Responding to the Question of Rape with Wisdom and Compassion

This article is an expanded version of my first “Life Lessons with Josh” column in Life Matters Journal, in which I answer questions from LMJ’s readers. This reader asked for help responding to the question of rape:

One of the most common questions I get about being pro-life is “But what if the mother was raped?” I stand for all life, even life that was created through rape or any other difficult situation. How can I explain that to a pro-choicer in such a way that I don’t come across as callous or uncaring about the mother’s situation?

~ Troubled in Tuscaloosa

I love the way this question is worded. You clearly care about showing that you don’t only care about the child, but that you rightly care for the survivor of rape as well. Many pro-life people don’t communicate that very well when they talk about rape. They come across as if they have something we call Fetus Tunnel Vision.” I think the question of rape is the most common example of this. Immediately we say, “The child’s right to life shouldn’t be dependent on how it was conceived!” I agree with that, but who does this skip? The mother.

My friend Steve Wagner at Justice For All has made a huge impact on the way I think about how pro-life people should respond to rape. He says:

When a pro-choice person brings up the issue of rape, they’re not terribly concerned at that point if the unborn is human. They want to find out whether you’re human.

Can you see how horrible rape is? If not, please don’t tell people you’re pro-life. I’ve trained people before who understood the definition of rape, but they didn’t understand what rape is. There are other pro-lifers who cannot hear the word “rape” and let themselves acknowledge how horrible rape is because they feel like they’re losing debate points or time. There’s too much of that out there and it’s hurting our movement.

So, here’s what we should do instead. We should first acknowledge the horror of rape.

When a Hypothetical Story Isn’t Hypothetical After All

Sometimes when I talk about abortion with strangers, it feels like I’ve already had that conversation before, because they’re making familiar statements. But the truth is, I haven’t had that conversation before, because I haven’t heard that statement from that person before. Even though some statements are very common, different people mean very different things by them. A recent conversation I had with a hotel shuttle driver named “Mark” reminded me that while I may have heard the same words before, I hadn’t heard his story before. I think there’s a lesson you can learn from this situation that will help you have better dialogues with pro-choice people.

Photo Credit: Prayitn via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Prayitn via Compfight cc

I was in town to speak at a conference when Mark picked me up, and after we exchanged some pleasantries, he asked me what I do for a living.

VIDEO: 6 Practical Tips for Having Good Dialogues

My speech from the 2015 Students for Life of America conference in D.C. has been posted! These are six practical tips for having good dialogues with pro-choice people.

Six practical tips for having good dialogues:

  1. Silence your inner monologue.
  2. Rephrase what they said.
  3. Find genuine common ground when possible.
  4. Acknowledge the horror of rape.
  5. Be intentional with your body language.
  6. Be willing to jump to another topic.

Resources:

Top 5 JoshBrahm.com Posts of 2014

Yup, it’s that time of year where every blog does “top X posts of 2014,” so without further ado, here are the most visited articles I’ve published this year.

I created this list using the Google Analytics for my own site, instead of complicating the process by incorporating stats from LifeNews.com, where many of my articles are later republished.

My blog received over 71,000 unique pageviews from more than 28,000 unique people this year. That’s a 400% increase from last year, albeit the blog was only live since June, 2013.

I think I would have done even better if I had managed to stay consistent in the last half of this year, but successfully launching a national pro-life training organization and maintaining a consistent blog presence became mutually exclusive. Thanks for your patience with me as I temporarily slowed down my writing to make my dream organization become a reality.

On to the list!

E-mail concept on white background. Isolated 3D image#5: What to Say to Someone Who Says “I Wish I Had Been Aborted”

This was a response to a question from a reader and includes a story about a dialogue I had in front of Planned Parenthood. The thing I like most about this piece is the distinction between the suicidal-sounding version of this pro-choice statement, “I wish I had been aborted,” and the consistent version, “I wish my mom had had the right to abort me.” I believe the latter is what most pro-choice people mean when they say this, and clarifying what they actually mean will make a world of difference in whether you respond effectively or not.

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

This one is a response to one of the most challenging things a pro-choice person can say to a pro-life advocate. I offer what I would say, as well as explain the right/wrong vs. wise/foolish distinction that may be helpful in that conversation.

#3: The Biology Professor Who Hated Our Outreach Exhibit

I was very surprised at how well this post did. I wasn’t very excited to write it. It was just another story from campus, and I wrote it at a time where I was more interested in making substantive points and not just telling stories. I didn’t do anything that unique or interesting (to me) in response to the hostile biology professor in the story, but a ton of people who don’t frequent my blog read this post. I suspect that some people who don’t frequent my blog clicked on it because they thought it would be a “pro-life smart guy makes a pro-choice guy look like an idiot” post, which it really wasn’t. They seem to have gotten sucked into it though because I saw a lot of comments online from people saying that want to learn how to talk about abortion this way, which was very gratifying.

#2: 4 Reasons Pro-Lifers Need to Stop Doing This

Ah, the infamous Fetus Tunnel Vision piece. This may be my favorite blog post I’ve ever written, because the content is very unique to something my brother Tim and I have talked about, and I think it’s very needed if our movement is going to show the world that we care about all people, and not just unborn babies. That gives you the credibility to talk to people who wouldn’t listen to certain other pro-life people.

There was a lot of debate regarding this topic, so I wrote two followup pieces answering the most common challenges.

I credit part of the success of this post to my friends at Students for Life of America who frequently tweet it to their followers and even discuss the topic in their trainings with college students across the country!

#1: Understanding What Richard Dawkins Actually Believes About Abortion and Down Syndrome

It was almost a tie for first place but my commentary on Richard Dawkins’ tweet about Down Syndrome was the most visited article from 2014. Tim and I worked really hard on this piece and watching the results the following day made for one of the most fulfilling days I’ve had since I launched Equal Rights Institute. I blogged about what happened here, including Richard Dawkins himself retweeting the article and several pro-choice people commenting that this was the most careful and rational piece they had seen from either side of the abortion debate regarding Dawkins’ tweet.

That’s the list! Thanks again for following my blog during the most exciting and most terrifying year of my life, and I’m truly humbled by the gracious feedback I’ve received from most of you.

For the rest of you, I’m looking forward to more open-minded dialogue about the philosophical issues surrounding abortion in the months to come. :)

Merry Christmas!

Brahm2014