As a Catholic and a feminist, I am unapologetically pro-life. I recognize that every single human being is made in the image of God and is therefore deserving of being treated with love and dignity. As someone who has taken basic biology, I know that an individual human’s life begins at conception. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that doesn’t acknowledge the dignity of every human, and the unborn are one of the vulnerable populations whose dignity is disregarded. I sincerely believe that we can change that, but there are things that pro-life advocates need to stop doing.

1) Treating post-abortive women poorly

Yes, the decision the women made was wrong, and there is no denying that they ended a human life, but these women still need to be treated with respect. Some women don’t even realize the gravity of what they did; they might not realize that they ended the life of their child. Other women may be grieving what they did. Still others may be bitter and defensive and calling them things like “murderers” will only push them further away. If you go so far as to say you wish a post-abortive woman was aborted, you have caused nearly everyone involved (pro-life and pro-choice alike) to lose respect for you. I am not saying we should deny the reality of abortion, but we need to still acknowledge the inherent dignity each of these women possesses and treat them with respect.

2) Failing to recognize that society enables (and encourages) women to make these choices

We live in a culture that actively dehumanizes the unborn and encourages abortion. The rhetoric surrounding the unborn is abhorrent: parasite, clump of cells, tumor. There are ridiculous euphemisms like “healthcare.” Society tells women who face unexpected pregnancy that the strong decision is to have an abortion. The pro-choice movement is fighting to normalize abortion, and the days of “safe, legal, and rare” have transformed into “safe-ish and legal.” We can also look at the limited resources available to women experiencing crisis pregnancy. These factors don’t completely excuse the decision, but they certainly play a huge role.

3) Failing to understand that pro-choicers sincerely believe they are helping women

I think the tendency for both sides is to view the other side as having evil motives. If we approach a conversation with pro-choicers with the understanding that the vast majority of them genuinely believe they are doing what is best for the women (and oftentimes, the child, too), it will let us have a much more civil conversation. Abortion is an incredibly emotional topic, but to have an effective conversation, we need to communicate calmly and respectfully. If we secretly view the other person as a villain, that is going to shade the conversation.

4) Overusing the Margaret Sanger argument

Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood), supported some horrific things, but that is very rarely relevant to the discussion on abortion. Just because a person does a lot of bad things doesn’t mean their argument is necessarily bad. Just because someone is a really good person doesn’t mean their argument is right. There are a lot of people who do bad things on the pro-choice side, but there are also a lot of bad people on the pro-life side. Don’t get caught up in an argument about the quality of people (or rather, what they do) on either side; focus instead on the quality of the arguments.

Don’t get caught up in an argument about the quality of people (or rather, what they do) on either side; focus instead on the quality of the arguments. Click To Tweet

5) Refusing to find common ground

Trent Horn addresses this well in his book but simply put, there is no shame in acknowledging common ground. In fact, that can advance the conversation. Yes, there are those ridiculous pro-choice people who will take that agreement and claim you are giving in, but if they are so argumentative that they think any sign of agreement is a weakness in your points, then it is probably time to step away from the conversation anyways.

There is no shame in acknowledging common ground. Click To Tweet

6) Giving in too much

That being said, don’t concede to things you don’t agree with. I think the most common issue I see if a pro-choicer saying “if you were really pro-life, you would support free contraception.” Rather than going into detail on why this statement is wrong, I’ll just say don’t be pushed around by someone who is pro-choice telling you the proper way to be pro-life.

7) Not knowing the facts on contraception

Please, stop with the ridiculous statements about contraception that can be easily disproved. Not all chemical birth control are abortifacients. IUDs don’t shred organs. Contraception numbers can be skewed. For example, condoms are said to be 98% effective, but that number is only for people who use condoms perfectly; in reality, that number is more like 82%. If you don’t know something about contraception, admit that you don’t. It is much better to admit a lack of knowledge than to spout incorrect facts that will discredit everything else you said.

It is much better to admit a lack of knowledge than to spout incorrect facts that will discredit everything else you said. Click To Tweet

8) Bloody abortion signs

I know there are mixed perspectives on this within the pro-life movement, and I welcome conversation on this. My perspective is it is certainly beneficial for people to see the real impact of abortion, but don’t force anyone to look at gore. Gorey signs on the side of the road can distract drivers or scare children. It could be painful for a woman who miscarried or regrets her abortion. Pro-life advocates argue that they are ineffective and actually encourage a woman to continue with her plan for abortion. I also think that in some (not all) situations, it actually objectifies the child who presented in the photograph.

