What Should You Say to a Woman Who is Happy That She Had an Abortion?

I got a great question from a colleague recently, and wanted to share my thoughts with you. If you have something to add, I’d love to read them in the comments!

The question was this: If a girl comes up and says that Roe vs. Wade has improved her life, and talks about all the things she has been able to do after an abortion like go to college, what do you think is the best way of responding to that?

Excellent question. Off the top of my head, I think I’d say something like this:

I’m glad that you didn’t suffer any physical complications of your abortion, and that you aren’t suffering from the depression that some of my friends who are also post-abortive have experienced.

Let me ask you a question that’s a little more philosophical though. Do you think there any other factors that people should consider as they try to assess whether abortion is morally right or wrong? Do you think that if some women are not negatively affected by abortion, that proves that abortion is morally neutral?

What I’m doing here is trying to lead her to discussing other things besides whether a particular woman is happy or sad about her abortion. I want to get us talking about the central question of the abortion debate: is the unborn a valuable human being or not? We could demonstrate that abortion is wrong even if every single post-abortive woman had positive feelings about her abortion.

You could also have a discussion about the difference between right/wrong and wise/foolish. Arguably, some pro-life slogans make a stronger case that abortion is foolish, that it’s not a wise decision because of how it affects some women and society. I think women should consider whether abortion is not a wise decision, but we also want them thinking about how some things can be wrong even if they don’t affect us negatively. For example, the head of a corporation that irreparably harms the environment or kills whales around Antarctica may not feel any guilt from that, and he may not suffer any loss in profit either. Yet it may still be immoral to harm whales or the environment in that way. (That would probably be a more helpful example than a plantation owner who doesn’t feel bad about owning slaves.)

Here’s what I would never do: Say that you don’t believe the person in front of you. “But everybody is affected by abortion!” “You may not feel guilt yet, but you will later.” Statements like that will not be helpful.

The post “What Should You Say to a Woman Who is Happy That She Had an Abortion?” originally appeared at JoshBrahm.comClick here to subscribe via email and get exclusive access to a FREE MP3 of Josh Brahm’s speech, “Nine Faulty Pro-Life Arguments and Tactics.”

Question: What would you say to a woman who is happy that she had an abortion? Post your thoughts below in the comments!

President

Josh Brahm is the President of Equal Rights Institute, an organization that trains pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly and argue persuasively.

Josh uses speaking, writing and campus outreach to emphasize practical dialogue tips, pro-life philosophy, and relational apologetics.

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  • Clinton

    Good response. I’ve actually been wondering this, myself.

    • Yeah, the question stopped me in my tracks when it was sent to me. While I’ve had women shout things to me on campus while walking by like, “I LOVED MY ABORTION!” I haven’t had somebody say something like that and stick around to chat.

      I’m pretty interested in what other people post in the comments. I bet there are some great points that can be made that I didn’t think of. :)

      • Clinton

        Yeah. It’s one of those statements that doesn’t make you question your position, just wonder the best way to respond that won’t make her feel like you know more about her than she does.

  • ChristinaDunigan

    This has always been a bugaboo for me. I find the attitude that the woman is glad that she had an abortion so fundamentally revolting that I can scarcely see her as human. Of course, I’m hearing, “I’m glad that I killed a baby.” That’s not necessarily what she’s saying — though some hardcore “Embrace Yourself as Goddess” women ARE saying that.

    • Christina, I hope this comment reads a lot more harshly than you meant it. Frankly, I’m tempted to delete it. Would you like to clarify a little?

      • ChristinaDunigan

        I’m saying that to me, “I’m glad I had an abortion” sounds like “I’m glad I killed my baby.” I may realize intellectually that there are VERY few women who actually DO mean that — the “Embrace Yourself as Goddess” types — but it still sounds that way.

        It’s a huge effort not to recoil is revulsion and horror. Being GLAD you created and killed a baby is so inhuman, so frankly demonic, that it’s a sheer effort of will to get past the impression the statement gives me.

        Perhaps reading too many “Abortion as a Sacrifice to Artemis” and such has colored my gut reaction. One man wrote that he had always respected women who have abortions, but once he realized that from the very beginning, the unborn are fully human beings, he now stands in total AWE of women who abort, who embrace that life and death power and wield it as a goddess.

        And that’s where my knee-jerk response goes, on a gut level, to “I’m glad I had an abortion.” It sounds like a celebration of having been able to take the life of an innocent child, like wallowing in having had that power.

