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"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." Elizabeth Cady Stanton



Saturday, 11 May 2013

Five things I think the pro-life movement needs to change

#5. Let go of the gay marriage debate.

I know this won't be a popular thing to say among Christian pro-lifers, but I really believe that this is one of the biggest things holding back the pro-life message from youth today. I can't tell you how many times I have heard a pro-choicer conflate the two debates, and I believe that is largely our fault. And it is tragic. One issue involves the killing of unique human beings, the other involves two consenting adults having sex.

When you go to many of the big name websites in the pro-life movement, you will find them divided between advancing the sanctity of life, and pushing extreme anti-gay stories. How many people have been turned off of our message because our movement (as a whole) has focused on issues that have little bearing on the abortion debate?

If you are against gay marriage and are pro-life - fine. But please keep these two sides of your advocacy separate. And if I have to explain to you why abortion is a much more serious issue than gay marriage, learn a bit more about what you are advocating against. Gay rights do not even come close to approaching the scale of harm that abortion rights inflicts on our society (and of course, the question of gay rights causing harm at all is debatable) - especially when we consider the young lives that are ended through abortion.

#4. Focus on real arguments.

I cannot even count the number of times I have read a pro-life comment or blog post that does not address at all what the author had hoped to address. Instead, all I read are intensely emotional appeals to the evilness of abortion, the presence of the devil, and the judgement of God. While these things may be true, no one will be convinced by such appeals. What will convince people, however, is sticking to the salient points of the debate. What are pre-born humans? Do they have a right to life? Do mothers really have unequivocal control over their pre-born children, even to the point of causing harm and death?

See this blog entry from Pro-Life Humanists for a non-Christian perspective. I think they have a point. Are we in this movement to save babies, or are we in this movement to convince people to believe in God?

#3. Understand science and statistics.

One other issue with the pro-life movement is that as soon as we find a study that hints at support for the pro-life side of the debate, we run with it. Pro-life blogs and spokespeople reference the study to the point of absurdity, and make statements which assume that there is no room to doubt the study's conclusions.

That is not how science works. And that is definitely not how statistics work. Read the studies you quote, read studies which draw conflicting results, and read the scientific commentary on these issues. And never, ever state anything for certain.

In any case, our thesis does not rest on whether or not abortions cause breast cancer, increase suicidal thoughts, or that most women choose abortion for economical reasons. Putting too much weight on these conclusions, especially when they may be incorrect, weakens our message. Abortion is always wrong. Period. Even if it were healthier for women to abort than give birth. Even if most women reported increased levels of happiness after abortions. Even if women choose to have abortions for other reasons besides the monetary cost of raising a child. Abortion always kills someone (both scientifically and philosophically) - and that is why it is wrong.

#2. Increase your reach.

Become better at reaching people. Spread the message. This is easier said than done, especially since the MSM prefers to ignore our message rather than report dispassionately on the issue of abortion. But even so, there is definitely room for improvement for every pro-life organization.

For instance, I will give an example relevant to my life as a student. If I didn't actively seek out the date of Canada's 2013 March For Life, I wouldn't know it was happening on May 9th. The university pro-life groups I am a part of haven't even bothered posting a link to the event page on their own Facebook pages. The church I attend included March for Life in their April bulletins, but didn't bother saying anything about the pro-life message or the March during the beginning of May. Pro-life friends who are actively involved in the movement haven't been searching for others to come with them to the March - in fact, I had to reach out to my campus pro-life group in order to get any information at all.

All of these pages are from prominent Ontario Universities - ones that are nice and close to Ottawa. Yet, no information whatsoever on the March. How many people are we losing because we haven't been connecting with them? If I wasn't absolutely determined to attend the March this year, I can say that I would have definitely given up.

#1. Engage the culture.

Many pro-life leaders, in Canada and in the States, are young. Which is great. But many of them are also very devout religious people and it is hard for the average person to relate to them. We need to promote organizations and advocates who come from a different background and who advocate for a different, more secular kind of approach. I would love for a Secular Pro-Life chapter to begin in Canada. I think something like this could make great strides in the academic / university world towards converting students and professors to the pro-life cause.

 How many pro-life songs (not written by Christian artists) do you know? How many pro-life pieces of art have you seen? How many pro-life movies are out there? Are they popular, or do they only succeed in the Christian niche market?

Spreading the message does nothing if it only reaches the Christian pro-life echo chamber. This is the most important point, in my opinion, because if the average person never comes across a thoughtful, well reasoned depiction of the pro-life cause, they will remain pro-choice simply because it is the status quo.