9) Ignoring secular arguments

As Catholics, knowing God doesn’t want us to do something is enough of a reason (and really the only reason that matters), but that doesn’t fly in today’s secular society. Fortunately, there is an abundance of secular arguments that are effective in discussing the problems with abortion. Abortion isn’t just a religious issue; it’s a human rights issue.

Abortion isn’t just a religious issue; it’s a human rights issue. Click To Tweet

10) Trying to win arguments instead of souls

I have issues with this myself. I know that I land a point that leaves someone who is pro-choice absolutely speechless. The problem is winning arguments doesn’t do anything if we aren’t also changing minds. Find a balance between having persuasive points and engaging the people on the other side. You might not be the person to change their minds, but you could lay the groundwork that will ultimately lead them to the truth, or even just give them a different opinion of pro-life advocates.

11) Source selection

I totally understand that a lot of pro-life sources provide reputable information, but the second someone sees “life” in the title of the webpage, your argument is shot. Don’t let them complain about your source; make them address the argument and refute the facts. Try to find resources that are reputable, peer-reviewed journals or that a pro-choice advocate would find agreeable.

Don’t let them complain about your source; make them address the argument and refute the facts. Click To Tweet

12) Not knowing how to respond

Unfortunately, the pro-life movement is frequently put on the defensive. Fortunately, there is an abundance of resources that help you to learn and understand pro-life defenses. Take the time to know how to articulately express your beliefs and address common responses from pro-choice advocates. Though we have the truth on our side, we need to articulate it well.

13) Using lame arguments

Though we may have some good intentions, what we say can have negative consequences. We need to avoid bad phrasings like talking about how the child could’ve been president rather than affirming their inherent human dignity or more subtle things like saying “giving up” for adoption rather than “placing” for adoption. These things, though they seem minor, do matter.

14) Forgetting about other pro-life issues

Obviously, abortion is the biggest pro-life issue, and it makes sense that it should be the largest priority for the pro-life movement. However, that doesn’t mean we can completely disregard other pro-life issues, especially when it comes to voting. We should take into account the death penalty, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and unjust war.

***

Despite these flaws in the pro-life movement, we have a lot more on our side that the pro-choice side: we know the truth about abortion, we are fighting for the rights of vulnerable humans, and most importantly, God is on our side. If we work on addressing these flaws, we can change hearts more effectively and ultimately change the culture. We can overturn this culture of death!

If we work on addressing these flaws, we can change hearts more effectively and ultimately change the culture. Click To Tweet

 

14 comments
  • Hilary
    April 5, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    I’ve thought a lot about #8 there. I’ve always been pro-life, but I will definitely admit that a graphic presentation at the Students for Life conference filled me with a fire to stop abortion like never before, so I’ll generally fall on the side of “they have their place”.
    But your point about them objectifying the unborn child made me do a double take. A well-known pro life advocate pulled a horrible stunt a few years back by placing the corpse of a child who had died from a saline abortion on an the altar of a church for one of his presentations. I was horrified and disgusted. Not by the presence of the child’s remains, but for the thoughtless way that poor baby had been turned into a prop.
    If there were a way (and I’m not sure there is) to present the visual results of abortion while simultaneously acknowledging the individual personhood and dignity of the unborn, I would be on board. But as a prop to incite outrage and disgust? No. Humans are worth more than that.

    Reply
    • Kate of Stumbling Toward Sainthood • Post Author •
      April 5, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      Yeah, the putting the child on the altar really, really upset me. Like you said, they do encourage people to fight abortion or at least reconsider their position, but it is all about the context in which it is presented and how we do it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
  • Laura
    April 5, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    You have great points here! I’ve been thick in the movement for 6+ years, and am thankful the majority of people I know don’t fall into these. But they are certainly very real issues in some pro-life crowds. Thanks for pointing them out!

    Reply
    • Kate of Stumbling Toward Sainthood • Post Author •
      April 5, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Yes, fortunately, it is just the minority that does it. Unfortunately, they make a very big impact. 🙁 Thank you for fighting for life!

      Reply
    • Hannah
      April 7, 2018 at 9:52 pm

      Agreed!!

      Reply
  • Fouad
    April 5, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    This is a great post! Especially to note that being pro-life means caring for people at the end of their lives also!

    Reply
    • Kate of Stumbling Toward Sainthood • Post Author •
      April 5, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Absolutely! I am seeing more and more disturbing trends when it comes to how we treat the elderly and sick. Part of it comes from the view that peoples’ worths come from what they do for society, but I also think that our culture (understandably) struggles with the concept of suffering.