  • isaelijohjac

    Great post. My first thought after reading the comments is that abortion is evil. However, woman that have abortions are not evil. Some woman that claim they are thankful that they had an abortion, are not at all thankful but I trying to work through the horrific thought that they killed their baby. Others are oblivious consciencely but are asking questions–and that is a good thing. Most woman suffer from abotion–but show this in different ways–and some become the woman screaming that she loved her abortion — many suffer without even knowing they are suffering. My difficulty in this is that by helping the woman that says abortion improved her life see that she is actually not happy but is suffering, she will start to suffer. Of course this is a necessary part of healing. Obviously the response needs to be sensitive to this. People like Christina would do best to NOT be in the discussion. Until somebody sees the true anquish of a woman that has to live with knowing she killed her child, people as unsensitive as this should not be a part of the discussion. And, comments like this hurt the pro life movement. Woman will come forward when they feel safe and unjudged. If every woman that feels pain (knowingly or not) came forward and talked about her pain, or counseled other woman, or became a sidewalk counselor, abortion would lose–evil would lose and babies would live. So, I don’t have an answer to the original question and I wasn’t going to respond until I read the comments. Every chance we have to be compassionate is a chance to save a life–a woman’s and perhaps a baby.

    • ChristinaDunigan

      Yeah, I agree that my gut response needs to be gotten totally rid of, or at least turned to quiet background noise, before I can have that sort of discussion. I’d probably need to say, “I know that my own knee-jerk emotional response is so far off-base that it’s best if I don’t continue this conversation. I don’t want you getting my prejudices. Perhaps you can talk to Josh.”

      I probably ought to practice quietly having imaginary conversations, with what women are TYPICALLY trying to express when they say this, to overcome the original revulsion and horror.

      • Darlene Pawlik

        I think your honesty is also valuable to the discussion. Overcoming the impulses our emotions lead us to, is maturity. Your sensitivity to the truth should stay. Don’t get rid of that.
        “How did you find peace?” or “How did you manage to avoid the strong feelings of guilt and regret some of my friends have had?” are awesome ways of helping women think.
        How can two walk together, unless they are agreed? To change a woman’s mind, bring healing and ‘Recall Abortion’, she’ll have to come to the same truth you know Christina. You can bring her there.
        We grow by reaching outside our comfort zone.
        This is a good forum for growth.
        God bless you all ways.

  • Michelle

    I am not sure there is a perfect response. I think something along the lines of Josh’s initial statement is sufficient. And then perhaps “Just know if there ever is a point in your life when you begin experiencing any pain or regret, there is help. And share that with your friends too. They might not be as at peace as you are.” I don’t think I’d even debate them. Part of the declaration of them being at peace and happy about their choice is a self-preservation declaration. For example, I had a student once whose parents BOTH were unstable. however, in her mind, the father was totally fine and a good father. he wasn’t. But for her to maintain her own sanity, stability, one of the parents “had” to be normal for her. Stating that they are at peace or happy about their decision isn’t necessarily the reality. Sometimes we say things that aren’t actually true in an effort to make them true and reinforce them as a belief in our mind. I’m not sure the person saying this is ready to even discuss the issue philosophically. It is likely to put them on the defense. The words “I don’t regret it and I’m happy about it” is a statement that ‘ends discussion.’ It is a way of closing the topic, not opening themselves up. Perhaps a better response would be “Tell me a little bit more about the process you’ve gone through to be at peace and happy.” let them talk. The more they talk, the more likely you will see holes in what they share. Given an opportunity to speak freely and feel heard, you will likely see where doubts still remain. And then be a resource for healing should they in the future need help. Denial is powerful. A woman declaring joy and no regret also can maintain a strong sense of denial of what she feels. I have lived with some painful decisions and when asked initially if I regretted them, I declared a vehement no. it was a lie. It took years for me to really call out my decisions as wrong and feel pain over them. I didn’t want to face any regret because that shook me inside and would be something I had to ‘deal with.’

    • I love this comment, Michelle. This reminds me of something Justice For All trains volunteers to say when we meet post-abortive women: “Is there anything you would like me to know about your experience as I talk to people about abortion today?”

      • CelticJaneite

        I like this.

  • CelticJaneite

    Not a student by the way, but would like to add: I would would probably say nothing, because I regard a woman who has had an abortion like a piece of fine crystal that could shatter at the moment of truth. Handle with Care. I would look at her with compassion and say a prayer for her.

