My Formerly Pro-Choice Friend Now Self-Identifies as Pro-Life!

I want to bring relational apologetics to the pro-life movement. I’ve written and spoken previously about my dear friend Deanna Unyk. I’d encourage you to check out one of those two links to get the beginning of the story that I’m going to continue here. I’m so excited to tell you why Deanna now calls herself pro-life.

Meet Deanna, my good friend.

Meet Deanna, my good friend.

In case you didn’t click either of those links, Deanna was a pro-choice, atheist lesbian in Canada who befriended me in February 2013, through a YouTube message. Deanna was one of the most intelligent pro-choice bloggers I’d ever read. We exchanged nearly 120 philosophical emails, then started Skyping together.

I’m eager to share with you how my relationship with Deanna has progressed and the ways that her thinking has changed, but there’s a danger in this. It’s possible that some people would read this and interpret it as me telling you about a project of mine. It’s very important to me that you know that Deanna is not an object to me, a mind to be changed so that I can get another notch on my pro-life belt.

I have no shame in telling you that I love Deanna.

Yes, I have close friends who are girls, and if you want to know why I think it’s healthy for some Christians to have cross-sex friendships, my friend (notice I didn’t call her a colleague) Jonalyn Fincher has published some wonderful thoughts on this subject. I’ve also written on the subject here.

When I say that I love Deanna, I mean what Jason Lepojärvi means when he defined love this way:

Love says that it is good that you exist and insofar as I am able I will contribute to your happiness, your existence, your flourishing.

Some of my pro-choice friends have not changed their thinking about abortion very much, but Deanna has. I want to share with you some of the changes in her thinking. Don’t read these as the reasons I’m friends with Deanna. Deanna will always be my friend, regardless of her views on abortion, her religion or her sexuality.

A pro-choice sidewalk counselor?

Last August I knew that Deanna’s views about abortion were shifting when she asked me to Skype with her about sidewalk counseling. At this point in Deanna’s journey she thought that abortion was very immoral, but an act that should still be legal (like adultery or lying). She thought this because of her view that the unborn were fully valuable persons, but didn’t deserve legal protection because of bodily autonomy arguments. (Read or listen to my response to bodily autonomy arguments here.)

Yet Deanna believed that abortion was so wrong that she wanted to go to her local abortion facility and encourage girls not to have the abortions she thought should be legal.

Yeah, that’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard too.

Our first conversation about religion

Last December Deanna asked me for the first time why I was a Christian. She knew by now that I was an intelligent person who wouldn’t put his faith into a religion that was full of nonsense. We had a great conversation about the reasons I believe Jesus actually did walk out of His own tomb.

It wasn’t an awkward conversation at all. It was two close friends talking about one of many subjects that they are both interested in and care about.

A major change

Four months later I Skyped with Deanna and she told me that she had changed her thinking about abortion again. She now thought that all surgical abortions should be illegal and only chemical abortions should be legal, even though they are still immoral.

Deanna is coming from a bodily rights perspective, and it seems that while surgical abortions are clearly not parallel to Thomson’s violinist story, perhaps chemical abortions are. RU-486 seems more like unhooking from the violinist than a surgical abortion does.

This is currently Deanna’s view, and I have more work to do on defending my belief that RU-486 is more like taking a baby from inside a boat and placing it in a lake, and then blaming the baby’s death on the water. This takes us into “direct versus indirect killing” territory, which some people joke “is where philosophical arguments go to die.”

At this point Deanna was going through a mild self-identity crisis. Regardless of how you would define the label “pro-life,” a former pro-choice blogger now thought that all abortions were extremely wrong and the majority of them should be illegal. This was enough for Deanna to call herself “pro-life.”

How would she tell her friends? Most of her friends were pro-choice, and some were actively so. Deanna realized that she would have to come out of the closet for a second time, this time not as a gay person, but as a pro-life person.

Would she be rejected? Deanna didn’t know, but she later told me that she found comfort in one thought: Even if every one of her pro-choice friends rejected her, she would have one pro-life friend on the other side welcoming her with loving arms.

Deanna would tell you that two things were necessary conditions for her conversion: rigorous philosophical arguments and a loving friendship with someone on the other side. The intellectual arguments were very important. I haven’t written very much about our initial email exchanges yet, but we got very philosophical, going back and forth on issues like bodily rights arguments, rape, the concept of intrinsic human value, concepts of harm and taking away the dignity of people in temporary comas, moral objectivism, utilitarianism, stem cell research, the “after-birth abortion” paper, and the use of graphic pictures.