      Reply
  • Hannah
    April 7, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Stay strong! I see good things happening every day that continue to give me hope for the unborn (and all human life!)

    Reply
    • Kate of Stumbling Toward Sainthood • Post Author •
      April 9, 2018 at 5:51 pm

      I agree! There is so much good being done to defend the dignity of human life!

      Reply
  • Alessia
    April 25, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Amen to all of this. I often feel like a pariah around here but I have not been actively involved with pro-life work in 3 years because of major disagreements with how things are done. The only reason making me consider going to the March for Life since it’s in London this time is the recent behaviour towards women who were helped by pavement counsellors at the council hearing to ban vigils from being within 100 meters of the clinic. They were silenced and that’s so not ok for me.

    Reply
  • Andrea
    January 1, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    There are at tens of issues that need to be solved before the issue of abortion is addressed.

    Where I grew up (a country in Western Balkans, Europe, 6 million inhabitants), statistics say that one woman is killed by a man (housband or ex-lover etc.) every 10 days. Women loose their jobs as soon as they come back from maternity leave. Drug dealing is the main source of income for many households. Kids take knives to school to protect themselves or to threaten other childrean and teachers.

    The police beats innocent people. The government takes away land from already poor people to give to the rich. People do not have access to healthcare. Doctors earn a couple of hundred euros per month and most of them fled to Germany.

    People demonstrate on the streets each Saturday against a totalitarian government.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-life. But in order to provide life, you need to make a safe environment, with no aggression, instability. You have to provide human rights to adults and existing children before you give them to the unborn.

    Reply
    • Kate
      April 23, 2019 at 7:38 am

      Hi Andrea,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Reading your comment leads me to believe that you have a big heart for the suffering of others.

      Where we disagree is the idea that we can’t address abortion until we address all the other life issues. What really struck me about your comment was “existing children.” The unborn are “existing children,” too.

      The right to life is the most fundamental right. Without affirming that, we have no foundation (or a very weak one) to work on other rights issues. If we can’t defend the most innocent and vulnerable in our society, how can we expect to defend others?

      This isn’t to say we shouldn’t worry about the issues you mentioned; instead, it is to say we should prioritize the biggest issue as we work on the other issues.

      Reply
  • Kim
    February 10, 2019 at 2:17 am

    Thank you for writing this. #1 is me. I am post abort. The things I see written and have heard with my own ears from conservative pro life friends is very very painful. Although I have done some spiritual work in moving past abortion, I feel very wounded by what I have heard and read, over and over. I cant see myself ever be involved in the pro life movement, even though it is something I would like to do, because I could only imagine what people would say if they knew. Actually, I feel angry and resentful. I feel they re sanctimonious. All the Christian teaching on forgiveness and love the sinner, reject the sin are total lies. I have posted some very thoughtful articles i found on this topic on Facebook and find that these people never, ever comment or like them, they will like and comment on everything else!. I find it just reinforces my belief that many in the pro life movement who claim to be strong Christian’s are really sanctimonious zealots. I am still pro life. I feel myself and millions of others would be a powerful force but for the lack of acceptance, we stay silent. I feel the churches have done very little to educate congregations or to understand post abort women, there is no appreciation for the reality of the situations women find themselves in, only a lot of assumptions. Most pro life people have zero idea and also most I think have never even talked with women who have had an abortion! I think that is rather shocking I see so many people write that women who abort are: commies, cold women, nazi feminists and they have no desire to reproduce! This is nonsense, they onkybsee through a political lens, yet abortion is not a political decision, it is a desperate and frightening one. For me, i did not see it as a baby, only as a clump of cells, in my early 20s. And millions of women who had abortions have gone on to have babies and families! Millions of these women are neighbors, family members, and are Christian’s! Why don’t pro lifers know that? The pro life movement, I think it continues to not totally succeed because it purposefully excludes and ignores millions of people who might be it’s most powerful voice. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Kate
      April 23, 2019 at 7:24 am

      Kim,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I admire your bravery in sharing your story. I hope you continue to find healing (maybe look at Project Rachel).

      I’m so sorry for the hurt you’ve experienced from others.

      I’d love to read the articles you mentioned. Please feel free to link to them below or email me at stumblingtowardsainthood@gmail.com.

      And since it sounds like you haven’t heard this enough: you are a beloved daughter of God. You are a person of dignity, deserving of love and respect.

      Thank you for sharing your story.

      Reply

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