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In abortion,Devorah Gilman,pro-life

Saving the Pre-Born in a Secular World

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.

You can learn how to make a compelling pro-life case by visiting CCBR’s Pro-Life Classroom. CCBR can also teach you how to communicate with a friend considering an abortion.

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.

  • So if it isn’t a human then what do you say it is? It is a fertilized egg that will (likely) bcoeme a human being.. If a biologist were asked to determine the species would he not conclude it to be human? This very much depends on your definition of the word human . Science is a morally neutral tool to discover/explain/describe the natural world using naturalistic explanations. A species is generally defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring and has similar DNA. I think a biologist would conclude that egg cells, sperm cells, and fertilized egg cells all have human DNA and are of the human species. I think a biologist would look to her moral judgement based on her religion or philosophy as to whether any of these things are a person i.e. human with rights. It is not science that confers human rights, it is moral judgement based on religious belief or moral philosophy applied to the morally neutral science/naturalistic explanations that confers human rights. So again I ask at what point do you say we earn our human rights? First some distinctions. I don’t think there is a single point of human development at which all human rights are conferred onto a person. I think different rights are earned at different stages. For example, the right to vote: our society has deemed a person must reach the age of 18 which is also the age at which many rights are earned. Even the inalienable right of liberty is restricted to parental control before then. But the most basic of rights I think we all agree is the right to life. I think we would all agree that the right to life is conferred onto all persons from the beginning to end of their person-hood. So when does that which is human (has human DNA) bcoeme a person with at the very minimum, the right to life? This depends on the definition of a person (we have also been using the word human here in this context). Dave has offered some candidate definitions:“Most people agree that what makes us human is our ability to reason and to have complex emotions. This sets us above other life forms as we can learn and grow on our journey.”“Self-awareness, free moral agency, speech and symbolic cognition, conscience and the imagination”Now these of course would not suit a newborn babe, much less the fertilized egg, but I don’t think he was going for that kind of definition. But I think the point is, that human thought is what sets us apart from all other beings. I’ll come back to this.I’ll start from the birth side. Surely there is such little difference the day before birth to the day after birth that we must call it murder to end the life of that fetus the day before birth. And once I concede that birth is not where the line can be drawn, then I’m on the slippery slope of what constitutes a person. Unless I jump to the far other side of conception. But does a destroying a fertilized egg truly make it murder because of its potential to bcoeme a baby? I submit that it does not. It does not because it does not have enough person/human characteristics. DNA is not enough and a potential baby is not enough. I reject always and never. This puts me back on the slippery slope (can of worms) of defining a human based on some kind of criteria.I did a little research on what some religious texts teach. The Jewish Talmud teaches that a fetus is not a person and has no rights. There are still Jews against abortion but it does not fall under the murder rule. The Old and New Testaments contain almost nothing specific to prohibiting abortion. The closest I could find is Exodus 21:22 where if there is a fight and a woman bystander should accidentally be injured and as a result miscarry, the assailant must pay a fine. There is a lot of history on this topic, I was surprised at how much and I am only scratching the surface.If a line is to be drawn, it ought to be drawn conservatively, that is on the early side. And there must need be a line drawn for there to be law in the matter. So where is the line drawn in Roe vs. Wade? The woman’s right to reproductive freedom is protected by constitutional guarantees of privacy. But that right is not unqualified. The woman’s right to privacy and the fetus’s right life must be weighed. And the court weighed those rights and priority was given to privacy in the first trimester and life in the third. Their criteria was viability, whether the baby could live outside the womb. The crux was lung function which is not sufficiently developed until about the 24th week (beginning of the sixth month). I reject viability as a coherent criteria for determining person-hood. It is not the ability to breath which makes us human. Also a morality based on technology seems fragile. What if new incubators come out that make it viable for a 4 month old fetus to live outside the womb? It is the ability for human thought which makes us uniquely human. I submit that the earliest onset of human thought in the fetus should be the criteria. This actually happens after the 24th week so the time framing of Roe vs. Wade should hold in order to draw the line conservatively.Now I have offered plenty of arguable points here. I only ask that amongst your arguments you at least address the question of what the definition of a person/human is. And also why is a fertilized egg a person/human?