PODCAST: How Should Pro-Life Advocates Talk about That “13 Reasons Why” Abortion Episode?

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Rachel Crawford and I discuss the abortion episode in the third season of “13 Reasons Why,” how it misrepresents the pro-life movement, and what pro-life people ought to say when they hear people bring it up.

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ERI Statement on the Abortion Subplot in Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why”

Netflix recently published the third season of 13 Reasons Why, a show whose first two seasons were criticized for aiming graphic, mature content at a young intended audience. In the second episode of the third season, there is an abortion subplot that misrepresents the pro-life movement and sidewalk counseling so severely that it can only be described as propaganda. The character seeking an abortion first goes to a deceptive pregnancy resource center she believes is an abortion facility and then in another scene goes to the abortion facility and is met by a group of deceptive anti-abortion protestors.

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The primary scene we want to comment on is the scene at the abortion facility. It depicts a harmful caricature of the reality of sidewalk counseling and could be no further from what ERI teaches in the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass. The abortion-minded woman is met by a group of Christians when she arrives at the clinic. They call out to her asking her to pray with them and telling her God loves her and her baby. Then a woman approaches her wearing an orange vest labeled “Clinic Escort” and she says, “Come on, let’s walk past the crazies,” and clearly acts like she is with the abortion clinic, not the Christian group. The pregnant woman’s boyfriend says to her, “This day is hard enough” to which the woman in the vest responds, “It should be hard. Killing is a sin.” In this moment the pregnant woman realizes that she has been deceived by the woman in the vest, who is actually one of the protestors in disguise. Then, the fake escort says “Take this” and puts a bloody fetal model in the abortion-minded woman’s hand and pleads with her to not go through with the abortion. 

This is not at all representative of sidewalk counseling. We have worked with many sidewalk counselors across the United States as well as pro-life organizations who train sidewalk counselors, and we can say with confidence that deception of abortion-minded women is openly condemned. In our own training course, we instruct sidewalk counselors who wear vests for their safety because of incoming traffic to always try to choose a vest that is a different color of any escorts who are at the clinic. The vests that we will be selling online for the safety of pro-life advocates say “Pregnancy Resource Advocate” with the purpose of distinguishing them from the abortion facility because we believe it is wrong and harmful to deceive the abortion-minded person into thinking we are a clinic escort. 

Sidewalk counseling is not about protesting abortion or shaming women coming to the clinic. It is about offering information and resources to those who would like to make a different choice.

Bringing Some Clarity to the Shooting of Marshae Jones Story

I’ve spent the last hour reading various stories about the Marshae Jones case, and I’d like to try to provide a few facts worth noting, since rarely did any of the stories include all of them. Mainstream media outlets are clearly jumping on the story and being flagrantly misleading with their headlines; pro-choice groups are jumping at the chance to accuse Alabama of being racist and wanting to prosecute pregnant women for abortions; and at least one pro-life group has tried to help but provided some faulty thought experiments.

So, let’s get some facts on the table and try to think well about this tragic story.

Fact #1: Marshae Jones, the mother, was the aggressor in this fight, not the shooter.

Marshae Jones. Photograph: Reuters

Marshae Jones. Photograph: Reuters

You certainly wouldn’t know this from the headlines, but virtually every news story agrees on the fact that Jones, with three of her friends, attacked Ebony Jemison while she was on a lunch break at work with three of her friends. Jones seems to have initiated the fight because she was jealous about Jemison’s interaction with Jones’s boyfriend. All three of them worked at the same place, Jones suspected something was going on, and convinced three of her friends to accompany her to initiate a fight with Jemison.

Fact #2: Marshae Jones knew she was 5 months pregnant when she attacked Ebony Jemison.

This isn’t a case where a mother didn’t know that she was pregnant and then had a miscarriage. She was late into her 2nd trimester, and yet initiated a serious physical confrontation with another woman and three of her friends.

Fact #3: Ebony Jemison fired a warning shot in self-defense, and the bullet ricocheted off the ground and hit Jones.

Jemison wasn’t trying to hit Jones. She claims that she was afraid, (and it seems, reasonably so) and fired a warning shot at the ground hoping it would get Jones and her friends to back off. In a horrible and very unlikely coincidence, that bullet hit the ground and then ricocheted and hit Jones in the stomach.

INTERVIEW: How To Start Pro-Life Conversations the Right Way

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.

Questions:

  • 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?

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Free Webinar on 5/29: Reacting to Pro-Choice Memes

Are you pro-life? Then your social media timeline has probably been filled with angry pro-choice posts and memes lately. Do you sometimes wonder how best to respond to the arguments in these statuses? Then this webinar is for you!

Josh Brahm and Rachel Crawford from Equal Rights Institute will go through some of the most popular pro-choice memes and systematically refute them, showing you the most important points to make about each if you’re discussing them with someone who is pro-abortion-choice. They will also offer some practical tips for debating pro-choice people online in this moment in history when pro-choice people are more afraid of Roe v Wade being overturned and angry at pro-life people than ever before.

Afterward, they will respond to YOUR questions and offer a special discount for the Equipped for Life Course!

Registration required to get access to the live webinar and the replay: SAVE YOUR SEAT