Top 5 ERI Articles of 2019

I found the top 5 articles by checking the Google Analytics for the ERI blog, instead of complicating the process by incorporating stats from, where many of our articles are later republished. (We didn’t do this annual post last year because we had lost two months of analytics due to a technical issue we were unaware of at the time, so we had no way to accurately rank all of the pieces. Luckily that issue is fixed!)

Our blog received 96,622 unique pageviews from more than 44,402 unique people this year.

On to the list!

The Five Most Read New Articles This Year:

#5: How to Help People Talk Themselves Out of Abortion

This is one of the most surprising things I learned from Jacob Nels about sidewalk counseling while we were creating the content for the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass. It’s also incredibly encouraging for people who are worried about saying the wrong thing.

Top 10 ERI Accomplishments of 2019

In case you missed our fundraising letter, let me break down the top 10 ERI accomplishments of 2019:

  1. Finishing the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass, an online course training pro-life advocates to effectively save lives in front of abortion facilities. The course includes 14 lessons (making up about 6 hours of content), a workbook with organized notes, easy to follow step-by-step instructions, FAQ’s, and 40 practical tips. It also includes access to a private Facebook group where students can interact with our staff and each other. The course has only been out for a few months but we already have 267 people enrolled in the course!
  2. Scripting, filming, and editing a 90-minute extension of the Equipped for Life Course, our most advanced philosophical material yet, and one that answers certain top pro-choice arguments in a persuasive way that every day pro-life advocates can use in real conversations.
  3. Launching a public version of the Equipped for Life Podcast. This is the roundtable podcast that was previously an exclusive for members of the Equipped for Life Course. We decided earlier this year to move most of those episodes into a public feed for two reasons: to make it more convenient for our course students to access the podcast, and to expose more pro-life advocates to our training content. Rachel and I will continue to create regular podcasts next year, covering current events, pro-life philosophy, and answers to listener questions. We will continue creating these new episodes with both video and audio options, as can be seen in the last three podcast episodes we published.
  4. This year our philosophy team decided to make a change in the way we respond to certain pro-choice bodily autonomy arguments. It’s a big shift for us, but one of the core values at Equal Rights Institute is to be flexible and innovative, and we felt like this change would be more persuasive to pro-choice students. We published this change in a video titled “Blood Donation and Bodily Rights Arguments” which you can watch at We’re honored that our good friends at Justice For All have made the same change as us and are playing that video in their seminars now. It was even more encouraging when the student club at St. Olaf College informed us that they tried both methods a lot on their campus and also found our new approach to be FAR more persuasive to the pro-choice students they’re talking to.
  5. Setting up our new video/podcast studio. We researched and purchased most of the video equipment we use last year in preparation for filming the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass, but it was the summer of 2019 before we got into our new office space that had room for a video/podcast studio. Thanks to guidance from our rockstar volunteer Tony Johnson and some assistance from local apologist Tim Hull, we got everything set up and functioning and have been using the studio since. It’s been incredible to be able to walk in there and within 20-minutes be filming already. It’s so much more efficient than how we were filming before, and we have big plans for the studio next year!
  6. We hosted a live webinar titled “Reacting to Pro-Choice Memes: Responding to Snark with a Winning Argument that resulted in a 7,000-word resource on our blog with prewritten responses to 12 common categories of pro-choice memes! You can find that resource at If you’re a member of the Equipped for Life Course, you can also watch that webinar in our new Webinar Archive which also includes several of our other previous webinars.
  7. ERI earned GuideStar’s 2019 Platinum Seal of Transparency by adding information to our Nonprofit Profile, including some of the metrics we track to indicate the progress toward our goals. You can take a look at our GuideStar profile anytime by going to which will redirect you to their website. As far as we can tell, we are one of only two national pro-life organizations that have accomplished this.
  8. Doubled our hours (49) consulting with pro-life leaders this year, including some of the most influential leaders in Ireland! This is a thing that we have been doing behind the scenes without talking about it very much, although we only began carefully tracking it these last few years. I knew when we started ERI that I wanted us to be consultants for the pro-life movement. I’m happy to say that we have been doing that, and the results have been very rewarding.
  9. Partnering with the new pro-life director of the Atlanta Archdiocese, Joey Martineck. He first became pro-life at a speech I gave to his youth group more than 10 years before! He’s a big fan of ERI and brainstormed with us on how to help the Respect Life chapters in his area to grow in their effectiveness. Jacob and I have since spoken for several of these chapters, and Joey continues to reach out to us to connect us with various pro-life leaders who are asking questions about pro-life work.
  10. This year we increased in every metric that we track except for one predictable exception. The exception is our podcast downloads, which were down 29%, but we knew that was coming because we purposefully took about a year off from podcasting, in order to dedicate the necessary staff resources to the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass to get it finished. We expect to see those downloads go right back up next year. Here are our other metrics, as compared to the previous year:
    • Speech attendees: 0.57% increase (This is basically the same. Thanks to the 23 people who bumped this stat up a little.)
    • YouTube views: 148% increase.
    • Course students enrolled: 69% increase.
    • Blog – Unique readers: +139%. This is the most surprising one to me. I think this is a result of several current events pieces that did well as well as us posting our “evergreen” pieces more consistently on Facebook, where some people discovered them for the first time.
    • Pro-life leaders consulted with: 91% increase.
    • Hours of consulting: 81% increase.
    • Facebook post engagement: 57% increase.
    • Facebook organic reach: 1,208% increase!
    • We also decreased our cost to reach a pro-life advocate with our training material from $5.16/person to $2.84/person, a 45% decrease! (That’s the kind of decrease we want to see!)

