vast majority of national-stage politicians of any party, and religious arguments are what appeal to the conservative audiences they are addressing. Since those politicians, and religious groups protesting outside abortion clinics based on “God’s will,” are all they see of the pro-life movement, they have no reason to change their belief in that stereotype.
So how do we combat all of this? When you are talking to someone who is pro-choice, I want you to ask them one question: “What is the exact day in development that a fetus becomes human?” If one is to terminate a pregnancy, one would have to know this, otherwise they might be killing a child. If it is at birth, what is the difference between the baby one day before or one day after? The child could survive on its own if you took it out of the mother – would still have the same thoughts and emotions, same capabilities. These days most people see something wrong with partial-birth or late-term abortions. At this point the baby is starting to look too much like a baby, and it is getting hard to pretend that it isn’t human.
But if the cut-off is at six months, there is still the same question: what is the difference in that baby one day before and one day after? Or at three months? How can you make a law saying that someone is not human and someone else is with no justification? How can a law say that someone has a right to kill (for no one can honestly debate whether the fetus is a living thing) one of these sets and not the other? What exactly is it that makes fetuses human on the 6th month, or 5th month, or whatever date you choose, that no fetuses the day before that have? I have never debated anyone who has been able to answer this question, so how can a wide-sweeping law be made allowing the death of this fetus/baby?
The second thing I will ask you to do is to leave religion out of your argument. Unless you are talking to someone who has your beliefs, do not mention God, the Bible, or praying. Just don’t. We will never get laws passed across the nation protecting these babies until we get everyone to see that they are babies. Stick to the science, something everyone can agree on and debate in a coherent and intellectual way. Stick to the philosophy of basic human rights, which almost everyone, at least in the United States, can agree on. Once we have scientifically shown that this baby is just as much a human as one that is already born, which I feel is a very easy argument to make, then everything will change. As Justice Harry Blackmun said in the Roe vs. Wade decision, "The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a ‘person' within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the (Fourteenth) Amendment."
Let’s change people’s opinions of what a baby in the womb truly is in a way that everyone can see. So keep the stages of development posters and bracelets! But as soon as you start quoting the Bible, a wall will come up with anyone who does not believe the way you do. So tear down those walls! Show that you respect other people and argue with them on an equal playing field.