Bnonn Tennant (the B is silent)

Where a recovering ex-atheist skewers things with a sharp two-edged sword

Useful thoughts for debating abortionists

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4 minutes to read A scattering of helpful ideas for anyone who has to debate the issue of abortion.

A couple of variants on my original simple argument against abortion—these can be memorized easily, though reciting them by rote will probably be less effective than working them naturally into conversation:

  1. Killing your children is wrong.
  2. Your unborn child is one of your children
  3. Therefore, killing your unborn child is wrong
  1. Killing another human being to make your life easier is wrong
  2. A fetus is a human being.
  3. Therefore, killing your fetus to make your life easier is wrong.

Some other thoughts to have in mind

If you’re discussing abortion with someone, most people will agree with these statements but then try to deny the implications. Gently pressing them on their inconsistency can help open their eyes:

  • Mothers should protect their children, even with their own lives.
  • A part of your own body has your own DNA, not someone else’s.
  • It’s especially wrong to kill human beings who are unusually innocent or defenseless or have a great deal to lose (ie, the chance at a full life), or when the killing is in cold blood (ie premeditated) or by someone who has been trusted to protect the one being killed.
  • If a fetus is not a person, killing it denies it the chance to develop into a person. Denying this sort of potential seems obviously wrong — for example, if you toddler is blind and you can grant him his sight with a simple operation, it would be wrong to not go ahead and do that.
  • How a human being is conceived makes no difference to their humanity. If a woman was raped and then conceived, that’s terrible—but how does the injustice done to her pass on a license for her to commit an even worse injustice against her child?
  • If “abortion” is just a euphemism for “murdering your baby”, and murdering your baby should carry the death penalty, then why should we worry that making it illegal would lead to women dying from botched back-alley abortions?

Parting thoughts about attitude

I don’t recall ever meeting an abortionist who genuinely seemed to care about the truth. I’m not saying they don’t exist; but I’ve only met ones who, a priori, regarded any attack on abortion as an attack on women (and themselves, if they are women). This makes it very difficult to converse with them. I am often reminded of 2 Thessalonians 2:11. Some suggestions for dealing with these types:

  • Online, people are often watching but not getting involved. Although it’s hard not to get snarky at militant abortionists, it is better to show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned. That way, you have a clean conscience, and when you are slandered your opponent may be put to shame.
  • That doesn’t mean you can’t firmly point out where someone has failed to respond to your argument.
  • In general, I think it’s better to completely ignore insults (including speculation about your motives etc), unless it is directly relevant to the argument you’re making. Such tactics are quite transparent to anyone else watching, but engaging with them tends to make you look insecure or petty, while ignoring them helps to keep a focus on the real issue (which is not you), while implicitly drawing attention to how little of substance your opponent is actually saying.
  • If no one else is likely to see the conversation, shake the dust off your feet if your initial argument proves unsuccessful.
  • Remember that not everyone who acts out does so out of malice. Many people are antagonistic because they have been taught to be. Some are antagonistic because they have had abortions, or been involved in abortions. Sometimes antagonism is a sign of a guilty conscience. Often guilty consciences long to be cleansed and anger is just a defense mechanism. Try to hold, as a principle of first importance, the notion that you’re talking to a human being with feelings, and not a computer screen that’s giving the wrong output. True, human beings are wicked. But also true, they are made in the image of God. This is true of both of you.
  • Helping people to see that they’ve made a huge mistake (this is a huge issue after all) will eventually make them grateful to you, but in the short term it will make them dislike you. It will also take a lot of time.
  • People don’t like having their minds made up for them. It is much better to ask them to draw a conclusion of their own, than to draw it for them. If they draw it, they will own it; if you draw it, they will instinctively try to deny it.
  • The real issue here is ultimately not abortion; it is unbelief. Especially for post-abortive women, accepting that they murdered their baby is not a helpful conclusion without the saving forgiveness and restoration of the gospel. Be ready to share that too.

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