CON: How Edgy Catchphrases Hurt the Pro-Life Movement


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Editor’s Note: the opposing argument can be read here

There is no issue in modern day politics more paradoxically polarizing than abortion, as one side claims to fight for human rights, while the other fights for human life. However, the pro-life movement bears the truth about this issue and so must responsibly state its case if it hopes to grow to the point where abortion is unthinkable. Unfortunately, in an age where social media dominates politics, the pro-life movement has become too much about edgy catchphrases and not enough about persuasive conversations.

One common phrase used by pro-life activists on social media is “abortion is murder.” Such a phrase may boost enthusiasm within pro-life circles, but does calling abortion murder in the public sphere actually benefit the pro-life movement? Some say yes. Life begins at conception; therefore abortion is murder, and we should call a spade a spade. Other activists even go far enough to compare abortion to the Holocaust. However, while abortion does indeed end millions of innocent lives, when talking to moderates and leftists about the issue, comparisons to murder and the Holocaust will only turn them away.

Pro-life icon Ben Shapiro is correct when he says “facts don’t care about your feelings,” but this doesn’t justify a total disregard of feelings when debating our opposition. Emotional appeal is essential to a convincing argument. Using the word murder during a conversation with an abortion advocate can cause such disgust that it practically destroys any chance of persuasion.

This isn’t to say the pro-life movement should disregard the clear fact that abortion is an attack on innocent human life. The point is that instead of bombarding pro-choicers with edgy catchphrases, we should lead them on a logical and emotional journey towards respecting human life by using the powerful tools of science and storytelling.

Supporters of abortion tend to prop themselves up as “pro-science,” so when it comes to abortion, try to get them to confirm their supposedly science-based belief system. Why outright call abortion murder in conversations with pro-choicers when you can note that advances in science prove that life begins at conception, with the baby’s heart beating at 21 days and ability to feel pain at 20 weeks? This way, we give abortion advocates some breathing room to make logical conclusions about abortion based on the facts. Unfortunately, though, data is rarely enough to get someone to change their views.

As American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks details in his inspirational new book “Love Your Enemies,” people tend to use data to confirm their biases, while disregarding it when it doesn’t fit their worldview. Convincing arguments need real-world stories, which, ironically enough, is proven by data. Brooks cites scientific studies showing that when people hear personal stories, their brains begin to match wavelengths, while also boosting oxytocin levels (also known as the “love hormone,”) creating a personal connection like no other. This should come as no surprise to faith-centered individuals, as religious books like the Bible primarily use stories to promote their core moral teachings. So while data is needed to prove the veracity of a claim, stories are an essential tool in promoting the overall argument.

Thankfully, there is far from a lack of compelling stories in the pro-life movement. When New York passed a radical abortion law earlier this year, Fox News did a segment with three abortion survivors who told their miraculous stories. Melissa Ohden founded the Abortion Survivors Network after learning she was born as a result of a botched abortion that her young mother was told went according to plan, leaving her unaware of the fact that Melissa survived and was later adopted. Josiah Presley was adopted from South Korea after surviving his mother’s curettage abortion, which is the likely reason for why he was born without one arm. Claire Culwell survived after her 13-year-old mother got an abortion without knowing she was pregnant with twins, leaving her to be unexpectedly born later in the pregnancy while her twin was left to die. And of course, there is the story of former clinic director for Planned Parenthood turned pro-life activist Abby Johnson, which has recently come to light through the release of “Unplanned” in theaters across the nation. Stories like these are powerful and must be told by pro-life activists to fight back against abortion advocates effectively.

The pro-life movement doesn’t need to be edgy to grab the world’s attention. We bear the truth about this issue that will no doubt define our generation. So enough with the murder and Holocaust references—let’s bring civility to this crucial debate and use the power of science and stories to make abortion unthinkable worldwide.  

Patrick is the Vice President of Lone Conservative and a sophomore journalism major at the University of Maryland. He has work in the Washington Examiner, Media Research Center, Townhall, FEE, and more. Outside of politics, he is a devout Catholic and passionate Baltimore sports fan.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Patrick Hauf

Patrick is the Vice President of Lone Conservative and a sophomore journalism major at the University of Maryland. He has work in the Washington Examiner, Media Research Center, Townhall, FEE, and more. Outside of politics, he is a devout Catholic and passionate Baltimore sports fan.

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