    • מְאוֹר פָּנִים צְלָב

      But God makes beauty out of brokeness. Brings beauty out of Ashes, restores what needs to be healed. If that happened, it’d be a great thing. Not because I would wish for her to drown in guilt, but because chances are she. Would. Never. So. It. Again. Ever ever ever and as a result, she could help more people! ! ! :)
      A prayer goes a long ways, buuuut the Bible also talks about being God’s hands and feet. And I quote Casting Crowns, “WHEN WE LOVE, we have the right to speak the truth. I’m not pointing my finger, I’m laying out my hand.” ♡

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  • Warren Fain

    Josh,
    Please let me know your reasons for using “unborn” instead of “preborn.” Unborn children remain unborn in abortion–why use such a negative and undescriptive term? Preborn says what biology and creation intend for life in the womb–eventual birth. So why shouldn’t we use preborn, all things being equal, instead of unborn?
    Looking forward to your answer.
    Warren Fain

    • Clinton

      Well, Josh can speak for himself, obviously, but while I do tend to use the term “preborn” (because it indicates movement, whereas just using the term “un” seems to indicate stagnation), there is nothing inherently wrong with using the term “unborn” because “un-” just means “not.” So calling the child “unborn” it just means you’re saying they’re not born. So it is linguistically correct to call them unborn. The only reason I prefer to refer to them as “preborn” is because “pre-” indicates movement toward something, whatever the noun the prefix is affixed to is.

      • Warren Fain

        Clinton,

        I respectfully disagree. Pro-aborts use the term “unborn fetus,” to dehumanize the child in the womb. We should make every effort to speak about prenatal human life in the most accurate and theologically precise way possible. The child in the womb is seen by God as meant to be born (short of natural miscarriage). Thus by saying prenatal child or preborn baby , we are speaking the way God thinks about that child–intending birth for her or him. The child remains “unborn” in an abortion. So why should we even use the term…it gives no precise meaning other than the obvious…the child is not born….yet ! If we mean not born ….yet, then let’s say so by using a term like preborn, which implies “intended to be given birth.”
        There is so much that dehumanizes the child in the womb, so we should not add to those murky waters by using imprecise terms that do not explicitly imply God’s intention–BIRTH !!
        Can you think of any positive reason not to urge others to use a different term than “unborn.” If it is just a matter of lazy usage, then we need to repent and rethink. Since preborn says so much more of God’s intention, I can’t think of any reason not to abandon “unborn” in favor of a more precise and more theologically correct term, like prenatal child or preborn baby.
        Please let me know if you can think of any logical reasons to retain usage of “unborn.” I would really like to know.
        For His little ones,

        Warren Fain
        ——————————————–

        • Clinton

          Hi, Warren:

          Personally, I think Christians misuse the word “repent”. If we are using the term incorrectly, there is nothing to “repent” about. If we are using a term incorrectly, then we just stop using it incorrectly and start using it correctly.

          Now, the terms “unborn” and “preborn” are not theological terms — so there is no “theologically correct” way to use these terms. “Unborn” just literally means “not born,” and “preborn” just literally means “before being born”. There’s no theology inherent in these terms.

          It’s true that pro-choice people tend to dehumanize the unborn, but pro-life people have a tendency to add too much emotion to the issue. I think I can use the scientifically correct term “human fetus” without dehumanizing it. I don’t just say fetus because any mammal starts as an embryo/fetus. I want to make sure we all remember and understand that this is a *human* fetus we are talking about, so that there’s no confusion or dehumanizing going on.

          So I agree that we should seek to use the word the most correct way, and “human fetus” is the scientifically correct term for a human being from the third month in the womb until birth. Calling it a “child” or a “baby” can muddy the waters a bit and add too much emotion, because really, “child” or “baby” can refer to anything. I’m still my mother’s “baby.” And a “child” can refer to a human being at *any* stage of development until they are an adult. So really, the most accurate term to use is “human embryo” or “human fetus.” Now, I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to call the unborn child a child or baby, but those are certainly not the most accurate terms you can use. “Human embryo” and “human fetus” are.

    • Sorry I haven’t responded yet, Warren. My family and I have been very sick for nearly a week now. Our kids got it first, and it was bronchitis and very high fevers, and then we got it. I’ll respond soon.

    • Hey Warren, thanks for your patience. I had Steve Wagner and Gabi Vehrs on my show to discuss “preborn” as well as other common terms for humans in the womb, and you can listen to that here: http://prolifepodcast.net/2013/10/181/

      I’m open to using “preborn,” as long as it doesn’t beg the question and as long as it’s seen as a neutral term to a pro-choice person when we start the conversation. That’s my goal: use a neutral term until I’ve made my case the the human being in the womb is valuable. I suspect that “unborn” sounds more neutral than “preborn,” which is the main reason I haven’t used it very often.

    • Rivka

      Preborn means birth will actually take place. Sadly, for the aborted, that will never be.

  • Acyutananda

    “Some abortions are very necessary. Maybe you did the right thing. Let’s not talk about you in particular. Do you think that some abortions are unjustified?”

