How to Defend Pro Life Beliefs

Five Methods:Arguing Ethical and Scientific IssuesArguing Legal IssuesArguing Women's Rights IssuesDismissing RhetoricDebating Well

Abortion is a hotly debated topic today. It can be filled with strong and deep-rooted beliefs and emotions recalcitrant to even the most persuasive logic. While defending your pro-life views may seem a difficult or intimidating task, the pro-life position, unlike the pro-choice side, is built around simple scientific, logical, and moral concepts that are not hard to understand or share with others. The best thing you can do is to arm yourself with facts and deliver them in the language of your audience. This article will help you acquire some strategies to make your best arguments against abortion.

Method 1
Arguing Ethical and Scientific Issues

  1. 1
    Ask pro-abortion activists if they are in favor of killing already born babies and children, just because the mother considers them a burden and want to get rid of them. If they say no, then ask why they feel any differently for an unborn child. (If they said yes, continue to ask probing questions to see if they actually have a middle ground in which they consider killing another person to be unethical.) After all, in both cases, we have a living human being who is dependent on the mother for sustenance. If they start making an argument about how "nobody know exactly when life begins", or how the entity in the womb is not yet a "person", make your case as follows:
    • Ask them at what moment they consider a human life begins. At the moment when a human sperm penetrates a human ovum, a new entity called the "Zygote" comes into existence. The zygote is the first cell formed at conception, the earliest developmental stage of the human embryo, followed by the "Morula" and "Blastocyst" stages.[1]
    • The new human zygote has a genetic composition that is absolutely unique, distinct from any other human ever existed, including that of its mother (thereby refuting the claim that what is involved in abortion is merely "a woman and her body").[2]
    • Explain that earliest human embryo is biologically alive. It fulfills the four criteria needed to establish biological life: metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.[3]
    • Is the embryo a human organism or human being? Remind them the scientific definition of an "organism": a complex structure of interdependent elements constituted to carry on the activities of life by separately-functioning but mutually dependant organs.[4] The zygote easily meets this definition. It acts immediately and decisively to initiate a developmental program that will, barring accident, disease, or external intervention, proceed seamlessly through formation of the definitive body, birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, and aging, ending with death. This coordinated behavior is the very hallmark of an organism.[5]
    • By stark contrast, a mere collection of human cells may carry on the activities of cellular life, but it will not exhibit coordinated interactions directed towards a higher level of organization.
  2. 2
    Mention that we are either persons or properties. Ask them if they don't consider the unborn baby to be a human being, would they consider them a mere piece of property?
  3. 3
    Provide more facts on human development. Sometimes, a quick recitations of the facts of human development will weaken the "not yet a person" mentality.
    • The cardiovascular system is the first major system to function. At about 22 days after conception, the child's heart begins to circulate his own blood, distinct from that of his mother's, and his heartbeat can be detected on ultrasound.[6]
    • At just six weeks, the child's eyes and eye lids, nose, mouth, and tongue have formed.
    • Electrical brain activity can be detected at six or seven weeks,[7] and by the end of the eighth week, the child, now known as a "fetus," has developed all organs and bodily structures.[8]
    • By ten weeks after conception, the child can make bodily movements.
  4. 4
    Remind them that the unborn baby have feelings of his own and can respond to his environment. An unborn child may move away from the instrument that is going to end its life in an abortion. By twenty weeks of gestation, a baby will react physically to outside stimuli such as sound, light and touch.[9]
    • “At 20 weeks, the fetal brain has the full complement of brain cells present in adulthood, ready and waiting to receive pain signals from the body, and their electrical activity can be recorded by standard electroencephalography (EEG).” - Dr. Paul Ranalli, neurologist, University of Toronto
    • An unborn baby at 20 weeks gestation “is fully capable of experiencing pain. … Without question, [abortion] is a dreadfully painful experience for any infant subjected to such a surgical procedure.” - Robert J. White, M.D., PhD., professor of neurosurgery, Case Western University