It was through those lengthy emails that Deanna and I first became close. And after Deanna believed that most of her philosophical arguments had been defeated by better arguments, she completed her conversion upon realizing that a pro-life person loved her, even while she was an actively pro-choice blogger. I took my cue from Jesus, who, while I was yet a sinner, loved me anyway, and adopted me. (Romans 5:8.)

On May 8, 2014, Deanna went to the Canada National March for Life, wearing her handmade pro-life shirt:

Deanna with prolife walk for life shirt

It says:

I think…

It’s human

because its parents are human,

it’s alive

because it’s growing

and all humans should have an equal right to life

so it should have a right to life.

What do you think?

Deanna is excited for you to read this update of her story. We even want to do some speaking events together. As she put it in a text message, she wants to help me save babies.

The post “My Formerly Pro-Choice Friend Now Self-Identifies as Pro-Life!” originally appeared at JoshBrahm.comClick here to subscribe via email and get exclusive access to a FREE MP3 of Josh Brahm’s speech, “Nine Faulty Pro-Life Arguments and Tactics.”

Question: Would you be interested in hosting an event with Deanna and me talking about our relationship and which arguments changed her mind about abortion? If so, could you fill out this quick form?  In the “event title” field, just put “Josh and Deanna event.”


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 uses speaking, writing and campus outreach to emphasize practical dialogue tips, pro-life philosophy, and relational apologetics.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • Elizabeth Doecke

    It’s hard to write something that doesn’t sound like, ‘Yay, you won the prize! You made a pro-choicer into a pro-lifer!’ Because that’s not what I want to say, even though I do think that’s an awesome outcome. Rather, I loved reading this account because it’s such a great example on why I’ve come to believe that the relational style is so important – because I can see how arguments coming from a place of love and respect have a much greater impact and are less easily dismissed than aggressiveness and an us-versus-them mentality.

    On another note (the RU-486 note), I’ve started putting together a blog post on bodily autonomy. I am currently trying to think through the whole idea of a ‘disconnect’ and medical abortions being analogous to disconnecting from the violinist. I’m still working through it, but some of my thoughts thus far are:
    – how unhooking from the violinist does not place him in an environment that he is not physiologically designed to survive within, whereas placing the extremely premature child outside uterus does so (to make the violinist scenario analogous, you would have to have him being shot into space or submerged under water upon disconnection).
    – regarding how interrupting a physiological process that supplies a need differs from reversing an artificial process that supplies a need.
    – how (harking back to the de facto guardian argument) the disconnect ceases, without any possibility of reestablishment, the supply of a basic need (nutrition) that one could argue is the responsibility of the parent to supply.
    A bit disjointed, but – like I said – I’m still working through it. Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

    Made any plans to come to Australia yet? :)

    • Love it! Maybe the you, Deanna and me can do a little brainstorming on those topics here.

      I have yet to be invited to Australia. ;)

      • Elizabeth Doecke

        Thanks, Josh. Would love to brainstorm! I’ve passed on your details to Right To Life Australia. Hopefully something might come of it!

  • Acyutananda

    Thanks very much for the story. At this moment I just wanted to mention that your typed version of the T-shirt text is missing one line . . .

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  • Chandler Klebs

    “Yet Deanna believed that abortion was so wrong that she wanted to go to her local abortion facility and encourage girls not to have the abortions she thought should be legal.”

    I think that a person who admits that abortion is immoral is already pro-life.

    • I definitely knew that progress was being made at that point. :)

      Everybody seems to have a definition of the word “pro-life.” While I know that sometimes it’s impossible to talk about this issue without referring to an entire side of the debate, I’m less interested in the label and more interested in understanding very clearly what the individual person in question believes so that we can move the conversation forward.

      • Chandler Klebs

        For me, pro-life activism is more than just about abortion. The idea is to promote life wherever possible. This includes all acts of kindness.

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  • Awesome, awesome, awesome!

  • Guest

    That’s such a cute t-shirt :)

  • AugustineThomas

    That’s a great story. Sounds like she came to the same conclusions that many of us did after carefully considering the issue. I don’t mean to generalize, but I know of very few people who are pro-choice that deeply consider the matter. They usually are the ones who haven’t thought too much about it and only know they don’t like the idea of someone telling someone else what to do with their body. The most distressing part of this issue is that, in my opinion, Satan has tricked people into believing that they’re protecting women by murdering children.

    • Guest

      I don’t think that’s a fair judgement to make. There are pro-choice people that have thought very carefully about the issue. I would wager that, just based on what I’ve heard, Deanna thought and read more about the matter than 99% of people on either side (even before she began communicating with Josh). Conversely, there are many pro-lifers that haven’t seriously considered it at all. Josh has spent a lot of time critiquing faulty pro-life arguments and tactics.

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