Pastor Dan Burrell from Life Fellowship Church invited ERI President Josh Brahm to be interviewed for a four-episode series on pro-life dialogue for their podcast, LifeTalks. This is the first episode in that series, where they discuss ERI’s dialogue style and how it contrasts with the way many pro-life advocates talk about abortion.
- 2:20: What made you decide to try a different approach to this issue than many had before?
- 7:03: What arguments and dialogue techniques do not work? What is it that we often do that doesn’t change minds?
- 10:06: What works more frequently than some of the other things?
- 14:45: How do you get into these conversations?
- 16:50: I hear a lot of questions in your approach. People often start with declarative statements. Why do questions work better?
- 18:41: People on both sides of this issue tend to talk about extreme cases like rape or sex-selection abortions. How do we keep the conversation focused on core principles?
If you don’t like it when pro-choice people dehumanize the unborn, then you have no business dehumanizing pro-choice people.
For more of the context of this quotation, click here to read the full article, “Snidely Whiplash is Not on Facebook” http://bit.ly/2GoowsO
Your social media has probably been flooded in the past few weeks with memes and people talking about the recent state bills restricting or banning abortion. Usually I discourage pro-life advocates from spending a great deal of time talking about abortion online because I think that pro-life conversations are incredibly more productive in person. However, the amount of misinformation on social media about these bills and pro-life efforts is currently so widespread that I think it has tipped the scales far enough that pro-lifers have a greater than usual responsibility to publicly refute arguments.
Last week, Josh Brahm and I hosted a webinar where we reacted to some of the most popular pro-choice memes, but there was just too much to cover in 60 minutes before we jumped into a Q&A session. Since there is some overlap in the images circulating, I have sorted the messages into 12 main categories and provided a few sample memes from each. To make your life as a pro-life advocate easier, I have provided example responses in blue font showing how I would reply if my friend posted a meme from that category.
I recommend you use my example responses as a template to work from rather than copying the response word for word. (If you do copy and paste them, you may need to use “shift+enter” to create the paragraph breaks where I have them in my examples.) You should also say something like “Hey, first name of person” before you comment because it is polite and it softens the response in a more personal way. People are people, even if they are behind a screen. In my opinion, “they say, you say” soundbite-style apologetics are usually not very persuasive, hence why we don’t teach pro-life advocates to dialogue like this way. However, when you are scrolling through social media, responding to every pro-choice meme from scratch can be utterly exhausting. Moreover, these responses are not written with the purpose of persuading the original poster; rather, they’re designed to respond to the online snark with a winning pro-life argument for the sake of other readers, so that the pro-choice position is not the only one being seen.
Click on any of the hyperlinks below to skip to that section:
- Hypocrisy Memes
- Distracting From the Issue
- You’re a Man/This is None of Your Business
- Biology 101
- Ways to Reduce Abortion Rates
- Prosecuting Women for Illegal Abortions
- The Case of Rape
- Common Ground: Memes That Misunderstand Pro-lifers
- Handmaid’s Tale Imagery
- Back Alley Abortion Arguments
- Bodily Rights Arguments
- Savita Halappanavar’s Death in Ireland
1: Hypocrisy Memes
These memes seek to point out the apparent hypocrisy of the pro-life movement. They can focus on anything from accusing pro-life people of only caring about children until birth to policing the term “pro-life” to stretch beyond the abortion debate to another issue, saying that if you were really pro-life then you would agree with them about X issue.
I want to share a thought from the pro-life perspective because I think it is important for people to consider the argument from all angles. If the pro-life philosophical arguments are true, then abortion takes the life of an innocent person. Since we are convinced of those arguments, we think that the life of the unborn child should be protected, regardless of their predicted outcome in life, just the same as we think the homeless, impoverished, or any other group of marginalized people have value and should be protected. The reason we focus on abortion is because we see it as legal killing, and, if our arguments are true, then it would be the most egregious, widespread act of violence in the history of the human race. We see it as that, and that’s why it’s our priority.
On another note, I want to push back on the charge that the pro-life position is primarily one of convenience because I don’t think it is true, especially since it is not socially popular to be pro-life. The pro-life movement has invested so much to care for pregnant mothers with counseling, free medical care, providing resources for the first few years after birth, and setting up networks that will connect them to other existing resources that will assist them, if needed, in the longer term. So, we do actually care for the child who is born beyond when it is “convenient” to do so, if it ever was. If I thought pro-life people didn’t do so, I’d be mad as well! There is also the unsettling idea that is present in the subtexts of posts like this: that if you’re not fighting for every cause then your work isn’t worth doing. I don’t see this accusation as legitimate, because if we do not have different organizations that specialize in different focus areas and everyone tries to do everything at once, we would never get anything done! The Red Cross shouldn’t focus staff time and resources to breast cancer research, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation shouldn’t focus staff time and resources on help for people devastated by hurricanes and earthquakes.
Again, it all comes back to the basis of the pro-life view, which is that abortion is the killing of innocent people with the same worth as you and I. I think that it is important for people to interact with the philosophical claims on both sides of this issue, so I would love to talk more about that. Let me know if you’d like to continue this conversation. I’d love to keep talking so feel free to message me.