I like talking to thoughtful pro-life people. Probably because I find lovely people once we can just talk to rather than at each other.

Susan Hackett, after we had a great dialogue on Twitter about abortion.

Quote from a pro-choice friend

There are some good pro-life responses to bodily rights arguments for abortion. These two rejoinders don’t belong on that list.

JoshBrahm-BodilyRightsSpeech-300x218 (1)I am convinced that most pro-abortion-choice advocates who go beyond basic rhetoric and slogans are partially grounding their position in some form of bodily autonomy arguments. If you’re somewhat new to arguments for abortion rights that admit for sake of argument that the unborn is a fully valuable person, please listen to this speech I gave at UCLA last month explaining them as well as offering some refutations.

Let me offer a brief summary of bodily rights arguments before getting to the faulty pro-life responses. Most pro-choice arguments either assume that the unborn are not valuable human beings, (“What about poverty?” “What if she will lose her scholarship?”) or they argue that the unborn are not valuable human beings. (“It’s not viable yet.” “It’s not sentient yet.” “It can’t feel pain yet.”) But there’s a third category of pro-choice arguments that admit (at least for the sake of argument) that the unborn are valuable human beings, yet the mother should still have the right to kill them because of her bodily autonomy. Her view is that if it’s in her body, she has the right to kill it, or at least take whatever measures necessary to refuse to have her body used as life support.

I’ve spoken on bodily rights arguments a lot, especially after helping write the De Facto Guardian paper. During Q&A, someone will often ask about a potential pro-life response that I didn’t include in the speech.

Here’s one I’ve heard several times in that context, and I’ve seen pro-lifers use it in blog posts as well:

“No woman has an abortion because she’s trying to protect her right to bodily autonomy.”

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E-mail concept on white background. Isolated 3D imageI got a tough question from a reader this week:

“Josh, what should I say to someone who tells me that they wish that they had been aborted? I hear this a lot from people who had bad childhoods.” ~ Rebecca from Georgia.

I would probably start by saying this:

“That makes me sad that you would say that. It tells me that you must have lived a very sad life. I’d be open to hearing about that if you’d like to share with me.”

Notice that I’m not taking the bait to debate abortion at this point. A statement like that deserves a relational response, similar to the way Steve Wagner trained me to respond to the issue of rape.

My friend Jasmin Aprile said it well on my Facebook page where I invited people to offer their responses to this challenge:

“Find out why they feel that way. Listen to their story. Find common ground with the difficult circumstances they may have experienced, be it poverty or abuse or growing up without a dad. I would say building the relationship is the top priority.”

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I spoke last month at the Students for Life of America Regional Leadership Summit at UCLA. I spent the first 54-minutes speaking about bodily rights arguments, and you can download that audio here. I spent the last 24-minutes talking about life-threatening pregnancies and taking questions.

My thinking on this subject is heavily influenced by my friend Trent Horn at Catholic Answers. Trent has done a lot of research and great thinking on this subject, and the material I presented is largely based on what Trent has written on the subject that I subsequently agreed with.

After arguing that we should treat both mother and child as patients and that in late-term situations, we can usually save both, I explain that there are still some cases where we cannot save both, particularly in tubal pregnancies.

I respond to the concern that tubal pregnancies aren’t really that risky, and offer a real-world example when it was also justified to put an innocent human being’s life in perilous risk.

Click here to download the free 24-minute MP3 file on life-threatening pregnancies.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

My work has never been about radically changing the pro-life movement. Instead I’ve merely wanted to help us tweak the way we communicate, in order to help us connect better and ultimately persuade the pro-choice people we talk to.

While I spoke at the Students for Life Conference following the West Coast Walk for Life, I didn’t make it to the walk itself this year. However a good friend of mine named Jen Serban did go, and she had a concern about some of the signs and chants that were being used by the pro-lifers. I’m going to post those thoughts below with Jen’s permission, and then I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on whether any change would be good. I’m always impressed with the thoughtful people who read this blog, and I think an amazing discussion could be had on this subject.

What a great event the Walk for Life is! Especially having people from all backgrounds, representing different faiths or no faith at all! It is wonderful to see such a large group of diverse people standing in the gap for the unborn and their families.

