In the weeks following the Supreme Court leak, the conversation surrounding the topic of abortion has reached a fever pitch, with protests even occurring at the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices. Social media comment sections and group chats have become the new areas of public discourse, and often simply result in both sides virtually shouting arguments back and forth at each other. With fallacies dominating the conversation, often neither side listens and understands what the other is saying. I try to avoid engaging in these conversations online and instead prioritize talking to people in person. In these real-life interactions, there is a chance for human connection, and an opportunity to actually listen. And a few months ago, I had the opportunity to have one of those in-person discussions.

There was an event on my college campus recently that sought to engage in conversations with students, and protest against abortion. Although I couldn’t stay for the whole event, I decided to swing by the event and help out with what was going on. During the time that I was there, I was able to hand out some pro-life pamphlets to the many students that walked by. Already there was a decent number of counter-protestors holding up signs glorifying abortion and chanting pro-choice cliches that I have already addressed in former articles. In the midst of all this, one student passing by engaged me in a conversation about my views on abortion. After we both moved out of the way of pedestrian traffic, I found out that his support for abortion stemmed from sympathy for the economic situations of mothers. He believed that if a family could not support another child, or if a single mother could not provide a good life for a child, then the mother ought to have the right to abort her child.

Now to be completely honest, this was not an aspect of the abortion debate that I was prepared for. But this allowed me to learn more about his beliefs and his position. I quickly realized that he did not consider abortion equal to murder, or that a child in the womb was fully human just like any other person. I first engaged him on this point and walked through the SLED argument. After some discussion, he acknowledged that this made sense, but still held to the position that children do not deserve to be brought up in poor socioeconomic situations. His point was that parents ought to have the right to have an abortion in the circumstance where the child will be in dire conditions.

There are several facets of his argument that were flawed. First, he made the assumption that a parent can predict the living circumstances that their children will have throughout their life. The reality however is that a parent only knows so much, and has no clue what God has in store for their child’s life. A parent may seek to protect the child from all harm, but no parent can completely guarantee their child a life free from danger. Furthermore, there are multitudes of stories of successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and even famous individuals in history who all came from humble circumstances and rose to greatness. There are so many individuals that hail from circumstances of poverty who, by this argument, should have been aborted due to their economic plight, yet they went on to be successful and make an impact in the world. Secondly, this argument fails as it assumes that any economic situation justifies the murder of an innocent child. Human life is sacred, and God has imprinted his image on every human being. Every child has intrinsic value that does not depend on external qualities or circumstances. A child born in an underdeveloped nation has the same human value as a child born to rich parents. The economic situations do not change the innate value of the child and do not justify an abortive decision. Finally, I argued that if it is permissible to abort a child in the womb simply due to socioeconomic status or the possibility of not having basic needs, then it should be equally permissible for parents in third-world countries, or even in very poor areas in developed nations, to decide to kill their children when they are struggling to provide basic needs. Yet this argument is clearly absurd, and the student agreed with me on this point. The economic situation does not give justification for abortion.

In this discussion, I tried to listen to the other student’s points and also tried to empathize with his concerns. He was heavily compassionate for the harsh conditions that many parents and kids around the world face, and he was also empathetic towards how many kids from poorer conditions end up in the foster care system. Through my arguments, I also tried to demonstrate how I shared his sympathies, and how the pro-life movement also aims to affect change in these areas. When our conversation shifted to the question of birth control and family planning, I tried to communicate that family planning in itself is not wrong, but that each family should have that decision for themselves based on their convictions, moral stances, and desires. Yet I also made it clear that abortion, or abortifacients, are never the solution as they kill a human being. In the end, the student thanked me for the conversation and promised to think about all we had discussed. I may not have changed his mind completely, but I was able to engage him in a discussion, and give him something to think about.