During this season of Lent I’m walking through the four approaches to pro-life action as suggested by the USCCB’s Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities. With each of the approaches I hope to discuss how we might get involved in tangible and practical ways to “respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life.”1
The Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities begins with Education and offers some essentials for action:
- Biblical and theological foundations that attest to the sanctity and dignity of human life
- Scientific information concerning the humanity of unborn children, especially that made available by modern genetic science and technology
- American founding principles, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence, that reflect unchanging truths about the human person
- Society’s responsibility to safeguard every human life, to defend life by non-violent means wherever possible, and never purposely to destroy innocent human life
- Discussion of effective and compassionate care for those who are terminally ill and for persons with disabilities
- Information about effective, compassionate, and morally acceptable solutions to the very real and difficult problems that can exist for a woman during and after pregnancy, as well as help for those who suffer from the consequences of abortion
- Affirm the value of human life in the manner of its expression as well as the content, seeking to explain and persuade, while showing respect to all who disagree
The bottom line, is that the more someone knows about abortion and human dignity, the less likely they are to have one, or encourage others towards abortion. Furthermore, if we want to make abortion illegal in our country it will take an informed electorate. For people to vote for pro-life candidates who can install pro-life judges, and for us to pass pro-life laws on a state level, it will require a voting public that knows the issue and is appalled by what they know. For us to educate others, it begins with ourselves. Eliminating abortion begins with education and there are many ways to become better educated yourself as you help to educate those around you.
With this in mind, it’s no longer surprising that the pro-abortion movement is so active against providing mothers considering abortion with medically accurate information, ultrasounds, and options.
I’ve gathered a select list of resources to help educate yourself and others on issues of life, but also encourage you to share your favorite resources in the comments below.
Learn the history of abortion in America
Learn about pregnancy
If you know someone who’s pregnant and considering abortion, one of the first resources you should buy for them is National Geographic’s The Biology of Prenatal Development. It’s in and out of availability at Amazon, but it’s one of the strongest medical videos for life. The video does not address the abortion issue, but it effectively removes the arguments of abortion advocates who try to deny the humanity of the unborn. The DVD was produced by the Endowment for Human Development and has been endorsed by dozens of medical school professors and received 11 awards for excellence in research and presentation. Priests for Life intends to make this video available to every pregnancy center, every school, and every parish in America – and you can help!
Learn about the abortion procedure
One of the more grim aspects of education is to become familiar with the abortion procedure itself. This is not a comfortable task. As Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life says, “Only seeing such images can bring us to the kind of indignation needed to sustain the sacrifices that will be necessary to finally bring an end to this injustice.” Though pictures of aborted children are shocking, they are no more shocking than the act of abortion itself. Until you see what abortion does, you will never accurately understand what abortion is. There are some things for which words alone fail to accurately communicate their brutality.
Fr. Pavone’s explanation of the most common abortion procedures: Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) and Suction Curettage is a great place to start. Fr. Pavone shows the instruments used and talks through each procedure along with medical diagrams.
Next, I recommend the 1984 documentary, “The Silent Scream“, where Dr. Bernard Nathanson narrates the abortion of a twelve-week-old fetus as you watch via ultrasound. You can watch the entire 30 minute film on YouTube. The grisly title comes from the fetal movements as the child is poked and dismembered, appearing to cry out in pain. Dr. Nathanson’s own story is also compelling. He founded the National Abortion Rights Action League (now NARAL Pro-Choice America) and has performed thousands of abortions. It was only when he saw an abortion via the ultrasound that he reconsidered his position and led him to direct the Silent Scream.
“Now for the first time we have the technology to see abortion from the victims vantage point. Ultrasound imaging has allowed us to see this. So for the first time we are going to watch a child being torn apart, dismembered, disarticulated, crushed, and destroyed by the unfeeling steel instruments of the abortionist.” Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Silent Scream
And finally, if you can stomach it, the last videos I recommend display the horrifying reality of abortion and its aftermath in grim detail. Warning: These videos are extremely graphic because abortion is an act of violence which kills a baby. Live Action‘s Here’s the Blood and The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform‘s “Choice?” (and Part 2).
