By Devorah Gilman
He wasn't the kind of person most people would expect to be open to the pro-life message. He was secular, gay and voted liberal. It seemed that in most aspects, he and I had very different worldviews. However, when I began to talk to this young man in Toronto a short while ago, it became clear we had something in common.
I met him while doing a project we call "Choice" Chain, where we go on Canadian streets and talk to people about abortion. We show pictures of pre-born humans in the womb as well as pictures of what abortion does to them. Our pictures clearly show a harsh truth that our volunteers handle in a sensitive and compassionate way. We never yell or are rude, but focus on dialoguing with people, making sure we ask thoughtful questions in a kind manner, and that's where my conversation happened with this young man.
I asked him key questions: "Do you believe in human rights?" "Yes," he told me. "That's great, I do too," I said. Then I asked him, "If two human beings reproduce, what species will their offspring be?" "Human, obviously," he replied. "We both believe in human rights," I said, "and we know the basic science that species reproduce after their own kind. Knowing this, doesn't it logically follow that this"—I pointed to a picture of an aborted child—"is a human rights violation?" He thought for a moment and then his eyes lit up. "It is a human rights violation!" he said. A while later, he left our conversation promising to do all he could to prevent human rights from being violated through abortion. "Thank you," he said. "What you're doing is powerful."
Though we started the conversation as two people with seemingly great differences we ended in agreement on one important issue. We had both come into the discussion agreeing on our stance on human rights. We both left the discussion with the correct understanding that all humans, including the pre-born, deserved these rights, and as human beings ourselves we would do what we could to protect them. As this gentleman continued on his way, I knew that the world had just become a little safer for pre-born human beings.
Some Christians have expressed skepticism that non-believers can see that abortion is wrong, therefore making it impossible to end abortion. Yet I regularly see men and women who have no faith in God, like this Toronto man, change their opinions on abortion. They don't need to become Christians first before they see that abortion is wrong.
Why is that? Well, people turn to abortion for a variety of reasons. Often, it is the difficult circumstances that they are in and can't see their way out of. Yet, the same people wouldn't choose to kill a born child because they were in the same difficult circumstances. This means we need to show them that killing a pre-born child is just as wrong as killing a born child. The problem is not that they have the wrong morality—they know killing a human being is wrong. The problem is that they have the wrong biology—they don't know that killing a pre-born child is killing a human being.
Shortly after I spoke with the young man, I encountered a young woman, not too far from my previous conversation. This young woman was walking down the street when I offered her a brochure and asked her, "What do you think about abortion?" She opened the brochure and her eyes fell upon a picture of a pre-born child that had been aborted during the first trimester. "It kills a baby," she said. "It's horrible." She went on to share about how terrible and unjust abortion was. Near the end of the conversation, as I wondered whether or not our interaction that day had affected her seemingly firm pro-life conviction, I asked her, "Did seeing this picture change the way you thought of abortion?" "Yes," she said. "I was pro-choice." And then she explained how she had been pro-abortion up to the moment she had seen the picture I showed her. This young lady needed to see what the young man from my first story came to realize as well: pre-born human beings are just that, human beings. As I asked this young woman if she was now 100% against abortion she hesitated, "Well, you may need abortion for rape or if the family is in poverty . . ." Her voice trailed off and then came back strongly against what she had just been saying. "No. You just can't kill a baby." And then in answer to the original question: "Yeah, what can I do to stop abortion?" This woman went from accepting abortion to being 100% against it in minutes. What changed for this young woman is the same thing that changed for the young man in the previous conversation. They came to see that the pre-born are, like you and me, human beings.
What needs to change?
For years many in the pro-life movement have proclaimed truths such as "abortion stops a beating heart," and "life is sacred." Though these statements are true, all they provide is a conclusion and not the compelling evidence that leads to the conclusion in the first place. Furthermore, many argue for the pro-life stance assuming people understand objective truth without trying to prove it to an increasingly relativistic world. We can change hearts and minds in regard to abortion, but we need to be able to reach people where they are at, build common ground, share the truth, and provide evidence in a loving and winsome way.
The reason people aren't embracing the pro-life view isn't because they aren't Christians. It seems people aren't embracing the pro-life view because we aren't communicating that view clearly to them.
We need to communicate the truth of who the pre-born are and what abortion does to them. We need to provide evidence and engage people, scientifically and philosophically. I've shared two anecdotes with you, but they are not isolated incidents. In fact, they are part of an ever-increasing societal transformation that is taking place.
If we seem unable to end abortion, if we're not sure how to communicate the truth, then we need to change our approach, not pack our bags. Let us remember to provide evidence in a compelling manner, reaching people where they're presently at. As we engage the culture in a loving, truthful way, we can rescue many of our pre-born neighbours.
The truth is powerful, and God is glorified when truth is spread and effort is made to save lives. I would argue that, for all pre-born children, whether their lives are in the hands of believers or those who don't believe, we must do what we can to save them, and it is, indeed, possible to save them.
Pro-Life speaker Devorah Gilman has spoken to many audiences: educating, inspiring, and equipping them to effectively engage the culture on the abortion issue. She has helped organize and lead teams of people to do life-saving pro-life outreach across Canada and the United States. She is the Community Liaison for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, an educational pro-life organization that is transforming the culture and currently employs over 20 young people as staff. For more information, please see Devorah's profile. To support Devorah's life-saving work, you can donate at CCBR's donation page, and write her name in the comment section of the donation process.