Understanding Our Pro-Choice Audience

By: Molly Sheahan

photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc

photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc

When Was the Last Time You Asked Someone, “What do you think about abortion?”

Oftentimes, we get so wrapped up in our own views that we fail to find out what the other person even thinks! If we do not know the basis for our pro-choice friend’s thoughts, how can we possibly explain the pro-life position to them? There are many stances under the umbrella term “pro-choice.” We need to understand these positions and the reasoning behind them so we can have an effective dialogue.

Whether the Unborn Are Alive

One of the main stances pro-choice supporters take is that the unborn are not alive, or that we cannot know when life begins. To our pro-choice friend, it seems irrational and extremist of pro-lifers to radically alter a woman’s life over something non-living. Indeed, if the unborn are not alive, it would be perfectly reasonable to support abortion. Once we recognize that they see the unborn as nonliving and nonhuman, we can gently refer to biology that shows the unborn are living human beings and that we do not have the right to kill them.

Whether the Unborn Are Valuable

Another common pro-choice view is that the unborn are biologically alive, but they are not valuable humans. Essentially, to our pro-choice friend, the unborn are living but do not possess the basic skills for life on their own. For instance, she might say that the unborn are not self-aware, their brains are not fully developed, they are dependent on their mother, and they cannot live on their own. To her, these differences between us and the unborn make the unborn lack value. With this crucial knowledge, a pro-life advocate can kindly point out that while the unborn is small, less developed, is in a different environment, and is dependent, the unborn still have the same intrinsic worth as a toddler or adult, and therefore cannot be killed.

Whether a Woman Can Kill For the Sake of Bodily Autonomy

The third commonly held stance of pro-choice proponents is that even if the unborn are living human beings with value, a woman has a right to bodily autonomy. In other words, she has the right to remove anything from her body that she does not want there. This is where the “my body, my choice” slogan is used. Our pro-choice friends are compassionately trying to protect women from what they see as a drastic overreach into women’s lives. Once we understand this, we can interact with them and ask challenging questions, like whether they think a woman should be allowed to drink, smoke, or take drugs while pregnant. We can explain that she has the right to control her body, but not to hurt or kill someone else.

By recognizing that our pro-choice friends do not all hold the same opinions, and by listening to their beliefs, we can address their concerns. Listening allows us to become stronger defenders of life. So let’s listen to learn. Let’s listen so we can have good conversations. Let’s listen.