With the latest passage of Alabama’s abortion law, The Alabama Human Life Protection Act, news feeds everywhere are riddled with opinions, for and against, abortion. Navigating the difficult conversations requires grace, patience, love and prayer. This post is not a direct response to the Alabama law, nor is it a direct response to abortion. Rather, this post is a look at a few key arguments of the pro-choice movement and the best apologetic responses to common abortion arguments.
My Body My Choice
Perhaps the biggest argument for abortion is “My body, My choice.” While the view is easily refuted (as referenced here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) the phrase itself is one of empowerment and not easily dismissed with casual rhetoric. When “My body, My choice” populates your news feed, the best response from the Christian apologist is to “keep scrolling.”
1 Peter 3:15 gives us a good reason for pause here. Note the words of Peter, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks” (emphasis added).
The person behind this argument is not asking to be engaged but asserting a position of power. Moreover, the person behind this argument is (probably) not interested in the implications of the argument. Simply pointing out that abortion isn’t about infringing on the right of the woman to her body doesn’t change the narrative in play. Neither does exposing the limitations of the idiom. Rather than engage, the smarter response is no response.
If a response is necessary, use these tips:
- Is the response focused on the person or the argument? Focus on the person!
- Does the response reflect the heart of Jesus or the depravity of man? Focus on the heart of Jesus.
- Will the response be well received or divisive? Do not make comments open for interpretation.
The Fetus Isn’t Viable
Fetal personhood is a hot-topic debate. Scientifically, the scales do seem to tip in favor of pro-life advocates. There are, after all, no scientific reasons to believe a human would birth a horse, iguana, maple tree or anything other than a human baby. However, it’s not as simple as divisive news feeds suggest.
Bill Nye recently attacked this emotionally charged debate by charging pro-lifers as anti-science and ignorant (here). His focal point was arguing that conception isn’t always viable so conception itself isn’t a strong starting point for human rights. Aristotle also wrestled with this suggesting human development occurs in three stages: vegetative, animalistic and rationality. While viability is the keyword in the argument, viability itself isn’t at issue. Therefore, using the S.L.E.D. tactics (as used here, here, here, and here) can dismiss the argument, but fails to address the arguer.
In this case, unlike the “my body, my choice” argument, the arguer is not choosing a power platform but a passive one. By diminishing the humanity of the fetus, the pregnant woman can maintain a higher morality. In this case, the best response of the apologist is to “keep scrolling.”
If a response is necessary, use these tips:
- Was your position asked for or are you interjecting unsolicited? Don’t fuel the fire.
- By challenging another perspective, will the comment build up or tear down the person being challenged? Find common ground first.
When Is It OK to Engage?
At A Clear Lens, we strive to “transform your Christian faith into effective communication for Christ.” In today’s world, much of that communication happens online. Social media, podcasts, blogs, and vines are great mediums to share your faith. Post your thoughts and well-reasoned arguments as resources for people to think through. Share them with your friends and family. Share them with those who think and feel differently. Join online debate forums; follow hashtags. By no means are Christians called to sit on the sidelines.
Consider this an encouragement to Christians to listen to the person not just the argument. There are real people, real hurts and real emotion fueling both sides of the abortion debate. For that reason, the apologetic response must be:
- Answer those who ask
- Prepare yourself to give an answer
- (most importantly) do so with gentleness and respect
What are your thoughts on abortion and how to respond? Leave your comments below or check out these other resources from ACL on the topic.
Ep. 127: How Do You Talk to a Non-Believer About Abortion?