By Dave Andrusko
As we approach NRLC 2019, which begins July 5 in Charleston, South Carolina, like everyone else at NRLC, I am preparing for an incredible exchange of ideas and a jolt of energy. As time permits, I am working on a workshop I am part of that will address the art of persuasion.
By the use of analogy and righteous indignation we can help people think outside the usual parameters. The following is a fine example, written by Russell Nieli that appeared at The Public Discourse under the arresting title of “Bringing Marx into the Abortion Debate.”
As the summary of his argument reproduced at the top maintains, “Two points can best persuade young people about abortion: our need for laws that protect the weak and vulnerable and the deadening of conscience that often accompanies pro-choice sentiment.”
Nieli tells us that years ago he was part of a six-person debate panel on the Princeton University campus. The pro-choice seemingly had heavier hitters, including two” high-profile senior Princeton faculty.”
From the start, however, the pro-life side began to capture the hearts and minds of listeners with a shared theme that resonated well with the largely college-student audience. A major purpose of law, we stressed, was to protect the lives and wellbeing of the weak and vulnerable. And who could be weaker and more vulnerable than the tiniest of human beings not yet out of their mothers’ wombs?
Nieli and his debate partners used a number of illustrations—slaves, abused women, even endangered species—to help their audience move past the usual clichés about “choice.” People—young or old—intuitively respond to the notion that it is wrong—wrong–to exploit the powerless.
So where does Karl Marx fit in? He no longer is popular even on most college campuses, so, on first blush, it was an odd choice.
Nieli told the students that Marx “understood better than most thinkers before or after him how people’s self-interest can warp their moral sense to the point that they are rendered incapable of discerning and acknowledging right from wrong.”
“Self-interest” in the abortion context doesn’t refer to anything economic. It refers to our frailties as human beings.
Knowing that we all have our breaking points is one of many reason why pro-lifers are not judgmental toward women who have aborted. We understand that often these women were under enormous pressure—up to and including coercion—and that (already panic-stricken) the allure of “solving the problem” with the “quick” answer of abortion blinds them to the moral gravity of the act they are about to commit.
Take five minutes and read Nieli’s fine piece. You’ll be glad you did.