There was one thing, however, that bothered me during the walk. It began when we walked past a big group of pro-choice protesters. They were on the sides yelling their standard slogans at the people participating in the walk. Of course, their rallying cry’s were of varying accuracy and vulgarity, but some of their signs were actually quite compelling and deserving of pause and consideration.

However, the group that I happened to be walking with took a different approach. They began chanting, “Pro-life! Pro-life! Pro-life!”

At first I thought about how great unity is. Then it really started to bother me.

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JoshBrahm-BodilyRightsSpeech-300x218 (1)I just posted a recording of my presentation of the “de facto guardian” argument at the Students for Life of America Regional Leadership Summit at UCLA. This is an updated version since the speech audio I posted last year. There are some changes to the way we frame the argument now, that I make clear towards the end of the speech.

I described both types of bodily rights arguments, discussed the most common pro-life responses to the violinist analogy and why they are unpersuasive to many pro-choice atheists, and then explained the de facto guardian argument that may solve this problem.

This is the first part of a two-part speech. I was asked to talk about bodily rights arguments as well as responding to life of the mother cases. This is just the audio from the bodily rights portion of the speech. You can download the second part here..

Click here to download the free 56-minute MP3 file on bodily rights arguments.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

I got a great question from a colleague recently, and wanted to share my thoughts with you. If you have something to add, I’d love to read them in the comments!

The question was this: If a girl comes up and says that Roe vs. Wade has improved her life, and talks about all the things she has been able to do after an abortion like go to college, what do you think is the best way of responding to that?

Excellent question. Off the top of my head, I think I’d say something like this:

I’m glad that you didn’t suffer any physical complications of your abortion, and that you aren’t suffering from the depression that some of my friends who are also post-abortive have experienced.

Let me ask you a question that’s a little more philosophical though. Do you think there any other factors that people should consider as they try to assess whether abortion is morally right or wrong? Do you think that if some women are not negatively affected by abortion, that proves that abortion is morally neutral?

What I’m doing here is trying to lead her to discussing other things besides whether a particular woman is happy or sad about her abortion. I want to get us talking about the central question of the abortion debate: is the unborn a valuable human being or not? We could demonstrate that abortion is wrong even if every single post-abortive woman had positive feelings about her abortion.

You could also have a discussion about the difference between right/wrong and wise/foolish. Arguably, some pro-life slogans make a stronger case that abortion is foolish, that it’s not a wise decision because of how it affects some women and society. I think women should consider whether abortion is not a wise decision, but we also want them thinking about how some things can be wrong even if they don’t affect us negatively. For example, the head of a corporation that irreparably harms the environment or kills whales around Antarctica may not feel any guilt from that, and he may not suffer any loss in profit either. Yet it may still be immoral to harm whales or the environment in that way. (That would probably be a more helpful example than a plantation owner who doesn’t feel bad about owning slaves.)

Here’s what I would never do: Say that you don’t believe the person in front of you. “But everybody is affected by abortion!” “You may not feel guilt yet, but you will later.” Statements like that will not be helpful.

The post “What Should You Say to a Woman Who is Happy That She Had an Abortion?” originally appeared at JoshBrahm.comClick here to subscribe via email and get exclusive access to a FREE MP3 of Josh Brahm’s speech, “Nine Faulty Pro-Life Arguments and Tactics.”

Question: What would you say to a woman who is happy that she had an abortion? Post your thoughts below in the comments!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

I have, for the most part, avoided commenting publicly on Abolish Human Abortion. (From what I hear, fewer and fewer people take them seriously as their anti-Catholic views become more public as well their extreme arguments that the pro-life movement is to blame for abortion being legal.) I feel the need to say something now though, because they just publicly attacked my friends, and they did it with particularly bad reasoning. This blog is about helping pro-life people to become more persuasive and less weird, so let’s attempt to apply some clear thinking to AHA’s attack on Justice For All.

AHA attacks JFA

Click here to see the Facebook post for yourself.

The link is to a video of AHA-member Danny Ehinger talking to a pro-life student who had gone through a previous JFA training, who expressed some concerns about AHA’s activism methods. The student explains that he’s all for getting people talking about abortion, but he felt like there were better results when JFA came on campus because some good conversations had taken place, whereas on this day the classroom discussions were a lot more heated and tended to end with students screaming and nearly getting kicked out of class.

The student expresses a concern about little kids seeing the signs, and encourages AHA to use more questions on their signs to create dialogue as opposed to just putting statements on their graphic signs.

