4 Reasons Why Your “Pro-Life” Friend May Not Care About Abortion (1 of 4)

I was talking with a Life Report fan recently about one of her family members who claims to be pro-life, but doesn’t care very much about abortion. I suspect this is a relatively common thing and can be very confusing for pro-life people who believe that the unborn child is fully human and worthy of legal protection. I offered her four possible explanations why somebody who claims to be “pro-life” may not care about abortion very much. I suspect that you know at least one person that would fall under each of these categories, and I want you to have some tools for engaging each of them.

Here’s the full list, but I’ll only discuss the first one today to keep the length of the blog post down. I’ll finish the rest in the next two weeks. Make sure you’ve subscribed to my email list to be alerted when new posts show up.

  1. She is pro-life, but falsely thinks that all social issues are equal.
  2. She is pro-life but thinks that other social issues are more important than abortion.
  3. She only thinks the unborn are semi-valuable, like a golden retriever.
  4. She believes that while the unborn are fully human, abortion shouldn’t be made illegal because of women’s bodily autonomy rights.

#1: She is pro-life, but falsely thinks that all social issues are equal

When I use the term “pro-life” here, I mean that this person truly believes that the unborn is a valuable human being, and thinks that the unborn should be legally protected.

A lot of people have bought into the lie that all social issues are equally important. I think some of this is a mutation of the “consistent life ethic” that Catholic Cardinal Joseph Bernardin wrote about and the idea of the “seamless garment” that Roman Catholic pacifist Eileen Egan first spoke of. Their view was that pro-lifers should consistently value life, and that it was inconsistent to be against abortion but for other things like capital punishment and euthanasia. I haven’t read enough of their original writings on the subject to determine whether either of them actually thought that all life-related issues deserved equal attention, but even if they didn’t, a lot of people now believe in the idea that all issues deserve equal attention, and they frequently use the phrase “seamless garment” to defend their view.

I don’t think it takes very much reflection to realize that not all issues deserve equal attention. I remember after a pro-life speech in Georgia in 2006 being asked by a Catholic attendee why I wasn’t spending equal amounts of time fighting abortion and capital punishment.

I graciously responded, “assuming that capital punishment is equally evil, there’s a very good reason why I wouldn’t spend 50% of my time fighting it. Do you know how many executions have taken place in Georgia since 1976?”

Him: “No, I don’t.”

Me: “39. Do you know how many abortions have taken place in Georgia since yesterday?”

Him: “No.”

Me: “83. They’re not equal. If we wanted to spend more time discussing it we could also talk about whether it’s equally wrong for a government to use a legal system for executing the worst convicted felons in the country and for doctors to legally dismember innocent babies, but I don’t even have to go there to make my case that these two issues are not deserving of equal attention. I’m going to focus most of my effort on abortion, partially because that’s how the greatest number of people are being killed without justification.”

Notice what I’m not arguing here: I’m not saying that capital punishment is justified. I’m actually a Protestant guy who is very uncomfortable with the death penalty, albeit primarily for pragmatic reasons. I think it’s still possible to execute innocent people, and I’m very concerned about that. I also think there are some strong principled objections to the death penalty that may cause me to be even more opposed to capital punishment later, but the pragmatic arguments are enough for me until the justice system is improved.

The point is not whether capital punishment is wrong. The point is that even if capital punishment IS wrong, it doesn’t necessarily deserve as much time and resources to fighting it as abortion, because the numbers matter.

Dialogue Tip: If one of your friends believes that all issues are equal, I would recommend that you ask him or her this question: “Assuming that abortion and capital punishment are equally wrong, knowing that 1.2 million abortions take place every year in this country compared to an average of 52 executions a year in the last ten years, could we agree that more energy should be spent fighting abortion than capital punishment?”

Update 6/18/13: Edited the second to last paragraph that’s in italics for clarity.

Question: Do you have a friend that believes all social issues are equal? How have you responded to him or her? What are some other arguments that might convince him or her that abortion is more evil than some other social issues? Leave your response or story in the comments below!


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 has worked in the pro-life movement since he was 18. A sought-after speaker, Josh has spoken for more than 23,000 people in six countries and in 22 of the 50 states.

Josh’s primary passion is helping pro-life people to be more persuasive when they communicate with pro-choice people. That means ditching faulty rhetoric and tactics and embracing arguments that hold up under philosophical scrutiny.

He has publicly debated leaders from Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Georgians for Choice, and one of the leading abortion facilities in Atlanta.

Josh also wants to bring relational apologetics to the pro-life movement. “Some pro-choice people will not change their mind after one conversation on a college campus. Some of them will only change their mind after dozens of conversations with a person they trust in the context of friendship.”

Josh is formerly the host of a globally-heard podcast turned radio/TV show, Life Report. He now hosts the Equipped for Life Podcast. He’s also written dozens of articles for LifeNews.com and the ERI blog.

He directed the first 40 Days for Life campaign in Fresno, resulting in up to 60 lives saved.

Josh has been happily married to his wife, Hannah, for 15 years. They have three sons, Noah, William, and Eli. They live in Charlotte, North Carolina.

David Bereit, the National Director of 40 Days for Life, sums up Josh’s expertise this way: “Josh Brahm is one of the brightest, most articulate, and innovative people in the pro-life movement. His cutting-edge work is helping people think more clearly, communicate more effectively, and — most importantly — be better ambassadors for Christ. I wholeheartedly endorse Josh’s work, and I encourage you to join me in following Josh and getting involved in his work today!”

Please note: The goal of the comments section on this blog is simply and unambiguously to promote productive dialogue. We reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, disrespectful, flagrantly uncharitable, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read our Comments Policy.