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  • stink finger

    I would say its really none of your business, why the need to even ask her anything

  • Warren Fain

    Clinton,
    I’m not looking to be “scientifically” or even “theologically” correct. However, words do have meaning…words do carry connotations. What is the justification for using the term “unborn” when the only denotation and most common connotation is “not born?” The “unborn” stay that way in abortion. When a “preborn” child dies by abortion, by definition/connotation something terrible has happened–the preborn child did not achieve the intended destination–BIRTH !!
    When an “unborn” child dies by abortion, his/her status is still “unborn.” When a “preborn” dies by abortion, she is no longer “preborn”; she remains forever “unborn.” That alone should make us want to use prenatal or preborn, etc., to describe life in the womb.
    When I say that I am not seeking to be “theologically” correct, I only mean that in the narrow sense of trying to come up with the perfect theological term, if even such could be found, for human life in the womb.
    I do want to communicate as much as possible about the way God sees life in the womb. He does not see that human life as only “unborn.” Passages such as Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139, clearly reveal that He is intimately involved with the developing life in the womb. If He is “weaving us together” as Psalm 139 speaks, then we are not just “unborn.” We are in fact moving on a path to birth–thus prenatal or preborn, more accurately describes God’s intention for life in the womb. That is what I desire to do in my usage with others.
    I desire to say what God’s intention is about life in the womb. God’s intent is that every human pregnancy (short of natural miscarriage due to the Fall and its effects) result in the birth of a human being, made in His image. Ruth 4:13 tells us that “God granted her conception.” This is the Biblical position–God grants conception…He is very interested in seeing that human being progress to the point of birth, and it should be our intent to humanize and encourage the continuation of every pregnancy to birth.
    Please defend the use of such a limited term as “unborn” when so many other ways are available to affirm God’s intention for the developing child in the womb.

    Eager to hear your reply,

    Warren Fain

    • Clinton

      Warren, sorry for the delay. You didn’t respond to me directly, so I wasn’t notified of your response.

      I mean no disrespect, but if you’re not looking to be scientifically or theologically correct, you should stay out of the abortion issue. The only thing that’s going to convince pro-choice people of our position is if we use science and use it correctly. We should strive to be accurate in all of our positions. Intellectual honesty is at stake.

      Respectfully, I think you ignored most of my comment because I gave you clear reasons for why there is nothing wrong with using the term “unborn” over “preborn.” And your comment about unborn children remaining unborn in abortion is specious. When an unborn child dies, they are dead and leave the woman’s body. A child killed through abortion is no longer unborn, any more than a child who dies at five years old is still a “pre-adult.”

      You are trying to find theology where none is present. You can’t say that a child is “not merely unborn” to God, because I’ve already given clear reasons for why “unborn” is an entirely appropriate term.

      I also find your argument that God intends every conceived embryo to be born to be specious. Roughly 20-50% of conceived embryos are miscarried. Plus, you might as well say that God intends every human being to die of old age — but this is clearly false, too, as many people die as children, and many people die for their faith as children or adults. So I don’t think it’s accurate, theologically or otherwise, to claim that God intends for every conceived child to be born.

      I defended my use of the term “unborn” in my last comment and you haven’t responded to it. Conversely, I have shown how your argument is clearly false. There is nothing wrong with using the term “unborn.” Either respond to my actual statements or there’s really nothing more to be said here.

  • Warren Fain

    Clinton,

    When I say I’m not so concerned about being “theologically” or “scientifically” accurate, I don’t mean I want to be sloppy or careless in my usage. I only mean that while a term might be said to be precise theologically or precise scientifically, I want to be more than precise, I want to communicate as much meaning and reality in my usage as possible.
    Now, if my pro-choice friend objects to me using “preborn” , I will gladly abandon that usage for a term we can both agree on…and hopefully, proceed to the really important question, “What is being killed in an abortion?” If they don’t agree that any living thing is being killed in an abortion, then we start there and discuss biology and genetics, etc.
    My concern is that Christians who use the term “unborn”, especially when speaking with fellow believers, perpetuate the general cultural attitude that developing human in the womb is somehow not a full member of the human community. My simple appeal is this: since unborn only implies “not born,” and preborn implies, “meant to be born,” I see no reason, short of pro-choice objections, to not use that as my preferred usage since it generates so much more thought about the living entity in the womb.

    Now, when I say that the child in the womb is meant to be born, of course, I acknowledge that a good number of pregnancies end in miscarriage. My sister had a miscarriage and it was devastating to her. Miscarriage is only God’s will in the permissive sense that He allows disease and suffering in this fallen world, and sometimes, that means there is premature death, at every stage of human development.

