I hope you will approach this opinion article with an open mind because at the core of it is charity. I know these ideas may anger some and will be unpopular with others, but I truly do think this is something we as Christians need to consider if we are to convince others of our cause. Properly informing others of the immovable Truth is perhaps the only way we will outlaw abortion in our country and world. People say unpopular but true things all the time.
Additionally, I will be critiquing various types of pro-life organizations. This does not mean I disrespect or think less of them. In fact, I love them and give my money to them! However, I’m attempting to express my observations as objectively as possible. We did critiques in art school all the time and they were never meant to tear down the person’s dignity and value (at least I never intended that). We all have areas we can improve upon.
Lastly, I will be making some generalizations and assumptions about groups of people. I know some are extra sensitive to this, but I do this out of my personal experience and what I observe to be the trend. Everyone is different, but many people are also the same.
And with that, let’s begin.
Who I am
For those of you who have gotten to know me, you know that my faith to the Catholic Church is the most important thing in my life. I strive to follow the teachings of the Church, even when they’re uncomfortable. I allow the Church to have such power over my life because firstly, I believe it to be established by Jesus Christ himself, the Creator of the Universe and the Gate to Heaven. God, who is also Jesus Christ (No, I’m not going to go into Trinity theology right now, sorry), wrote moral and Natural Law. Sacred Scripture (inspired by God) clearly states living according to those morals leads to Heaven. I don’t know about you, but I would like to get to Heaven, so I’m going to do the Jesus thing as best as I can.
Secondly, no other establishment has lasted as long as the Catholic Church. Take a look at the history of the Church: scandalous popes, heretical periods of time, and the Reformation; the only way it could have survived this long is because of the Holy Spirit.
Because of these two reasons, I know the Church is the True Church and I place all of my trust in it. What authority do I, a non-expert in philosophy and theology (also a finite human), have to decide the guardrails of morality when I have already been handed the rulebook? It’s like trying to assemble Ikea furniture without the directions. You’re probably going to do it wrong and wreck it in the process.
The Church’s stance on abortion is clear: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception” (CCC 2270). Abortion is a grave offense to the dignity and value of human life. The Church is right on this beyond the spiritual reasons. There is deep theology, philosophy, and obvious science behind it all. I don’t think there is any good reason to intentionally end a human life in the womb.
So thus far, we’ve established I am a faithful, practicing Catholic and I am against abortion. Let’s move on.
The Pro-Life Culture is Too Christian
With all of that being said, I feel peace and solidarity when I’m with fellow Catholics. It means I’m not alone in my “extreme” beliefs. I love noticing Relevant Radio bumper stickers on other cars on the road. I delight in seeing someone wearing a Miraculous Medal at the grocery store.
I am all for pro-life rallies and organizations. They do incredible work. It seems like all of them have Christian ideals woven into their identities. Some of them even have the Nicene Creed right on their values page. I went to a pro-life conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Most, if not all, of the booths were Catholic or Christian and much of the keynote was all about our dignity in Christ referencing the Catholic Church. I watched the March for Life in 2020 and from what I remember, much of the coverage had references to Christianity.
All of this bothers me.
So, I’ve told you I’m a passionate, practicing Catholic and I am against abortion, but seeing Christianity throughout the pro-life movement bugs me... What?
Let me explain.
Passion and Context
I totally get it. I love expressing and sharing my faith, too. You should see me when I run Catholic Young Adult events at my parish. I'm passionate about sharing the Truth of the Church, the Truth that applies to everyone no matter what they think, like how 2+2 will always equal 4 for everyone. You can deny it and say it’s 5, but you’ll get a lower grade on your test. Remember Natural Law.
Most of the time, people still approach the concept of Truth through a religious lens. Sometimes there’s a time and place for citing God in our arguments, but sometimes there is not. When approaching a debate about the dignity of life (or any topic, for that matter), the question we must ask is to whom are talking to?
Consider the Other Side
Consider the demographics on the pro-choice side. It’s safe to say many of them aren’t religious people, with 61% admitting they never went to a place of worship during 2020. If a group of people aren’t interested in religion, how could someone who isn’t going to church buy into reasoning that has religious undertones? Furthermore, how could they understand it?
Additionally, consider pro-lifers who are atheists themselves. They exist! How do you think an atheist would have felt going to that conference in Ohio? Stereotyped and disappointed. Stereotyped because the community assumes that all atheists are militantly pro-choice and disappointed that not more objectively scientific, social, and financial reasons against abortion were discussed.
Speak Spanish to a Spaniard
Here’s what I propose: Speaking in a language the other side is more likely to understand.
Let me tie this into my profession. Imagine I wanted to convince a CEO it’s worth paying me to do a logo with a five-digit price tag. Saying, “A creative logo is worth it because good design makes people feel good,” wouldn’t convince this person. This person doesn’t care about design looking good. They’re generally concerned with their bottom line. For this person who is likely an analytical thinker, I would use language this person understands: “Good design has been proven to cut operation costs by 5% and increase revenue by 15%. Here are a few case studies to prove this.” By using language that this person understands and speaking to subjects they care about, I will have a much easier time convincing this person of “buying” into a risk. I believe I came across this concept in How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
So, let’s circle back to the pro-life movement. Our ultimate goal is to convince people to change their minds about abortion. We can go about this by citing religion. However, using Bible verses probably isn’t going to be effective in changing the mind of a militant pro-choicer who may be an atheist. They probably couldn’t care less about what the Bible says. They may even try to use it against you. I propose we change the language from what we’re most comfortable with to a language they can understand. More people readily relate to objective truths than theological truths anyway.
Pro-choicers can’t poke holes in the credibility of scientific claims and statistics like they can with the Bible. Sure, you could argue they might respond to logical facts with, “Was that a controlled group? Was it conducted by an unbiased organization?” but I’m betting you they’ll still take you more seriously when you use facts instead of the Bible.
There are so many powerful arguments we can use, I’m shocked we don’t use them more. Let me share a few I’ve heard over the years. Not everything has a study cited. My primary goal in sharing these with you is to prove there are many more non-religious directions we can go. I’ll leave it up to you to seek out more specific information.
Women (and men for some of these points) who go through with an abortion are more likely to experience:
Miscarriage in later pregnancies
The fetus has unique DNA from the mother
They were founded on racist ideals
Have you considered how profitable abortion is and perhaps PP is trying to make as much money as possible, no matter the moral expense?
Why not work to fix the foster and adoption systems instead of working to forward women’s “rights”?
The Definition of Charity
There are two options. Either the secular pro-life movement grows bigger and asserts a louder presence or the current movement adjusts their language. I propose we think about how we say things because that is what we can control.
The Catechism states that “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC 1822, emphasis added). Above all, I think bringing people to Truth is an act of charity, like informing a child not to touch a hot stove. They might not like it, but it’s for their own health. The hot stove will hurt them, whether they agree or disagree about its dangers. What I’m proposing is modifying the way we inform the “child” as a further act of charity. Reciting scientific facts rather than our conviction for the faith might be uncomfortable for us, but that’s what love tends to feel like. A previous March for Life theme's "Pro-life is Pro-Science" is on the right track, but let's take the next step. Christ’s love always takes another step deeper into love. Just look at the cross. Let us go a step further for one another. It will be a sign to others of our love of God.
Thank you for giving this a read. I am grateful you’ve had the patience to consider all of my thoughts on this topic. It’s been on my heart for a while. What do you think? Let’s continue the conversation, but please keep it respectful!