We had an incredibly successful year, and we need your help to make next year better. Would you partner with us by giving at Every $2.84 helps us to train one pro-life advocate with our content!

Advanced Extension Added to the Equipped for Life Course!

We have added eight new lesson videos to the Equipped for Life Course that will help you take the pro-life defense of fetal personhood to the next level. This 90-minute module is the result of a four-year research project that our philosophy team has been working on behind the scenes. In these videos, we teach an advanced version of the Equal Rights Argument that gives a philosophically thorough explanation as to why human embryos should be considered valuable persons with serious moral status.

Become an Equipped for Life member today:

An Overview of the Lessons:

  • Lesson 1: Sometimes You Need an Advanced Argument – We explain why seasoned pro-life advocates should have the second version of the Equal Rights Argument in their tool belt for abortion dialogues, even though the first version is more straight-forward and easier to understand.
  • Lesson 2: The Problem – We identify the problem of a simplified argument, even though it is more straight-forward and easy to understand and show why some people will need a more sophisticated explanation of personhood.
  • Lesson 3: Higher-Order Capacities – We introduce a hierarchical system of capacities that provides a philosophically precise understanding of potential.
  • Lesson 4: Moral Agency – We argue that moral agency is fundamental for serious moral status and that other possible explanations, such as rationality and others that pro-choice people use in the original Equal Rights Argument, don’t work.
  • Lesson 5: Responding to the Critics: Tooley’s Cat – We respond to the strongest objection to our claims about personhood made by pro-choice philosophers like Michael Tooley, David Boonin, and Jeff McMahan. We also address what philosophers call “marginal cases” and answer why we think it is philosophically consistent to say that children with anencephaly are valuable people, too.
  • Lesson 6: What about Imago Dei? – We consider the biblical argument that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God as an alternative to our approach.
  • Lesson 7: Review – We summarize these lessons for quick reference later.
  • Lesson 8: Example Dialogues – We provide three example dialogues for you to see how both versions of the Equal Rights Argument could be used in real-time.

ERI Update – November 2019

Download Audio MP3 | 00:22:53

I recently sat in our new studio to give you an update on what’s been going on behind the scenes at Equal Rights Institute. There are a lot of visuals in this video, so it’s best watched instead of listened to on the podcast, but both are available.


  • 01:14 – New studio;
  • 03:55 – Tim’s resignation;
  • 05:01 – New Director of Training and behind the scenes of the new Equipped for Life extension;
  • 07:25 – Launch of the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass;
  • 11:29 – Encouraging testimonies from the Protect Life Michigan conference;
  • 13:49 – Relaunching the Equipped for Life Podcast into a free, public feed;
  • 18:42 – Our plans to make a bigger impact at the next March for Life.

Testimonials from the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass:

“I would absolutely recommend this course to anyone wanting to get involved in sidewalk counseling. Before watching the course, sidewalk counseling seemed like an intimidating thing that should be left to others more knowledgeable and gifted. After watching this course, I feel very confident that I could get out there and do it.” – Jessica

“This course has real-life lessons from seasoned sidewalk counselors. I appreciated so much that they not only make suggestions of what to do, but also shared their own mistakes and what they have learned. It’s paced such that you don’t need any experience in sidewalk counseling to follow it. The training is incredibly practical—- seriously, this course will be some of the best money you ever spend! – Laura

I found myself making exclamations out loud! I was totally drawn to the reasonings and stories. I felt I could finally put a finger on things that were wrong with my previous experience. I felt inspired to just go back out there (it’s been a year). I am sure that if the material was presented in a teaching format, I could not have processed everything in a personal way. When one video ended, I wanted to just see what was next on the next video.” – Debra

Related Links:

  • Click here to learn more about the Equipped for Life Course
  • Click here to learn more about the Sidewalk Counseling Masterclass
  • Click here to donate to Equal Rights Institute