By Monica Snyder, Executive Director, Secular Pro-Life
I have a quick and easy way you can do pro-life work in your day-to-day life.]
There’s a certain kind of pro-choice person who takes for granted that the pro-choice worldview represents all that is educated, enlightened, secular, democratic, and forward-thinking, and that all good and decent people will, of course, be pro-choice.
This person is the type who will start espousing pro-choice talking points in mixed company without considering whether those around him feel the same way. We’ve variously had people start repeating pro-abortion bumper sticker nonsense in the break room at work, in college classes, at the doctor’s office, and over Thanksgiving dinner. It happens everywhere.
If you find yourself in this situation, with an unthinking person raising the abortion issue in mixed company, it’s important that you speak up. You don’t have to have encyclopedic knowledge of the abortion debate. You don’t even have to argue at all. Just memorize this sentence: “I don’t want to argue about this, but for the record, I disagree.”
What is the point (you may wonder) of identifying yourself as pro-life, if you don’t intend to actually make your case? There are so many reasons speaking up is crucial. Here’s a list:
1. Identifying yourself as pro-life helps destroy stereotypes.
This is especially true if you’re a non-traditional pro-lifer, as you can help others realize anyone from any walk of life can (and should!) oppose abortion.
But identifying yourself as pro-life can undermine stereotypes even if you are the more traditional conservative Christian pro-life person. Stereotypes are destroyed through friendships. It’s harder for someone to stereotype you when they know you as a full, complex human being, and as someone they like and get along well with.
If you let your pro-choice friends know you’re pro-life, when they hear absurd stereotypes (“Anti-choicers hate women and sex and freedom!”), they can pause and think of you. And (hopefully) they’ll think “Hm. I don’t think my friend hates women and sex and freedom. Maybe…those are stupid talking points.”
Without even making an argument, you’re helping normalize opposition to abortion just by ensuring people who know and like you are aware that you oppose abortion.
2. Identifying yourself as pro-life creates strategic tension.
At Secular Pro-Life, we have heard countless stories of pro-lifers–especially those who belong to predominantly pro-choice demographics–taking great care to avoid letting anyone know they oppose abortion, much less that they do any activist work on the issue. Many pro-lifers learn to be very subtle and deferential about this topic in order to avoid social ostracization or academic or professional repercussions.
There typically doesn’t appear to be an equivalent caution on the pro-choice side. Pro-choicers will start speaking easily and carelessly about supporting abortion without appearing to even consider whether those around them feel the same way about the issue. So here is your rule of thumb:
If you’re going to be uncomfortable, make sure you’re not the only one.
Stating in the moment, and particularly in front of other people, that you disagree can cause tension. And that’s okay. In fact, half the time, that’s the point. We want the general nominally pro-choice public to understand that those of us who oppose abortion aren’t just some far flung demographic they hear about from their favorite late night comedy host. Pro-lifers are their friends, family, and members of their community. We’re everywhere. And we’re watching, and we’re listening, and we’re not impressed.
3. Identifying yourself as pro-life creates opportunities.
If your pro-choice friends know you’re pro-life, they know they can come to you to discuss abortion opposition if they want to.
Until recently, I spent most of my adulthood among highly educated Californians. Often I was the only pro-life friend they had (that they knew of, anyway). And from time to time, one of my pro-choice friends would turn to me for discussion on this issue. “What do you think about overpopulation? What do you think about the rape exception? What’s all this about ‘heartbeat bills’?”
Being friends with a pro-lifer gave them the opportunity–when they were ready–to talk about this issue outside their more typical echo chambers. But they were only able to take that opportunity because I had already identified myself as pro-life to them.
If you do want to argue about it…
I said you don’t have to have encyclopedic knowledge of the abortion debate to make your stand, and that’s true. Simply letting people know you’re anti-abortion accomplishes a lot all by itself.
But if you want encyclopedic knowledge of the debate, we can give you that with our Abortion Debate Index. We are all for the debate if you’re into it. Our index contains dozens of common pro-choice talking points and our content responding to them. Please use any and all of it that you find helpful.