Method 2
Arguing Legal Issues

  1. 1
    Explain what "Roe v. Wade" really meant. Most people do not actually know what the Supreme Court decided on January 22, 1973. They assume that the Court legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy only, and that it is subject to the limits and regulations today. You will be able to change minds when you inform them that neither of these assumptions is true.
    • The Court ruled that abortion must be permitted for any reason a woman chooses until the child becomes viable; after viability, an abortion must still be permitted if an abortion doctor deems the abortion necessary to protect a woman's "health,"[10]
    • Essentially, Roe created an absolute right to abortion under which any abortion can be justified. Cite statistics to show that only a minority of Americans agree with Roe:
      • 61% of Americans say abortion should be illegal after the fetal heartbeat has begun,[11]which occurs in the first month of pregnancy.
      • 86% of Americans say abortion should be illegal after the first 6 months of pregnancy.[12]
      • Only 6% -17% of Americans believe abortion should be legal at any time, under all circumstances.[13]
    • The law clerk of Justice Blackmun, the Justice who authored the Roe v. Wade opinion, calls it "one of the most intellectually suspect constitutional decisions of the modern era."[14]
    • Even the extreme left justice Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been critical of Roe, saying that it "ventured too far in the change it ordered and presented an incomplete justification for its action"[15] and that the Roe decision was "not the way courts generally work."[16]

Method 3
Arguing Women's Rights Issues

  1. 1
    If they argue that we ought to respect a woman's choice, point out that in many cases, abortion is far from a woman's choice. The website established by a woman who had five abortions provides a place for women to help each other cope with the aftermath of their abortions. The website has millions of posts, telling stories of how they were coerced into aborting their children by boyfriends, husbands, friends, and family. They describe how abortion was far from being a choice. They speak of overwhelming guilt, nightmares, excessive drinking, drug abuse, promiscuity, an inability to form or maintain relationships, difficulty bonding with later children, and other ways in which they are suffering. Ask them to visit this site and read their stories to know the real impact of abortion on women.
  2. 2
    Explain why being pro-life is being a true feminist. Abortion advocates are threatened by the pro-life arguments of the organization Feminists for Life which says abortion is a reflection that society has failed to meet the needs of women.[17] Pro-life feminists are destroying the old "baby vs. woman" dichotomy that has dominated the abortion debate for decades. Women and children are not natural enemies, of course; it was a perversion of feminism which brought about such a dichotomy in the first place.

Method 4
Dismissing Rhetoric

  1. 1
    Compare something you know for sure is a living thing to something you know is definitely not. Take a snowball. If you roll it down a hill, it grows and develops. However, it isn't made of cells, can't reproduce, and can't respond to its environment. How about a leopard? It is made of cells, it grows and develops from a cub to an adult, it can make babies, and it responds to its environment. If they bring up a woman who is infertile, say that women as a species can reproduce, it's just that a deformity causes some women to be infertile.
  2. 2
    Consider that everyone who ever walked the earth was able to live because their parents didn't have an abortion. There are even some that have survived an abortion and are still living today. If you have an abortion, you may forever wonder who your baby might have grown up to be; you may have just deprived the world of a great artist, political leader, scientist, important military leader, violent criminal, etc. Everyone deserves a chance to make the world a better place.
  3. 3
    Ask them to imagine for a minute that they are a fetus: Pretend you understand human speech and can hear your mother talking. She wants to get an abortion. You want to say, "Mommy, don't kill me," but she can't hear you. It may seem silly, but, you were a fetus a long time ago. And, whether or not you believe a fetus is a human being, you would not be here right now if your mother had an abortion. Or, maybe you would.
  4. 4
    If they try to argue that even if abortion was illegal, we could not prevent women from having abortions, remind them the exact same argument could be used to stop anything from becoming illegal. To turn it around, if murder was legalized, more people would be like "Oh then it must be okay to do it!" Same for abortions, if it became illegal, people would think, "It must be illegal for a reason." Plenty of people get abortions without thinking it through thoroughly. Sadly, many just see it as a shortcut - they've never been told that it might possibly be wrong.
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    If they argue that a woman should be able to control her own body, explain that the fertilized egg is not her body, rather, it is, conceivably a separate human being. After all, if it was part of her body, that would mean the mother has 2 hearts, 4 legs, 4 arms, and 2 heads for almost 9 months of her life!
  6. 6
    If they argue that abortions are mostly done for health reasons or in case of rape, remind them that only 7 percent of women report that their abortion was due to a health reason or a possible health problem with the baby, and less than half a percent report that their abortion was because they became pregnant as a result of rape, which means the vast majority, 93 percent, of abortions in America are purely elective -- done on healthy women to end the lives of healthy children.[18]

