Monday, March 29, 2021

How to discuss the pro-life position with someone who's had an abortion

Two young women having a conversation

Secular Pro-Life supporter "M" emailed us to ask:

The one thing that prevents me from being more outspoken about my pro-life views is the awkwardness I feel when I know my conversation partner has had an abortion. I don't know how to navigate the conversation. Can you recommend any resources that may help me with this?

Our response: 

The question you pose is definitely a difficult one, and the answer is going to vary depending on a lot of factors: how well you know the person, why she had the abortion, whether she "shouts" proudly or has misgivings, etc. That said, I can think of a few things that will apply across the board. The first, obviously, is not to jump straight to condemning the person. Yes, abortion is a human rights violation — but that doesn't mean that every post-abortive mother woke up one morning and said "I think I'll violate my baby's fundamental right to life today." Most abortions are motivated by financial distress, not hatred of the child. Besides, someone you accuse of murder (even correctly!) will not be open to further discussion. You may be able to find common ground by emphasizing what the pro-life movement does to meet pregnant women's immediate needs. Finally, you should definitely be ready with secular resources for healing emotionally from an abortion; here's a list to get you started

I hope that's helpful. Remember, some level of awkwardness comes with the territory when you are pushing for genuine social change. It's a small sacrifice to make for the possibility of saving a life!

"M" replied: 

Thanks so much for responding personally to my question! I have several close friends who have had abortions, and my sister just revealed to me that she had an abortion 13 years ago. The last thing I want to do is condemn these women I love and care about. A major reason that I am pro-life is that I think I would have probably had an abortion or strongly considered it if I had found myself in a similar situation when I was young and unmarried because the cultural messaging I received back then was absolutely pro-choice.

While I do support fighting for laws to end abortion, I think the biggest fight we have is in changing cultural attitudes toward the moral relevance of the unborn. I find the secular pro-life message to be absolutely the most compelling in this arena.

I guess I'm just frustrated with myself because I can't seem to get over my fear of offending someone. You're right that dealing with my own discomfort and awkwardness is a small price to pay.

I think I'll probably need to start small by being honest about my stance when it comes up in conversation, instead of my usual tactic of keeping my mouth shut.

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. I so admire the work you do!

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[Photo credit: Christina @ on Unsplash]

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