Two days ago, I was standing across from a high school in Calgary, holding a sign showing a 10-week old pre-born child, pulled apart in an abortion. A young man was crossing the street but at such an angle that I needed to overextend my reach, offering my brochure, as I projected my voice, “Hey, what do you think about abortion?”
Interested, he changed direction and took the brochure as he came up onto the sidewalk. He told me that he didn’t think that abortion was good. “Great! He’s already pro-life!” I thought. It can seem so natural to let a fellow like this continue on his way. He may even think he’s wasting my time by staying to talk. But I needed to continue this conversation because one of the greatest assets of the pro-choice movement is complacent pro-lifers. As Edmund Burke is attributed to saying: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We need boots on the ground to show the broken bodies of pre-born children to our culture. We cannot do it alone. We need every pro-lifer to recognize the severity of the situation and to answer to their responsibility for their youngest neighbours.
The four key words I use as reminders in this type of conversations are: Confirm, Educate, Convict, Ask.
Confirm. I needed to confirm with Kyle* that he is pro-life in all circumstances: “Are there any exceptions where you think abortion would be okay?” Sometimes, a person may tell you they are pro-life but have exceptions, such as in the case of rape or when the mother’s health is at risk. There is a crisis and they’re not sure how to fix it. We need to address their concerns here before moving on.
Educate. Kyle didn’t believe there were any exceptions and so I continued, “Are you aware of what the current situation is in Canada?” He wasn’t so I shared with him, “In Canada there is no protection for pre-born children. This means a woman can have an abortion throughout all 9 months of pregnancy for any reason or for no reason at all. This leads to nearly 300 children being killed every single day!” For many, this is shocking news.
Convict. Statistics alone don’t work very well to make us feel a need for action. I wanted to give him something tangible, something he could relate to, so I drew an analogy: “300 is a lot of kids but it can be hard to grasp how much that is. Think about an average size kindergarten class, 25-30 kids, right?” He nodded. “Now imagine going into their classroom and shooting them all in the head. That would be devastating! But you are still going to go to 9 more schools across Canada and do the same thing today. And then it will all happen again tomorrow.” I paused to allow Kyle to reflect on the extent of what we’re dealing with. I needed to ask him a couple of very important questions that all pro-lifers should ask themselves: “What do we do when we know this is going on? What would we do if 300 parents were bringing their toddlers to a clinic to have them killed?” I paused to let him answer in his head.
This entire time I’ve been watching his body language, how he is responding to the urgency of the situation. Sometimes a person will be glancing distractedly down the street, quite complacent, as I make my appeal for him/her to help protect these vulnerable children. Other times, a tear is trickling down their cheeks as a deep sorrow hits their hearts. Different people are at different places. Kyle was very seriously considering my words. I continued, “If you don’t do something and I don’t do something, who will? Until people take action, little boys and little girls like this—I point to the child on my sign—will continue to be killed.” Understanding is written on Kyle’s face.
Ask. I can see he recognizes the urgency and so it is my opportunity to make a final request, “It’s so important that we educate people about abortion. My friend, Rachel, works with volunteers here in Calgary. She makes sure they are trained so they can do what I’m doing here today. We also do other projects like delivering postcards with these pictures. We have a training session this Saturday. Would you be interested in coming?” He eagerly agreed and gave me his contact information to put in my phone so I could pass it on to Rachel later that day. I thanked him for his time and wished him a great day.
Then another young man, Chad*, stopped to talk. He thought abortion was ethically wrong but because there are so many difficult circumstances, women should be able to have the option of abortion. At the end of our conversation, he still hadn’t shifted much in his opinion but he told me he needed to think about it more.
In the meantime, Kyle had come back from picking up fast food and was standing off to the side. I thought maybe he had a question but after I thanked Chad for his time, he joined Kyle to walk across the street. I didn’t hear much of their exchange, but what I did hear was Kyle’s question: “But do you believe in human rights?”
*names changed for confidentiality of the students