In late October, I was doing a campus “Choice” Chain with my local community group. I asked a student named Arjun what he thought about abortion, and he told me that he was pro-choice. “Where I come from in India, there are a lot of children who are homeless and living on the street,” he told me with a troubled look. “Sometimes I think, wouldn’t abortion have been better? But maybe things aren’t as bad here in Canada.” Arjun’s response and his demeanour told me something: he wasn’t pro-choice because of a lack of compassion. He was pro-choice because of misguided compassion. I needed to show him both the humanity of pre-born children, and the inhumane nature of abortion as a response to suffering. 

First, I found common ground with him–something I try to do in every conversation, to show the other person that I am listening to them. “It sounds like you care a lot about people who suffer,” I said. “Things may be somewhat better in Canada, but here in London, there are still a lot of homeless people, right?” He nodded in agreement. I then asked him, “Do you ever think, though, that we should solve homelessness by killing all the homeless people, since they are suffering?” “No, that wouldn’t be okay,” he said. “So if we wouldn’t kill born people because of their suffering,” I followed up, “then why would we kill a pre-born child just because she may suffer?” At that point, I gestured down at my sign showing an 11-week-old abortion victim. His eyes went wide as he took in the image, and he said, “I’ve never thought about this.”

We then talked about human rights, and about what abortion did to children like the one pictured on my sign. While he was stunned by the image, he pointed out that killing the pre-born child was perhaps less painful than killing a born child, so wouldn’t abortion be okay? “I think you’re right that a very early embryo probably doesn’t feel pain,” I told him. “But I don’t think that pain alone makes killing wrong. I think it makes killing more wrong, because then it’s like torture.” I challenged him with a question: “Would it be okay, though, to kill born children who are homeless and suffering, as long as we give them anaesthetic first?” “No, definitely not,” he said. He continued to study the image of the dead child in front of him, and I could tell that his horror at abortion was growing. I needed to show him just a bit more that abortion was never a solution to suffering and social problems.

“One of my friends told me an interesting analogy,” I said to him. “Think about an orphanage for a second. The children in an orphanage might not all get adopted and have happy lives, right?” He agreed. “Now imagine,” I said, “that someone decides to light the orphanage on fire with the kids inside. Would our first response be to line up adoptive parents for all the kids? Is that what we’d do while the fire is burning?” “No,” he replied, “we’d save the kids.” “I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this,” I followed up. “Making sure that children have good parents and social support is really important–but it’s not much good to those kids if they’re already dead. First, we need to save the children.” He nodded in understanding. I pointed down at my sign again to drive home the reality of abortion’s violence. “And Arjun, abortion isn’t even like not being able to save kids from the fire. Abortion is like pushing the kids into the fire on purpose.” 

We talked a bit more and I asked him some questions about how he was finding life in Canada. Before he left, I said to him, “Arjun, after everything we’ve talked about, do you think there’s any time when abortion is okay?” “I’d never thought about it before this conversation,” he replied. “Now I think it’s an evil thing. You guys are doing a good thing here.” We shook hands, and he left completely pro-life.

By finding common ground, using analogies, and asking good questions, we can show people like Arjun that the violence of abortion is never the right solution to human suffering. We can show them that alleviating suffering is far better than eliminating sufferers.

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