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Communicating the Pro-Life Message
Maria Gallagher | 25 July 2019
“Big Tech” bias has been in the news lately, as evidence mounts that technology giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google routinely stifle certain points of view for public consumption. Stephanie Gray is someone accustomed to speaking truth to powerful tech companies. The accomplished speaker headlined a viral video with a pro-life presentation at Google headquarters. The talk proved to be so popular that people around the world have been eager to learn Gray’s secret to engaging audiences on the life issues.
Gray’s mastery of civil dialogue is contained within her book Love Unleashes Life, which is also the name of her ministry. The book’s subtitle makes it abundantly clear where Gray stands on the demarcation line of the cultural divide: “Abortion and the Art of Communicating Truth.”
Gray wisely focuses on the power of questions to help elucidate the truth about abortion, the taking of an innocent human life. Gray’s style of communication involves asking an individual or an audience a series of questions in order to try to understand their point of view, so she can target her message accordingly.
As Gray writes, “In order to understand, we need to listen deeply to what the other person says. If people see that we have a strong mind and a soft heart, they’ll be more likely to dialogue with us and consider what we have to say.”
Gray also believes in the power of stories to make the pro-life case. She writes that “questions and stories form the core of communicating the pro-life message, for it is these which lead to fruitful encounters where people are both drawn to the truth and where people experience the respect owed their person.”
Gray notes that the kinds of questions and stories employed will vary according to the experiences and temperament of the individual with whom you are communicating. The author and noted speaker points out that some of those who have not yet embraced the pro-life viewpoint just don’t know the facts. Others are in a state of denial, which may be the rest of erecting a wall based on a personal experience. As a result, it is important for the pro-life advocate to engage both the head and the heart in order to advance the pro-life message.
A case in point is an example Gray gives about a person who believes that if a woman has no support that would justify abortion. In the hypothetical situation, Gray first tries to establish common ground, agreeing that to be pregnant without support would be difficult. She then invokes a story, imagining if a woman had sufficient support until a child reached the age of five. She then asks the incisive question: “May she kill her 5-year-old because she has no support in caring for him? If the answer is no, why would it be acceptable to kill a pre-born child because of a perceived lack of support? It might also be beneficial to point out the thousands of pregnancy care centers around the country that provide comprehensive support, both before and after the birth of a child.
Gray also deftly frames the debate about abortion around the issue of human rights. She recommends asking an individual if he or she believes in human rights. Given the expected affirmative answer, the pro-life speaker can then hold up a fetal model and ask whether human rights would apply. The typical response from a pro-abortion advocate would be that a “fetus” is not human. The pro-lifer can then ask if the parents are human and, if so, wouldn’t it naturally follow that their progeny must be human, too. If the respondent then counters that, even if the “fetus” is human, it is not alive, the pro-life advocate can then ask whether the entity is growing and, therefore, wouldn’t the “fetus” be alive? In this way, the pro-lifer can establish the fact that the preborn child is alive, growing, and therefore deserving of human rights.
In my own pro-life work, I have found the question-and-answer method to be quite useful, especially when a caller has mistakenly called the pro-life office seeking an abortion. Asking how far along the pregnancy is, and whether the woman has had an ultrasound, can help open lines of communication. Asking why a woman is seeking an abortion can also help determine what’s going on in her mind and how the pro-lifer can best respond to her concerns.
Establishing a dialogue with those who do not share a pro-life viewpoint is absolutely essential if we are to rebuild a culture of life in our communities and in our country.
Love Unleashes Life is one of the best pro-life apologetics books I have ever read. The work offers a myriad of winsome ways to engage and hold the interest of people about the life issues. For it is in loving everyone, born and unborn, that we can achieve great victories for life.
Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, firstname.lastname@example.org