The first time my wife and I were told to have an abortion, we were teenagers. We were told that we weren’t ready. We were too young. We’d have to drop out of college. We’d probably get divorced.
Those challenges seemed hard at the time. Yesterday was our first son’s 22nd birthday. He was unplanned, as were both of our daughters. Now, we have another on the way. Any speed bumps we faced with the first three children seem small compared to what lies ahead. Our next baby boy has a severe heart defect that will require multiple open-heart surgeries as soon as he’s born.
As I posted earlier, every doctor should discuss an unborn baby’s health problems like ours did:
We live in Orange County, California. Despite our state’s reputation as hard-left, we live in one of California’s few bastions of conservatism. There are still liberal elements here, as there are everywhere. As the doctor described our baby’s condition and started running down the risks and challenges that lay ahead for us and our son, I braced myself. I knew our doctor would pressure us to have an abortion.
Except, she didn’t. She didn’t tell us not to have one, either.
She laid out the situation kindly and factually, even drawing pictures of our son’s rare condition so we could better understand what he’s facing. Her physician’s smile told of hope for life, while not hinting at any opposition if we chose a different path. In fact, her only mention of abortion came when she told us the deadline to decide based upon California’s 24-week law.
We’ve been pro-life for as long as we’ve been together. Listening to one of our many doctors made me realize something: the pro-life battle must be fought on multiple fronts. I’ve always felt like we need to address it politically to prevent the ease of getting abortions-on-demand while simultaneously fighting the cultural battle to make people, whether they’re religious or not, see life in the womb as life worth preserving. Both of those fronts are important, but it’s bigger than that. The only way to win this war is to achieve true intellectual victory.
This is completely counter-intuitive to accepted pro-life advocacy practices. Emotions have been demonstrated to win people over which is why one of the most powerful tools is the ultrasound. Abortionists fear it and anti-abortionists promote it. Here’s the problem with emotional victories. The heart is easier to change than the mind. The way our doctor described the situation made me realize that even pro-lifers can be emotionally driven to abort in certain situations. The road we face is going to be extremely difficult, but our plight will be much lighter than the burden placed on our unborn son. It’s easy to see why people can be compelled to choose abortion in such situations even if they’d never consider a frivolous abortion.
The intellectual battle for abortion is relatively uncharted territory. Until recent years, it didn’t make sense to even attempt because there were too many questions about “how human” an unborn child is. Today, we have many more answers. We can sense brain activity to the point of knowing when unborn babies dream. We know when the feel pain. We can see the tiniest details at every stage of their formation. In short, today we have the ability to make the intellectual case for personhood that’s devoid of emotional or religious leanings.
That doesn’t mean we need to stop fighting the cultural or political battles, nor does it mean we should stop using emotion or religion to make the case. It means that we can and should add an intellectual component to our repertoire. At this early stage, I’m not sure what that even looks like. I have some ideas, but I’d love to hear others. The one thing I know for sure is this: I was pro-life before I was forced to consider the situation intellectually and doing so made me even firmer in my beliefs. It’s clear to me that those who may lean pro-life could use fortification of their beliefs while those who lean pro-abortion could be brought over.
In other words, the far right and far left on the issue are unlikely to change, but for those in the middle, a proper intellectual argument may be what it takes to pull them to the right.
Every day, people are hit with news that can shake their perspectives. As we continue to fight the cultural and political battles, adding an intellectual component to the mix can be the edge we’ve been seeking since Roe v. Wade.