After years of working at information booths at small-town fairs for Right to Life of Michigan, I had convinced myself that I could handle any pro-death individual who might approach our table to argue the merits of abortion on demand. I had been tested many times, and although I can’t say that I saw any miraculous conversions, at least I was sure that I had “held my own” and presented the pro-life position cogently and accurately.
And then last week as I worked at one of these booths, I saw a woman make a beeline from across the street to our table and look at our display of fetal models and various pamphlets. She then turned toward me and began a conversation that went something like this:
Woman: Is there a Planned Parenthood booth somewhere around here?
Me: No, they never come to these things.
Woman: Oh, that’s too bad because I’m pro-choice.
Me: I’m sorry to hear that.
Woman: Well, I used to work at a medical facility, and if you had seen the carnage women had done to their bodies with coat hangers to end their pregnancies, you would think differently.
Me: A baby died in the process.
Woman: As a matter of fact, I don’t think a man should have any say in what a woman does with her body.
Me: As a citizen, I have a right to participate in political discourse. You would disenfranchise me simply because I’m a man? How can that be fair?
Woman: Usually, I get irate about this, but I’m being very nice.
Me: I’m always nice.
Woman: You are being nice. Well, we’ll never convince each other to think differently, so I guess we’ll just agree to disagree.
At this point our conversation somehow turned to education, and we discovered that we were both retired teachers. In fact, she knew someone that I knew, so when we parted ways, we did so civilly.
Now some of you reading the dialogue may say that I handled the situation rather well. It was okay, but I was disappointed. I should responded to the “coat-hanger” argument more effectively. I was aware that the claim of thousands of women dying each year from such self-inflicted abortions was bogus. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an early proponent of legalized abortion, admitted that the number (10,000 per year) was taken out of thin air to garner support for the cause. But what should I have said after that? To find the answer, I turned to deathroe.com. Aside from a clever title, the website has an extensive section of answers to pro-death arguments. Its response to the “women will be killed in back-alley abortions if abortion is made illegal” argument is thorough and even ingenious at times. Let me share some of the highlights with the reader.
I could have pointed out that in 1986 the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute, admitted that in the fifteen years prior to Roe v. Wade, the average number of deaths from illegal abortion in America was 186 (not thousands) per year and dropping rapidly.
Then I could have said that should abortion become illegal, all the “back-alley” abortionists that go into business would be pro-choice. As a matter of fact, every woman who has died or been seriously injured in legal or illegal abortions has been the victim of a pro-choice abortionist. The website states, “. . . when the abortion lobby says, ‘If abortion is made illegal, women will die,’ what they’re actually saying is, ‘If you stop us from killing babies, we’re going to start killing women.’”
Next, I could have suggested that the way to prevent back-alley abortions is for pro-choice advocates to agree not to perform them. I could have followed that by asking the pro-death lobby to join the pro-life lobby in enacting legislation that would require illegal abortionists to be prosecuted in the same way we prosecute hired killers and that anyone who coerces a woman into having an illegal abortion would be considered an accessory to homicide. The website makes this dramatic point:
Of course, these people are never going to agree to this because they never cared about this issue to begin with. They simply wanted to make it look like we are responsible for the pregnant women they are threatening to kill. The fact is, every time one of these radical pro-choice fanatics screams about dirty coat-hangers [sic] and back-alley abortions, the blood is on their hands–not ours.
The website concludes with a clever analogy with the crime of rape. I urge the reader to check it out.
As the title of this article implies, I learned a valuable lesson last week. I learned that I had become complacent in my ability to debate the culture of death, and my complacency prevented me from responding to a challenge in the best manner possible. Therefore, I have determined that if I’m going to consider myself a warrior for life, I had better make sure that my brain is fully engaged and that my sword is always sharp. To do otherwise is to leave the enemy in command of the battlefield.