Listening to progressives talk about abortion is like listening to Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” — it’s tedious, repetitive, and frustratingly incorrect. However, abortion is an issue the importance of which will not diminish over time, and it's imperative that conservatives learn how to debate progressives on the topic in a way that's effective and persuasive.
The following are three of the most common situations one might come across when speaking with progressives about the morality of abortion, and how to overcome them.
Many progressives will try to pull you away from the central argument regarding the morality of abortion. They will bring up topics only tangentially related to abortion, and force you to argue on grounds of their own choosing. One of the most popular non sequiters tossed out by abortion-defenders during debate is the “adoption argument.”
The adoption argument is employed when an abortion defender feels cornered. They will attempt to turn the tables, moving from a defensive position to an offensive one by asking questions like: “If abortion is illegal, what are we supposed to do with all the children born to unfit and unready parents?” or “What about women who can't afford a child?” Sometimes, abortion defenders will tailor the questions directly to you in order to knock you off balance: “How many children are you willing to adopt?” Other times, abortion defenders will simply behave dismissively, issuing phrases like: “Conservatives aren't pro-life, they're just pro-birth,” as if that’s the real argument.
This is a red herring, a tactic born of fear. There are other permutations of this maneuver, but they're all meant to accomplish the same thing — steer the conversation away from the morality of abortion.
When an abortion defender lobs a red herring, you should simply say: “That's an interesting issue, but it's not directly relevant to the topic at hand.” You can even offer to discuss the red herring at a later time, but then turn the topic back to abortion.
Never allow your opponent to lead the conversation, or you will find yourself being dragged swiftly away from the debate regarding the morality of abortion.
Many progressives are truly ignorant of the procedures of abortion. When debating, ask about specifics: What are the different types of abortion? What tools are used? What does a child look like at (insert gestational age)? When do children in utero develop a nervous system, a brain, eyes, fingers and toes? Make sure you yourself have the answers.
You may be shocked to find that many staunch abortion defenders have little to zero knowledge of what goes into an abortion, what developing infants look like at various gestational stages, and how brutal the procedure truly is.
There are many resources you can use to educate progressives who know so little about the behavior they ardently defend, but one of the best is a series of YouTube videos in which Dr. Anthony Levatino, an OB-GYN and former abortion practitioner, describes the most common abortion procedures.
What makes these videos so effective is that Dr. Levatino’s words are set to animations depicting what he's describing. The videos are incredibly chilling, and that's the point. If you're debating an abortion defender, make sure they know exactly what they're fighting for.
The following is a video in which Dr. Levatino details second trimester abortions:
There are plenty of other places where you can find descriptions and visualizations of infant development, as well as the procedures and end results of abortion. The Center for Bioethical Reform is a fantastic resource.
Argue the Fringe
One of the most common stratagems used by abortion defenders is running the debate to the fringe. While discussing the morality of terminating an infant in the womb, a progressive might bring up “rape and incest.” The argument is so common, it's even woven into many pro-life laws. “What if the infant was conceived out of rape or incest?”
This is another diversionary move, but it's a bit more clever. While red herrings like the adoption argument pull the debate far from center, the “rape and incest” question keeps it close to home. Better yet for abortion defenders, asking about rape and incest places pro-lifers in a defensive posture.
Many pro-lifers are afraid to maintain consistency on abortion when it comes to violent or unnatural conception because it makes them appear cruel. As a result of this fear, Republican politicians will often talk a tough game on abortion, then concede to “obvious” exceptions for rape and incest. Such a position is intellectually dishonest, and when debating abortion defenders, you must be courageous enough to tell the truth.
An infant conceived in rape or incest is no different than any other infant. They are a human being.
The first rule of fringe debate is to maintain intellectual honesty, even if it makes you uncomfortable. The second rule is to acknowledge the real life situations that have been brought up.
Sexual violence is a unique evil, and the victims of it need to be dealt with in a compassionate manner. Women in the harrowing position of carrying a child conceived in rape must be offered extraordinary love and support. That said, it must also be understood that further violence isn't the answer; that the termination of an innocent child will simply compound the tragedy a victim has already experienced.
The third rule of fringe debate is to recognize that you have been taken to the edge, and walk it back. According to the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 98.5% of abortions are elective. This means that when someone brings up “rape and incest,” they're attempting to set up a trap and avoid the real issue, which is the morality of abortion.
When someone brings you to the fringe, maintain intellectual honesty, acknowledge reality, then bring the argument back to center by asking your opponent if they support abortion in the approximately 98.5% of cases when it's not about rape or incest.
These three situations represent much of the rhetoric and tactics you will hear when debating an abortion defender. As long as you remain calm, focused, and determined, you have the power and information to frame the debate in the manner in which it should be framed.