    Would you say that a five-year old child, who is developing into a young adult, is intended to grow to maturity? I hope so. That doesn’t mean that some children may die prematurely due to leukemia, etc. When someone says “This child died of leukemia,” they obviously mean the normal growth of the child to adulthood was tragically interrupted by death. Or would you say that such a child was meant to be a “non-adult?” All we can truly say, Biblically, is that God allowed the child to die prematurely, and the parents prayers for the child were answered by God with a “No, he will find perfect healing in heaven.” This does not mean that it was God’s “perfect will,” for that child to die–any more than it was God’s “perfect will” for the Holocaust to occur.

    Suffering, sickness, and death are part of our fallen world. However, in the normal course of things, children conceived in the womb, progress to birth (short of natural miscarriage or untimely accident). Since abortion interrupts this normal progression, it is incumbent on us as believers in the Sanctity of Life, to do all we can to humanize the child in the womb. By calling the developing embryo or fetus, a “preborn human”, it would be entirely accurate, scientifically. More so than just an “unborn human.” Preborn, as you have noted, indicates direction. Every pregnancy, short of miscarriage or accident–or abortion, is headed for birth. So, why should we not refer to the entity in the womb as preborn? That is of course, short of an objection from a pro-choice friend, who may think we are trying to “stack the deck.”

    If in referring to Holocaust victims of the Nazis, we said that the Nazis had touched the “apple of His eye,” and other Old Testament terms referring to the nation of Israel, we would be entirely theologically correct. However, if debating some person who wanted to marginalize the Holocaust as not that significant, say an atheist who discounted the special nature of God’s chosen people, then we would begin with genetics…then maybe the Declaration of Independence, to attempt to agree on the common humanity of all who were killed in the Holocaust—of course, that would include the six million Jews and some six million other ethnicities (Poles, Slavic, Ukrainian, Gypsies, etc.). The more we can do to point out the horrible nature of the Holocaust, the better. So, if “preborn” helps remind the hearer that the developing entity in the womb is “meant to be born, and not aborted,” so much the better.

    I firmly believe that the shedding of innocent blood is the greatest evil on this earth. Numbers 35:33, Leviticus 20, Deuteronomy 21, Psalm 106; Psalm 139; Romans 13:1-6; Revelation 18:24, etc.

    Numbers 35:33 says only the blood of the one who did the killing can compensate for the blood of the innocent. I want those I am speaking with to appreciate what God says about shedding innocent blood. Would you agree that every abortion, short of directly saving a mother’s life, thus speaking of “abortion on demand,” is the shedding of innocent blood? If so, then humanizing those in the womb with terms like “prenatal child,” or “preborn human,” or “developing baby,” seem entirely appropriate and more accurate, literally speaking, than using “unborn,” which says so little…and what is so obvious.

    If I didn’t answer your objections, please re-state them and I will give it another try. My basic contention is that using “unborn” does nothing except state the obvious and should be avoided, except when discussing with someone who thinks “prenatal child,” or “preborn human,” is “stacking the deck,” or begging the question.

    I invite your response to any of the above contentions.

    Sincerely,

    Warren Fain

  • Warren Fain

    Josh,
    I agree that when discussing with a pro-choice person that we should agree on terms. If the person believes that “preborn human,” is begging the question then of course, start with a term that person is comfortable with. Of course, as you know, better than most, progressing to the question of “what is being terminated or killed in the abortion?” If she acknowledges that a living human is being terminated, that normally, short of miscarriage or accident, would lead to birth, then you proceed from there to attempt to define the value of that human being.

    I actually am more concerned with fellow Christians who don’t seem to realize what the reality of abortion really is. That’s why when I am with other believers, I use the term “preborn.” It is more accurate, says more, and makes them usually, do a “double-take,” such as, “Oh, yeah, I see, the child in the womb is more than just “unborn,” she is meant to be born, as far as God is concerned (meaning that it is not God’s will for us to intentionally interrupt a pregnancy, except to directly save a mother’s life), and that abortion-on-demand is out of the question.

    Is there a way to directly support your ministry? Please send me an envelope with address of the group you work for. I can send them a donation to help support your work, I would like to think?

    My address is: Warren and Martha Fain, 6577–# 5, E. Camino Vista, Anaheim, 92807.
    All His best to your and family.

    The Lord is risen !!

    Warren Fain

    P.S. Someone once said, “Abortion will end in the U.S., once the
    Church of Jesus Christ decides it should end.” Would you agree that until the church is mobilized in the various pro-life ministry areas (community, social, educational, political, etc.) that we will continue to see abortion-on-demand?

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