Principle #5

“Any open-minded person should be disgusted whenever people try to silence their political opposition. I’m almost never disgusted with pro-choice people. I honestly think most of them mean well, but suffer from a combination of self-deception, flawed reasoning, and difficult emotional experiences. But I become truly angry when anyone attempts to shield himself and others from hearing arguments against his view by preventing his opposition from speaking.”

For more of the context of this quotation, click here to read the full article, “Six Ways I’ve Seen Pro-Choice People Try to Censor Pro-Lifers.” http://bit.ly/2vhr8ib

PODCAST: Five Lessons for Pro-Lifers from the Women’s March

Download Audio MP3 | 00:12:52

When the first Women’s March happened in 2017, I was a senior in College. I was taking women’s studies classes, so I was surrounded by people who were promoting, organizing, and going to the Women’s March. I felt immersed in that culture, and it was a really interesting experience for me.

This post, inspired by that experience, takes that Women’s March and pro-choice activism and looks at what pro-life advocates can learn from what they did right and discusses what we should do differently.

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Matt Walsh and Bodily Autonomy Arguments

If pro-life advocates want to help pro-choice people change their minds about abortion, then they must understand arguments about bodily autonomy and how to respond to them in a persuasive way. In his recent video, How To Destroy The “Best” Reproductive Rights Argument, Matt Walsh draws attention to these types of arguments, explains that they are critical to the modern pro-choice position, and then lists his five problems with how bodily autonomy arguments attempt to justify abortion.

At Equal Rights Institute our staff has collectively had thousands and thousands of conversations with lay pro-choice people on college campuses in the United States, and these experiences have helped us understand what typical pro-choice people actually mean by when they make easily misunderstood statements. While Walsh is right to respond to bodily rights arguments directly and he makes some good responses, he also gives responses that are based on the same understandable mistakes that most pro-life people make.

Screenshot from Matt Walsh YouTube video response to bodily autonomy arguments

Image source: YouTube

Bodily Autonomy Misconceptions

Pro-choice arguments from bodily autonomy are extremely confusing for many pro-life advocates because there is a profound cultural gap between pro-life and pro-choice people. We don’t just disagree about premises in our arguments; our whole mindset on the issue is radically different. Pro-life people are naturally inclined to focus the conversation on the baby while pro-choice people focus their attention to the woman. Sometimes this causes pro-life people to misunderstand pro-choice arguments and assume that everything comes down to the personhood of the unborn. Walsh correctly explains that this is a problem because that is not the only piece of the debate. He wants pro-life advocates to understand that there is another way to defend the pro-choice position in the abortion debate, and he wants us to understand how to refute it. He explains that personhood, while critical to understanding the immorality of abortion, is not what is driving many abortion conservations when we talk with pro-choice people. When pro-choice people bring up bodily autonomy, they are not attempting to refute the pro-life personhood argument.

Walsh goes on to describe an argument that personhood begins when the mother decides. In other words, the argument claims that because a woman has bodily autonomy she should be allowed to decide if and when her unborn child should be considered a valuable person. He goes on to explain the metaphysical absurdity of an argument like this because it claims that the mother has some “supernatural ability to grant and resend humanity to or from her child.” This argument is so bizarre and fringe that it does not play a role in ordinary bodily rights conversations. The vast majority of pro-choice people do not actual use arguments like this one. While our staff has seen this type of reasoning on very rare occasions, it is confusing and unhelpful to pro-life people to tell them that it is a major part of the bodily rights debate. I fear it will cause them to expect to find it and wrongfully interpret other, more reasonable pro-choice statements as being indicative of the weird, fringe argument.

Pro-lifers, this is a strawman. Click here to understand why.

In his first of five points, Walsh responds to the pro-choice slogan “My Body, My Choice” by saying, “It’s not your body, your body is not the body at issue here. The issue is the child’s body, not yours.” This incredibly common pro-life response to bodily rights arguments is based on a critical misunderstanding of what most pro-choice people mean when they use that slogan. They are not saying that the child’s body is the same as the woman’s body, nor are they saying that the human fetus is somehow biologically part of the woman’s body. They are saying that the human fetus’ body affects and is inside what is indisputably the woman’s body. By “my body,” they are referring to cells with the mother’s DNA, not cells with the human fetus’ DNA. This misunderstanding often causes well meaning pro-life people to unintentionally strawman pro-choice people. Read this article for a more thorough explanation of this common problem.

COURSE PODCAST CLIP: Practical Tips for Talking with Post-Abortive Women

Every other Wednesday we publish a new episode of the Equipped for Life Podcast, available to everyone who purchases our course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations about Abortion.” Generally, these podcast episodes won’t be available to the general public, but we plan on releasing short clips from the episodes every Thursday, to give you a sense of what these podcasts are like.

In this episode of the Equipped for Life Course Podcast, Rachel interviews Lori Navrodtzke, a Pregnancy Resource Center counselor and Justice For All volunteer, about how to dialogue with people about abortion if they’ve already had one.

Download Audio MP3 | 00:07:50

In this clip, Rachel and Lori discuss how to proceed in a conversation if someone does not admit to having had a personal abortion experience. They also give some examples of how to let people know about post-abortive healing, even if they don’t feel like they need it at this time.

Click here to subscribe to the ERI podcast in iTunes.