How to Have a Difficult Abortion Conversation
As the reverberations of the Supreme Court’s historic overturn of Roe v. Wade last week continue to settle on our culture, one thing is clear: we pro-lifers may very well find ourselves having difficult conversations with our friends and family members who disagree with us about abortion in the coming months.
So how can we avoid these conversations becoming heated shouting matches? And what are some of the most persuasive pro-life arguments that we can bring up? Here are a few tips.
5 Points to Keep in Mind Going in
First, pray. If the topic of abortion comes up in conversation, immediately ask God for wisdom. Simply pray, “Lord, please guide this conversation and speak through me.”
Second, listen closely. Do not formulate your response while your friend is speaking! By the age of 45, approximately one in four women have had an abortion. Of these, one in three attended church at the time of her abortion. This means there is a high likelihood that your friend has a personal connection to abortion, even if that friend is from a church-going background. Your friend may be hurting; listen carefully, and then respond with truth and compassion.
Third, express empathy. If your friend has a personal connection to abortion, you want this conversation to be the first of many — not the last. Always acknowledge that women facing unplanned, unintended pregnancies are in a terribly difficult situation and that choosing life is an act of heroic virtue.
Fourth, stay calm. It can be difficult to remain calm when challenging a person’s point of view, especially on something as emotionally charged as abortion. Keep in mind that your friend likely will not remember everything that was said in the conversation but will remember the general tone. Ensure that what you say will not be dismissed merely because of the way in which you said it.
Fifth and finally, do not waver. Regardless of how well the pro-life position is stated, your friend might not receive those words well. They might even think less of you. Keep in mind what Jesus said, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (John 15:18 ESV). Do not be afraid if you do not have all the answers — the Holy Spirit will be with you.
6 Persuasive Pro-Life Arguments
Abortion Kills a Real Person
According to a recent poll, only 38% of Americans acknowledge that life begins at conception. But establishing when life begins is an important first step in changing hearts. Start by sharing a few scientific facts:
- At the moment when a human sperm penetrates a human egg, a new entity, a “zygote,” which is the earliest developmental stage of the human embryo, comes into existence.
- The zygote is composed of a unique DNA blueprint that will determine the person’s hair, sex, eye color, and even some personality traits.
- All the zygote needs for development and growth is time. The zygote will proceed seamlessly through formation of her body, birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, and aging, ending with death.
Also, it’s crucial to remind your friend that when an abortion fails, a person is born. Just a few examples are Melissa Ohden and Claire Culwell.
Aborted Babies Feel Pain
As early as eight weeks after conception, the receptors that transmit pain begin to develop in a child. By 18 weeks, stress hormones in an unborn child rise substantially in response to pain. At 22-23 weeks, an unborn baby will respond to pain the same way older babies respond: scrunching up the eyes, opening the mouth, clenching fits, withdrawing limbs.
There Are Other, Better Options Available to Women
Many people are unaware of the work pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) do. Tell your friend that there are 2,700 pro-life PRCs around the country, ready and willing to help moms (and dads) facing unplanned pregnancies. The beauty of these centers is that they are not just there to talk a woman out of having an abortion; they are there to support and provide resources for the woman as she embarks on the journey of parenthood.
In 2019, PRCs nationwide served almost two million people and provided nearly $270 million in services despite receiving a fraction of the government funds abortion businesses do. While individual PRCs differ in the services they can provide, many centers do outreach to victims of human trafficking, provide much-needed medical care, and offer maternity homes to women in need.
Abortion Is Systematically Eliminating People with Down Syndrome
If your friend is lucky enough to know someone with Down syndrome, your friend probably loves that person. People with Down syndrome are, as pro-life self-advocate with Down syndrome Frank Stephens put it, “an unusually powerful source of happiness.” According to a study led by a physician at Children’s Hospital Boston, 79% of parents or guardians felt their life outlook was more positive because of their child with Down syndrome, 94% of siblings age nine or older expressed feelings of pride about their sibling with Down syndrome, 88% said they felt they were better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome, and 99% of people with Down syndrome said they were happy with their lives.
In a world where people are often valued based on what they can accomplish, people with Down syndrome are a bright light. Sadly, the lives of babies with Down syndrome are being systematically destroyed through the tragedy of abortion. Here in the United States, 67% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Abroad, the statistics are even more terrifying. In Denmark and Iceland, over 95% of babies with Down syndrome are aborted.
Abortion Harms Women
The mental health impact of abortion is challenging to quantify and certainly varies from woman to woman. However, a meta-analysis of 22 studies found a moderate to highly increased risk (81% overall) of mental health problems after an abortion, a 34% increased risk of anxiety, a 37% increased risk of depression, a 110% increased risk of alcohol abuse, a 230% increased risk of marijuana abuse, and a 155% increased risk of suicidal behavior.
There are certainly many factors that contribute to poor mental health, but the stories of women who have had abortions and suffered serious mental health repercussions are tragic. As anyone who has suffered a miscarriage knows, the loss of a child — no matter how early in the pregnancy — is devastating. A woman who has an abortion, just like a woman who has had a miscarriage, has suffered a tremendous loss. Yet our society pretends losing a child through an abortion does not actually impact a woman psychologically and emotionally. This pretense makes the challenge of healing after an abortion even more difficult.
However, there is hope and healing for these women. Programs like the nationwide ministry Project Rachel provide women with the assurance that there can be forgiveness, hope, and healing after abortion.
Children Conceived in Difficult Circumstances Deserve Life
Acknowledge the evil of abuse that many children born into difficult situations face and talk about ways the two of you can work together to end child abuse, promote adoption and foster care, and protect children. Then remind your friend that there is no other problem that we resolve by killing an innocent child. Child abuse should not be solved that way either. Tell your friend that if every child that was born into less than ideal or abusive circumstances was instead aborted, our world would have never known Ludwig van Beethoven, Frederick Douglass, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, Johannes Brahms, Billie Holliday, Steve Jobs, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Tim Tebow, Stephen Curry, J.K. Dobbins, and countless others who have overcome hardships early in life and flourished.
It is unlikely that your friend’s heart will change after one conversation. Your conversation will likely have an impact on your friend and cause them to think more seriously about abortion. The Lord will continue to work on your friend’s heart. In the meantime, continue to witness to the dignity of each person by the way you live your life, and pray that our nation will embrace a culture of life in our new post-Roe era.
For more, see FRC’s publication “How to Change Your Pro-Choice Friend’s Heart.”
Mary Szoch is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.