Make the Pro-Life Case in 60 Seconds

What Would You Say?

You’re in a conversation and someone says, “Pro-lifers just want to force their religious views on everyone else. They don’t really have a good reason to oppose abortion.” What would you say? Dismissing opposition to abortion as religious ideology is intellectually lazy. There are rational arguments against abortion, and those who oppose abortion make them often. So, when abortion advocates dismiss arguments against abortion, remember these three steps: Step #1: Formally state the case against abortion. Here’s one of the very best summaries of the overall argument against abortion: 
Premise 1: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
Premise 2: Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.
Conclusion: Abortion is morally wrong. Clearly stating the case against abortion can prevent critics from distorting and dismissing it. Plus, it will keep you on-message.  
Step #2: Defend the case against abortion by clearly stating the reasons for your pro-life position. Did you know you can defend the main aspects of the argument against abortion in less than a minute? There are two aspects of this defense. First, an embryo is a distinct, living, whole human being, and, second, the differences in size, level of development, environment, and dependency are not sufficient reasons to justify killing an innocent human being. Here’s an example of how you might defend opposing abortion: 
"I am pro-life because it's wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. The science of embryology establishes that from the earliest stages of development, you and I were distinct, living, and whole human beings. Embryos are not part of another human being like skin cells on the back of a hand, embryos are already whole living members of the human family that have not yet matured. And there is no essential difference between the embryo you and I once were and the adults we are today that justifies killing us at that earlier stage of development. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not good reasons for saying you could be killed then but not now." The beauty of this one-minute soundbite is its brevity. But what if instead of 60 seconds you only get six seconds? Simply say this, "I am pro-life because it's wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings." That single sentence is enough to provoke plenty of discussion, and will allow you to further unpack the pro-life argument. Step #3: Establish ground rules for further discussion. Once the pro-life argument is presented, critics have work to do. To dismiss this argument as simply “religious” is a dodge, and it is ok to point out the difference between dodging an argument and refuting an argument. Arguments are either true or false, valid or invalid. Calling an argument “religious” misses the point entirely. If an argument can be refuted with evidence or a counter-argument made for abortion, then the conversation can continue. Otherwise, the case has been made against abortion and you’ve given them a lot of think about. 
Pro-lifers aren’t imposing their religious views any more than abolitionist Christians. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. often appealed to faith and religious belief. Rather than imposing, we are proposing a more just and better way, in hopes we can persuade our fellow citizens to protect the most vulnerable in our society. So, the next time you're challenged to defend your pro-life views on hostile turf, remember these three steps: 1. Formally state the case against abortion. 2. Defend the case against abortion by clearly stating the reasons for your pro-life position. 3. Establish ground rules for further discussion. For What Would You Say, I’m Megan Almon.

Klusendorf, Scott. The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009.

Thank you to Scott Klusendorf and Megan Almon for their contributions to this video.