“Let us mourn for these children. May our hearts be broken enough for God to enter and stir us to action to defend their lives.” Priests for Life
Learn about alternatives
Many women considering abortion don’t see it as their “choice”, but their only option. But there are countless services eager to help with alternatives. I’ll be covering this in more detail in the upcoming compassion article, but you can start by learning about resources in your community today. If a mother in crisis asks for help, how would you respond?
In my community we have a network of churches who provide baby showers and child care for mothers who choose to keep their children. There are also many pregnancy care centers who provide counseling, charitable items, referrals, education and more. Spend a few minutes today learning about the resources available in your community.
In any case it’s important to know that there are alternatives to abortion. Here are a few options you should know about:
- OptionLine – 1-800-395-HELP (email)
- Birthright – 1-800-550-4900
- Bethany Christian Services – 1-800-BETHANY
- National Life Center – 1-800-848-LOVE
- Several Sources Foundation – 1-800-662-2678
Learn how to effectively communicate to others
Sharpen your skills at making an effective argument in a gracious way.
The following resources will help equip you to address the topic of abortion next time it comes up, and give you the confidence to bring it up in more challenging environments. Live Action has done a great job helping communicate the Answers to Common Challenges. If you’ve ever heard objections like, “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one” or “Overpopulation demands abortion“, this is a great and growing resource. They’ve also interviewed dozens of people in their Perspectives project. These videos can help understand the basic conversations that happen around the topic of abortion. Live Action is great because they reduce the issue to the most essential parts. In most cases there’s no need to get into complex distractions.
Live Action’s talking points are super simple:
- Do you think that abortion is right or wrong?
- When do you think abortion is right or wrong?
- Do you think it’s right to kill an innocent human being?
- If abortion does kill an innocent human being, then would that be wrong?
- What evidence do you have that a fetus is not an innocent human being?
- Do you think that abortion is right or wrong?
Dr. Peter Kreeft has also covered abortion from a philosophical perspective in an approachable way in a great lecture, “Pro-Life Philosophy“, and article, The Apple Argument Against Abortion. In each, he outlines arguments for and against abortion rights, and systematically addresses strengths and weaknesses.
Dr. Kreeft is particularly effective in dealing with the argument from skepticism – one who identifies with the US Supreme Court’s Majority Opinion that “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.”2 He outlines the four logical options for someone considering abortion: 1) the fetus is a person, and you know it, 2) the fetus is not a person and you know it, 3) the fetus is a person and you’re not sure, and 4) the fetus is not a person and you’re not sure. And then shares how U.S. law deals with these scenarios in every other case except abortion.
What is abortion in each of these cases?
The skeptic has just as much reason to for not choosing to support abortion, because they just don’t know. If a demolition crew destroyed a building without checking if anyone was in it they’re guilty of a crime. If someone was killed in that building, they’re guilty of manslaughter. But even if no one was in the building they’re still guilty of criminal negligence.
Offline, there are plenty of great books to recommend. I’ll list a few here:
Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments Expanded & Updated
by Randy Alcorn
The Right to Privacy (Bioethics & Culture)
by Janet E. Smith
Architects of the Culture of Death
by Donald De Marco and Benjamin Wiker
10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help
by Benjamin Wiker
Educate the world!
In the upcoming “Advocacy” article, I will outline different ways we can educate others on the importance of ending this human rights abuse. But there are other ways to start educating others today.
One way to get the word out is to speak to youth about chastity, love, and the horrors of abortion. Generation Life has a program to speak to junior high and high school students and your local pregnancy care center likely has further opportunities. If you can’t find this near you contact Generation Life for more information on how to bring chastity education to schools near you.
Another way is to begin having conversations with friends about abortion. Listen to what compels them to their conclusions about abortion.
You can also comment on blogs, YouTube videos, and respond to Tweets. Google Blog Search allows you to see who in the world has written about abortion, pro-life, pro-choice, planned parenthood, NARAL, etc. And you can sort by most recent to comment on posts written in the last day or so.
Please share your education related resources and initiatives in the comments below. What educational resources had a significant impact on your beliefs about abortion? What educational resources do you recommend to women considering abortion?