Method 5
Debating Well

  1. 1
    Use your own reasons and arguments based on your own personal belief and experience. These may be your strongest arguments. Nobody knows you better than you.
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    Refer to the fertilized egg as "he" or "she", not "it." Subtly refer to the fertilized egg as a human being, not a thing.
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    Where is the line? When does a fertilized become "human?" Is it not the moment it is conceived? Does the baby suddenly snap from a funny-looking-fetus-thing to a human being at the second trimester? Show them 4D ultrasounds of babies during the allowed abortion time. It looks like, what? A baby?
  4. 4
    Continue to argue to a point, but know when to stop. If you are unable to convince the other person, the two of you may have to simply agree to disagree.
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    Be respectful and professional. Don't say things such as "I'm right and you're stupid." You'll look immature and give a bad image for your cause. Especially if you're talking to a woman who is in the process of deciding.
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    If you're talking to a woman who is asking you whether she should abort her baby, be very very comforting. Even if you believe that it isn't her choice to make, bashing her will only make her resent you and your beliefs. But if she asks you for reasons why she shouldn't abort:
    • Discuss the reasons listed above.
    • If it's that she can't afford to care for the baby (which is usually the case), encourage her to have the baby and either put him or her up for adoption or drop him or her at a safe haven.
    • If it's that the baby is ill and might not make it anyway, remind her that he/she might not live if he/she is born, and will not live if aborted.
    • If the issue is that if she carries through with the pregnancy she has a risk of dying in the process: this is a very touchy subject and it's not so much a pro-life or pro-choice argument.


  • Don't raise your voice to yell. Try to talk calmly and to the point.
  • Don't insult the other person.
  • When talking about rights, remember that there are three people involved in a pregnancy. The mother, the father, and the baby. Why is it that the baby's right to life is forgotten? If you think about it, the word "pro-choice" is a misnomer, because the most important person involved, the child, has its "choice" to live destroyed along with the rest of its tiny body.
  • Remember the woman who originally sued over the right to have an abortion changed her mind and is no longer pro-choice.
  • If you're pro life because of your religion, you can use those spiritual texts against abortion.
  • Question questionable sources. Remember that Planned Parenthood and National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (N.A.R.A.L.) are major abortion advocacy groups. and the Huffington Post openly favor abortion. These are agenda-driven organizations, not fact driven ones. It is okay to challenge claims made by them, especially if those claims run counter to information from the CDC, national medical organizations, or major university studies.


  • In an informal setting, other person may try to upset you on purpose. Be cautious when engaged with a hostile opponent. The following strategies may be helpful when engaging someone who is hostile to your views.
    • Do not be harsh or unnecessarily critical, even if your opposite in the discussion calls you names or otherwise provokes you. Though abortion is wrong, it is entirely possible to argue against it without painting those who support it as evil or intrinsically bad.
    • Remain calm and polite. It is sometimes difficult to remain calm when engaged on a subject about which you are passionate. However, it is easier to clearly and cogently express yourself from a calm, polite demeanor than an angry one, especially when confronted with a hostile opponent.
    • Do not repeat any misogynist or demeaning language. In informal debate, pro-life persons are sometimes characterized as wanting to turn women into "breeders" or other anti-woman stereotypes. Do not echo the use of misogynist language, even when such language is employed satirically to attack you. When possible, politely point out that it is inappropriate to use anti-woman slurs under any circumstances. Use the same strategy if demeaning language is used to refer to disabled unborn people, such as those with Down Syndrome.

Sources and Citations

  1. Marjorie A. England, "What Is An Embryo?" in Life Before Birth, Marjorie A. England (London: Mosby-Wolfe, 1996).
  2. Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 1998): 77, 350.
  3. Carl Sagan, Billions and Billions (New York: Random House, 1997): 163-179. See The American Heritage Medical Dictionary: "The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism." The American Heritage Medical Dictionary, reprint edition (May 7, 2008), s.v. "Life."
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Categories: Christian Activism | Human Rights