The Anonymous Pro-Life Volunteer Who Changed My Life

CBR’s GAP display at UGA. Used with permission.

In 2004 an arrogant pro-life high school student attended a pro-life outreach at the University of Georgia. When he learned that the Center for Bioethical Reform was going to set up large signs with abortion images that day, the arrogant student saw it as an opportunity for him to put his studying to good use.

That morning he totally out-debated any pro-choice people willing to talk to him. The arrogant student wasn’t too obnoxious, because he was intelligent enough to know that he had to come across as sympathetic in order to accomplish his very clear objective: winning the arguments.

At lunchtime the arrogant student sat down with a few volunteers he hadn’t met before and they made light conversation about their experiences. The arrogant student commented that he couldn’t believe some of the things these “crazies” said. A wise volunteer very gently responded, “If you’re thinking of them as crazies, haven’t you already kind of lost?”

Pro-Lifers Aren’t “Forcing” Women to Stay Pregnant

Image: Man forcing a woman to do something.

Pro-choice advocates constantly describe the intentions of pro-lifers with the word “force.” “Pro-lifers want to force women to stay pregnant, force them to have babies, force them to go through pregnancy, force them to be a parent.” All of these statements are common, and all of them are false.

The word force implies a threat. It implies violence. It implies aggression. It’s a tragic irony given that the aggression, violence, and threatening behavior doesn’t come from pro-lifers, it comes from doctors killing babies.

The pro-life position is simple: you don’t get to kill people, very young embryos are people, so you don’t get to kill embryos. It’s very straightforward.

It is true that by saying “don’t kill the embryo,” other things naturally follow from that, such as “go through pregnancy, give birth, and either raise the child or give him to someone else who will.” But that isn’t the same as forcing someone to do these things.

If it sounds to you like I’m just playing semantical games, consider the following case:

How to Turn the Tables on Four Pro-Choice Arguments

Imagine you and a good friend decide to play a game of chess. As you sit down, your friend takes your queen off the board and puts it back in the box with no explanation. You say, “Uh, what are you doing?” Your friend replies, completely unironically, “Only I’m allowed to have a queen. You’re playing white, I’m playing black, so you get to go first. It basically evens out.” Inexplicably, he genuinely believes that giving his side of the board an extremely unfair advantage is actually fair, and he has managed to rationalize to himself that it’s fair.

Turn the Tables

How would you convince him that it gives the black side too much advantage? I’d just rotate the board 180 degrees and tell him, “Okay, if you think it’s really fair to both sides that whoever gets to go first doesn’t get a queen, I’ll just play black now. Your move.”

I think of this as forced empathy. In the analogy, your friend isn’t doing a good job of fairly evaluating the relative advantages of going first and having a queen. By turning the tables, you force him to get into your shoes and respond to his own arguments. You could tell him, “Hey, I know it might seem tough to not have a queen, but you get to go first, you get all the initiative, so just make good use of it and you’ll overcome the problem of not having a queen.”

Forcing someone to argue against their own unfair arguments is the most efficient way to help someone to realize that their arguments are actually unfair.

Many, many pro-choice arguments are actually unfair arguments. They’re cheating. They’re giving the pro-choice person an unfair advantage in the conversation. The problem is that oftentimes they don’t know they’re cheating. These arguments are often driven by unfair rhetoric that the pro-choice person has actually bought into.

People become emotionally attached to rhetoric. They hear a vacuous phrase and it just clicks. It feels so right to them. In order for them to change their minds, they need more than just a counter-argument. They need to understand that their rhetoric is empty. The best way to do this is to rotate the table 180 degrees and make them get into your shoes.

Here are four examples of unfair pro-choice rhetoric, and the ways I turn the tables.

PODCAST: Six Ways I’ve Seen Pro-Choice People Try to Censor Pro-Lifers

Download Audio MP3 | 00:13:14

Censorship is at its strongest when it is hidden in the shadows, so I share six experiences where I have seen attempts to censor pro-life people.

Related Links:

  • Click here to read about how ERI uses graphic abortion images in our brochure and why.
  • Click here to read an incredibly effective and persuasive way to respond to the “you’re a man” objection.
  • Click here to understand why the pro-life movement is not responsible for Robert Lewis Dear’s shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood facility.

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Sometimes It’s Not about the Argument

There’s a stereotypical story of married couples that you’re probably familiar with. The wife has had a bad day, so she goes to her husband to tell him about it. Her husband, being wired to fix problems, shows his love to his wife by offering solutions. The wife gets frustrated. Why is she frustrated? Because she doesn’t want her problems fixed! She wants sympathy! Click on the video below for a short, hilarious example of this stereotype.

Part of the stereotype is that the desire to have your feelings affirmed is a “woman thing,” but it’s really not. It’s a human thing. No one wants to be perceived as stupid or irrational, so it gives us a feeling of safety when we are told that our feelings are reasonable, understandable, and even appropriate.

This year I decided to try to constantly affirm the feelings of pro-choice people in my conversations without being dishonest. It is the best change I have made to my approach to dialogue in a long time. People don’t change their minds if they feel combative instead of emotionally safe, or defensive instead of receptive. [Tweet that!] Actively affirming the pro-choice person’s feelings is an incredibly effective way to help them know that they are safe to honestly question their beliefs. For some people, I’d even go so far as to say that having their earnest, deeply held feeling acknowledged is a prerequisite to them being able to actually argue about the issue.