  1. I'd like to add that the disturbing and graphic images of aborted babies on many pro-life websites really bothers me. They upset me so much it- I am always afraid of clicking on links to any pro-life website because of this. Seeing them makes me depressed for weeks and haunts me.

    1. I agree, but with the caveat that I think these photos should be posted on the Internet. However, warnings should be clearly visible so that those who would be upset by the photos can choose to avoid them. I know I've been surprised by bloody photos more times than I can count, and it is very upsetting.

  2. Erin and Dolce,
    I also agree pictures that illustrate the nature of abortion are hard to view. These visual messages shows us that life is to be preserved. What do you think would be a better method to share with people that don't know about the process of abortion?

    A poor example but we have airbags and seatbelts and crush zones in cars because of many news stories about car accidents. We are about changing the way culture sees abortion enough to change it.

    1. I definitely agree that graphic images help to change the culture. I also think it is disrespectful to the lives lost to ignore the violence that was done to them. I just think that there should be warnings. News broadcasters and papers always warn when there will be graphic or hard-to-view content; we should do the same.

  3. Abortion is a legal issue, do you plan to arrest women seeking abortions? Do you plan to arrest women who have had an abortion? Do you plan to investigate miscarriages because they may have been artificially induced?

    Do you plan to ban emergency contraceptives?

    What do you want?

    1. Abortion is a human rights issue. Humans are being killed. Pro-choicers don't think these humans deserve rights. Pro-lifers do.

      But like all human rights issues, there are of course legal ramifications. We can look to countries who successfully protect women while also banning the majority of abortions for guidance on how to deal with these issues. I am not a philosopher, lawyer or a lawmaker, so I suggest you find a pro-lifer who is and ask them about legal consequences. Though I think we can all make some general conclusions based on how the deaths of ordinary BORN children are investigated.

      "Do you plan to arrest women seeking abortions?"
      That depends. Was she coerced? Forced by a boyfriend or parents? Was she poor and desperate with no where to turn? Did the abortionist take advantage of her? Does she have serious emotional/mental issues? Is she willing to turn in the abortionist who actually killed her child? What she raised in a social climate where abortion is constantly taught to be okay, desirable, and necessary for equality?

      "Do you plan to investigate miscarriages because they may have been artificially induced?"
      Is there evidence that the miscarriage was artificially induced? If not, then no. Just like how, if a newborn dies, the parents are investigated if there are signs indicating abuse or neglect.

      "Do you plan to ban emergency contraceptives?"
      Do they induce abortions? If not, then no.

      "What do you want?"
      I want every human life to be protected under the law, no matter how old. I want better options available to women. I want abortion to be unthinkable. I'm pro-life, I think it is pretty obvious what I want.

  4. "I would love for a Secular Pro-Life chapter to begin in Canada." There was one, which I started last year. Unfortunately, Secular Pro-Life and I had a split, largely over the issue of rape and abortion (one of the main leaders favours the rape exception and SPL's official position is to take "no position" which simply did not work for me.

    I started Pro-Life Humanists as a secular educational outreach for life. Our primary vision is to be an active presence at conferences and secular events, engaging with the secular community.

    If Secular Pro-Life is a home for pro-life atheists, Pro-Life Humanists is a bus driving across the continent(eventually the world) to find those who aren't yet on board with us and picking them up to bring them home with us. :)

    I'd be happy to guest-blog for you if you're interested. I'm located in Canada's capital.

    Kristine Kruszelnicki

    1. Hi Kristine! A guest blog would be SO awesome :) I'm so happy to have heard about your group!

      Btw, I've been interested in looking more into what a Humanist Philosophy actually is - are there any books you could recommend?

  5. Its creepy how you prolifers are obesessed with fetuses and babies. Even if a human is killed in abortion why on earth do you even care? IT doesn't affect you.

    1. I think we have a winner for Person Who Has Most Completely Missed The Point.

      "Even if a human is killed ... why on earth do you even care? IT doesn't affect you."

      I really hope most people don't think like this. After all, poverty does not affect me. Genocide in other countries does not affect me. The horrible treatment of Canada's native population does not affect me. And they are all humans. Should I just not care?

      I think not. I care because they ARE human. I care because there is a better way. The unborn are human too, and there are better, *non-violent* ways of helping mothers. So I care about the abortion issue as well.

      Its really not that hard to understand ...