Pro-choice talking points and arguments are extensive, using many “what if’s”, careful semantics, and repetition to promote the acceptance of abortion. Even if we are not convinced to accept abortion, they will settle for our apathy. The pro-life message is simple. The unborn child is a human being, a human person, whose life should be protected. Pro-lifers can be prepared to see through the talking points and answer the arguments with gentleness and respect. Our job is to win hearts for life.
We are all familiar with a talking point, especially in this highly political season. It is a succinct statement designed to support persuasively one side taken on an issue. The goal is to achieve a sympathetic response. The typical purpose is to propagandize by using the technique of argumentum ad nauseum (continual repetition until accepted as fact).
Last month, in Be Informed, we looked at Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) – its size, organization, and goals. It’s new 25 year plan, Vision 2025, includes 10 goals, one of which refers to abortion (code name reproductive freedom). It states, “Planned Parenthood will secure passage of laws and policies, including state and federal constitutional amendments that guarantee reproductive freedom for all.” We know that Planned Parenthood is increasing abortion in facilities, already the largest abortion provider in the U.S.
This legal and political goal requires support from judges, politicians, and the public. Talking points are used by its advocates to convince people by argumentum ad nauseum that their worldview is true and their methods are admirable. They are contending with the pro-life community for the hearts and minds of the American people.
The following are some examples of Planned Parenthood talking points followed by a pro-life response.
1. Emphasize personal decision making to take advantage of the natural empathy and understanding for the woman facing an unintended pregnancy
ANS. Although pro-lifers empathize and understand her situation, our assistance to her would be to discourage the decision to end the child’s life and to seek moral alternatives. In truth, Planned Parenthood discourages delays that would allow for good decision making such as waiting periods and the use of ultrasounds.
2. Encourage tolerance for different views on abortion. People do not have to feel comfortable with abortion or believe it is good but just refrain from making it illegal.
ANS. The pro-life fundamental belief is that abortion takes the life of a human person. It is morally wrong and should be illegal.
3. Bring the discussion around to shared goals. We all want happy, healthy children and families. We all want children born to parents who feel ready for the responsibility of parenthood.
ANS. Pro-lifers believe that every child has a right to be born, regardless of whether or not the parents want a child now. Adoption is a very viable option.
4. Emphasize the word “decision” not “choice”. Choice carries a connotation of triviality. Decision conveys the gravity of the woman’s thinking as she considers whether to “end her pregnancy”.Here is a good example of the use of semantics. “Choice” vs “decision” and “end her pregnancy” meaning, of course, to end the life of the fetus.
ANS. Pro-lifers consider the process of choosing or deciding to be grave, not because of semantics, but the decision to abort means ending a human life. Additionally, many post-abortive women suffer lifelong pain ad regret as a result of abortion, not anticipated while in the process of “deciding”.
5. The decision is about becoming a parent, not abortion.
ANS. Pro-lifers advise adoption for the person who does not want to parent. Quoting Mother Teresa, “It is a poverty that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
6. Field tough questions by treating them as general issues. Do not respond to specifics. Springboard over them to go to your worldview.
Example. Planned Parenthood provides excellent healthcare with over 80 years of service including sex education, counseling, and preventative medical care for families. Abortion is only 3% of our services.
ANS. The definition of “healthcare” is the maintenance or improvement of health via diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and the preservation of mental and physical well-being.
Pro-lifers consider abortion to be detrimental. It ends the life of the fetus and harms the mental and physical well-being of the mother. Therefore, it is not a healthcare provision. In actuality, abortion is 11 to 12% of P.P.’s services. It is the largest provider of abortion in the U.S.
7. Promoting political candidates, pro-choice supporters warn that the pro-life candidate will cut off women from the healthcare they need.
ANS. Again, pro-lifers do not consider abortion to be healthcare. Defunding Planned Parenthood is proposed for many reasons including opposition to public funds for abortion and recent documentation of the selling of “lungs, hearts, brains, and livers” and other body parts that from the organizations of 329,000 annual abortions. This was an admission of Dr. Deborah Nucotola, P.P.’s Director of Medical Services.
There are many pro-choice arguments against the pro-life worldview. Offered here are a few of the common ones followed by the pro-life responses. For a more comprehensive listing as well as resources providing detailed treatment of these issues, consult the pamphlet Sharing the Pro-Life Message published by the Pro-Life Action League.
1. A fetus is not a human being.
ANS. Human life is a continuum, beginning with a newly conceived zygote, moving through the stages of embryo and fetus, on through to adult. It is no less human because it is smaller and more delicate. Since this new life possesses DNA and is the offspring of human parents, it can only legitimately be described as human life.
2. A fetus may be a human being, but it is not really a human person.
ANS. What is the distinction between a human being and a human person? “Parenthood” is a philosophical term, not scientific. It depends on individual, subjective beliefs rather than common, objective values.
The rights of a human being are meaningless unless they belong to all human beings, without discrimination. Historically, other categories of “human beings” have been excluded from the class of “persons” to rationalize injustices such as slavery and genocide.
3. How can you tell a woman what they can or cannot do with their bodies?
ANS. Abortion does not remove some part of the woman’s body, it destroys the body of a separate, unique individual. Pro-lifers cannot force a woman to choose life for her baby. We seek to inform women about the consequences of abortion and do what we can to help her choose life for her unborn child.
4. Abortion opponents are violent. They shoot abortionists and attack women.
Despite some highly publicized cases, violence perpetuated by abortion opponents is extremely rare. All major pro-life organizations have official policies condemning the use of violence and no cases of violence directed at the abortion bound women have ever been substantiated despite the rhetoric from some abortion advocates, seeking to create an “us vs them” mindset. Pro-life activism demands singular patience and peacefulness and is in fact the most peaceful protest movement in U.S. history.
5. What if something is wrong with the baby?
ANS. No child deserves the death penalty for being less than perfect. It would be wrong to say that the life of a child with a disability has less value than the life of any other child.
6. Do you want to return to the days of “black alley” or “coat hanger” abortions?
ANS. The “coat hanger” abortion is a myth. There is no evidence to support the performance of a single coat hanger abortion. The National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) was co-founded by DR. Bernard Nathanson. He later became pro-life and confessed, in his 1979 book Aborting America, that this reference and other claims are not supported by facts. NARAL also claimed that 1,000,000 illegal abortions were performed yearly, though they believe the number was about 100,000. They claimed 10,000 women died from illegal abortion, knowing that the actual number was a mere fraction of this number. In 1972, the year before Roe vs Wade, 39 women died from illegal abortion. Since legalization, more than 350 have died from so-called “safe, legal abortion”.
7. Why don’t you stop trying to impose your religion on others?
ANS. A person does not have to be religious to be pro-life, and many non-religious people believe that abortion is wrong. Justice demands that the life of every human being be protected by law. In addition, research shows us that abortion hurts women and puts them at great risk of numerous physical and psychological harms. Abortion also harms our culture. Quoting Mother Teresa, legal abortion “kills the conscience of a nation.” The disregard for human life in the womb has hardened our hearts and minds.
The pro-life message is very simple. An unborn child is a human being, a human “person”, whose life should be protected. The pro-choice message is very complicated as illustrated by the menu of arguments and careful semantics used to justify abortion. Let us be prepared to answer with gentleness and respect to win hearts and minds on behalf of the unborn.
-Dr. Elizabeth Dean