On Wednesday November 9, Lisa Stover—the National Program Coordinator for Students for Life—spoke to BC students about how to have conversations about abortion. These conversations can sometimes be difficult because of the seriousness of the subject matter and strong feelings involved.
Stover’s first piece of advice was to be sure to listen first. She distinguished simply waiting to talk from really listening to the other person’s point of view. Finding common ground with the other person can help the conversation move smoothly. Most importantly, Stover stressed the importance of treating the other person with love and respect.
While an argument of this sort may seem like an uphill battle, Stover asserted that philosophy and science support the pro-life position. Many people appeal to science, saying that the pre-born are just “a clump of cells,” and that “no one knows when life begins.” Scientifically speaking, however, children in the womb are distinct, living, whole, human beings. In addition—Stover asserted—most people recognize that the unborn baby is human.
The bigger question for Stover is “When do human rights begin?” In order to argue this point, she said, “If the preborn is growing, isn’t the preborn alive? If the preborn has human parents then isn’t the preborn human? If living humans have human rights, why don’t the preborn?” Be that as it may, however, Stover pointed out that most arguments from proponents of abortion fall under the “circumstance” category.
People may argue that young girls or poor women should not have to carry the baby to term because it is an undue burden. In these situations, Stover suggested to consider whether the same argument could be used to justify infanticide. The logic of this argument is that if circumstances are the determining factor in deciding whether one should obtain an abortion, the same circumstances which could occur prior to birth could also occur after birth. If a woman does not have the financial means to support her unborn child, she will probably not have the means to support a baby. Does this mean that she has the right to kill her baby after it is born? If the circumstances justify the first action—Stover pointed out—they also logically justify the second. However, no one would like to espouse this position. Thus, the argument fails to argue for abortion.
Stover summarized another common pro-choice argument as, “I would never get an abortion but I would never tell anyone what they can do,” but argued that that is akin to someone in the 1800s saying, “I would never have a slave, but I can’t tell anyone not to have a slave.” This type of argument is illogical and ignores the moral truth about the issue, reducing the choice to have an abortion or not to mere preference.
Finally, Stover shared her own unlikely unusual experience in getting involved with the pro-life movement. She mentioned how she reluctantly joined Boise State University’s pro-life club and gradually became more involved through her college experience, which culminated in becoming the Regional Director for the Northwest Region for Students for Life, prior to being promoted to her current position. Students for Life is the largest pro-life organization in the world.