Danny interrupts him and makes a very shrewd debating move:

So, your main concern, from what I’m hearing, is the other students that are getting angry about it.

The student says, “Yeah…” And Danny says,

And so that’s where we have a little bit of a difference. My main concern is the 3,500 babies who are going to be murdered today.

That is so intellectually dishonest. The student’s main concern that he wanted addressed at the moment was the use of the signs and the effect they had on people as well as their dialogues about abortion in the future. That doesn’t mean the student cares more about that than abortion. If Danny had asked the student, “Are you more concerned about abortion or the students who are offended?” I’m sure the student would have said something like, “I’m more concerned about abortion, obviously, which is why I’m concerned about your methods. I want abortion to end as soon as possible, and this doesn’t seem like the way to make that happen.” Instead, Danny takes the opportunity to act like he’s the only one in the conversation who actually cares about abortion, a moment that will make all the AHA fans cheer when they watch it.

Danny mentions checking out JFA’s website and says:

I’m okay with [JFA's] premise of ‘We want to talk intelligibly to people and nicely to people.’ However, my question is the root why, why are they doing what they’re doing?

So this is the analogy I kind of came up with. Imagine if you’re in class, okay? And, there’s 50 students. And you hear gunshots, you see gunfire in your class. You hear people are being killed, okay? Half of the class gets up and says, ‘That’s wrong! We have to stop it!’ The other half of the class gets up and says, ‘No, you should have a right to do it!’ The teacher gets up, and this is what I think Justice For All is doing, ‘Let’s talk about this intelligibly.’ Is that the right behavior when there’s a gunman shooting kids?

And when the student goes to say, “That’s different,” Danny ignores him and restates the original question, which unfortunately gets the student to accept Danny’s premise.

Later, Danny adds this point:

What we need to do as Christians is stop talking about something. Because when we say, if I told you, ‘Do you like this grass?’ We could have a talk about it and we’re elevating the grass, kind of, to a place of it could be good or it could be bad… When our premise is ‘Let’s go and spread how to talk about abortion, we are making abortion higher than it ought to be. What we should be saying is, ‘Abortion is wrong and we ought to end it.’

Here are four problems with AHA attacking JFA with these arguments:

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Trigger warning: This article may contain difficult content for those who have experienced sexual trauma.

A gruesome report on human rights abuses in North Korea was recently released. There are some things that pro-life people may be tempted to say about it that I think would be misguided.

Two weeks ago, Live Action News reported a story that I’ve been processing ever since:

1600px-Flag_of_North_Korea“Yesterday’s United Nations Report on the human rights abuses in North Korea unveiled a level of depravity and cruelty unparalleled in modern society. The 36-page initial report and 372-page report of detailed findings also revealed the systematic murder and persecution of society’s most vulnerable – the unborn and the handicapped.”

The report graphically details how forced abortions are performed by beating the mothers, forcing chemicals into their vagina by hand, and/or using crude surgical instruments without anesthetic.

The entire report is difficult to read, but the part that stood out most was this horrific section:

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Some people will agree with many of your pro-life facts, but they won’t want to become fully pro-life because that would mean condemning their friends who have had abortions. How can you dialogue with them?

I recently lead a conference call with Steve Wagner from Justice For All, training some local pro-life leaders. During the Q&A time, my friend Greg asked about a situation he encountered while talking with somebody about abortion at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia. He said that she was pretty much pro-life, or at least, she wanted to be. She knew a few people who had had abortions though, and she didn’t feel like she could cross the line of believing that they did something that should be illegal. Eventually, they ended up going in circles, and Greg wanted to know what he could have done differently.

The following tips are what Steve and I offered to Greg in the ensuing discussion.

#1: Don’t forget to be relational.

Teenager consoling her friend

Show some genuine concern for them. I find that sometimes this is the easiest thing for pro-life advocates to forget. There’s such a big part of us (understandably) that wants to focus all attention on the unborn, especially after hearing a story of one or more being killed. Fight that urge, and show some concern for women who have had abortions.

Frankly, there will be some cases where you shouldn’t even move to step two. (Although this is probably more true when the issue of rape comes up.) That’s okay. If you’re a Christian you can believe that just as God brought this person in your life for a short while, He can bring other pro-life advocates in her future that will water the seed you planted.

Your friends who had the abortions, how are they doing?

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