Last month I continued a chapter-by-chapter summary review of Scott Klusendorf’s book “The Case For Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture” (paperback, Kindle, GoodReads, Video Trailer, Interview, Life Training Institute). Today I will continue, once again, the summary with Part 3 of the book.
Part 3- Pro-Life Christians Answer Objections Persuasively
Chapter 9- From Debate to Dialogue: Asking The Right Questions
After preparing the reader with the information and the arguments to defend the pro-life position in the first two parts of the book, Klusendorf moves to demonstrating how to communicate and engage with critics using the information. He takes the approach encouraged by Greg Koukl in his book Tactics- ask questions that clarify the issues and encourage thoughtful reflection on the implications of the claims. The questions are forms of “What do you mean by that?” “How did you come to that conclusion?” and “Have you considered…?” Klusendorf explains the purpose behind each of the questions then gives several common claims by pro-choice/abortion advocates and what good probing questions would be.
Chapter 10- The Coat Hanger Objection: “Women Will Die From Illegal Abortions”
Klusendorf now goes into specific objections that require a bit more discussion. This objection basically argues that if abortion is made illegal then women will be forced to seek illegal abortions, which have a high mortality rate for the women. Klusendorf explains the weaknesses of this argument including the fact that it assumes that the unborn are not human/have no value and that women have no choice in the matter. He also demonstrates that “back alley” abortions do not have as high a morality rate as they claim, so they overstate the risk to the mother. Regardless of actual risk, though, because there is risk in committing a murder to the murderer does not justify the state making murder legal. All human deaths are tragedies, and the law can prevent most, but not all. Still prevention of most deaths is better than prevention of few or none.
Chapter 11- The Tolerance Objection: “You Shouldn’t Force Your View On Others”
Pro-choice/abortion activists often claim that pro-lifers should not force their views on other people. However, this is a claim that goes both directions. If someone claims that another view should not be forced on others, then by logical implication they are saying that they wish to force their own claims on the others. This is a self-defeating claim. One side may not claim the moral high ground by calling the other intolerant, because the very claim makes them intolerant as well.
Chapter 12- The Single Issue Objection: “Pro-Lifers Should Broaden Their Focus”
Sometimes pro-choice/abortion advocates will complain that pro-life supporters are too focused on the issue of abortion and not focused enough on other issues or even the underlying causes for abortions. Klusendorf points to the fact that the focus on one issue does necessitate focus on all (or even many) issues. He evidences this by saying that it would be illogical for someone to demand that those searching for cures for cancer also spend their resources fighting global hunger, diabetes, and global warming. The fact that many issues exists does not negate the validity of focusing effort to resolve one of them.
It is also often mentioned that pro-lifers should not focus so much on making abortion illegal but rather the focus should be on the underlying causes. Klusendorf explains that this is more of a strategy to blur focus on the issue. While pro-lifers do need to address underlying issues, the fight against abortion should not be abandoned. If it were, it would be like making rape, robbery, and murder legal and trying to prevent them by addressing the underlying causes for people committing them. The causes and the effects both need to be addressed, not only one of them.
Chapter 13- The Hard Cases Objection: “Rape Justifies Abortion”
In the face of many arguments and failed attempts to justify abortion-on-demand, many times an avid supporter of abortion/choice will attempt to argue from the exception of rape. While it is important to recognize that rape is a difficult issue because of the undeniable emotional trauma that the mother will experience, the issue is whether it is right to kill a human being who reminds us of a traumatic experience. The answer is obviously “no.” It is not easy for pro-lifers to accept this because many do have friends and family can imagine close friends and family in this position (and some actually are), but doing the right thing is not always the easy thing, and that is why people have friends and family: to comfort them in the midst of the difficult implications of doing the right thing.
Chapter 14- The “I Don’t Like You” Objection: “Men Can’t Get Pregnant” and Other Personal Attacks
Sometimes supporters of abortion/choice do not attempt to use arguments at all; rather they attack the character of the pro-life supporter. The only value these attacks possess is rhetorical; they have no place in reasonable discourse. It does not matter is the person presenting an argument is the worst person in the world, it is not the character of the presenter that determines the logical soundness of an argument, but it is the content of the argument, which character attacks do not address.
Chapter 15- The Bodily Autonomy Objection: “It’s My Body; I’ll Decide”
Some abortion/choice advocates do “bite the bullet” and accept the humanity of the unborn along with its right to life. However, they hold that a woman’s right to do with her body what she pleases trumps the unborn human’s right to life. Klusendorf examines several real-life and hypothetical scenarios in this context. He explains that even those who use this argument would not allow women to take this to logical limit because of the moral “wrongness” of such extreme actions. By doing this, Klusendorf demonstrates that the abortion/choice advocate who uses this argument cannot maintain logical consistency without compromising morals at some point. He concludes that even though this may seem to be a powerful challenge to the pro-life view, it still crumbles under its own weight.
Next Month I will examine Part 4 which will cover several ways to equip Christians to address the pro-life/pro-choice debate in a persuasive way. I will also conclude the review with my final thoughts and recommendation.