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FIRST-PERSON: Get equipped to defend the unborn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–In 1988 I was a college senior, and I had just voted in my first presidential election. George Bush had won. On my university’s campus, Republicans were definitely in the minority, but on the day after the election, you especially knew who was who. I walked into my French class and was greeted by many glum faces. My French teacher, Madame Goldberg, breezed in a few minutes later. “It will be hard for everyone to concentrate today. We are all so disappointed,” she said.

“Not all of us,” I piped up. Maybe I shouldn’t have.

Madame Goldberg turned on me as though she would have liked to rip me in two. She stared at me for several long seconds, until the eyes of every student were on the two of us. With her eyes blazing, she said, “How could any woman vote for Bush?” And then she did rip me up, verbally, in front of the entire class. To tell the truth, I don’t recall much of her tirade. Just that I was the brunt of it, and a grown woman was beating me up with her accusations like a schoolyard bully uses his fists. I was speechless, literally in shock. I could not believe her reaction.

As an honor student, my professors were respected friends. I was well-known in the foreign languages department, spending my senior year completing an undergraduate thesis in French literature in addition to my regular coursework. Most of my professors knew that I was a Christian, and in my courses I took every opportunity to include the message of Christ in my papers and oral presentations whenever possible. I had been confronted on my faith in Christ, but never on any particular issue, such as abortion.

Hence, I was not prepared to offer a defense of why I, then a 21-year-old woman, had voted for George Bush, the pro-life candidate.

It’s important that we Christians have a way of answering the abortion advocates with sound reasoning. I recently attended an all-day seminar, “Making Abortion Unthinkable: the Art of Pro-Life Persuasion” by Scott Klusendorf, a bioethicist, pro-life advocate, author and lecturer. Klusendorf travels extensively throughout the United States and Canada training others to defend the unborn. He teaches Christians how to argue the case intelligently in the world arena without resorting to only Bible verses.

Christian parents must understand that our children will one day be going toe-to-toe with a godless generation. They will not be able to communicate their beliefs by quoting Scripture. While it is imperative that we write the Word of God on our children’s hearts by requiring that they read, study and memorize it, we must also prepare them with the why’s and how’s of our faith. We have to teach them how to articulate our Christian beliefs with practical intelligence. Our children will be confronted. Will they be ready? Are we? We Christians really do have all the answers. There is no reason for us to keep the truth quiet.

Klusendorf exposes the pro-choice argument for what it is — simply rerouting the debate and putting the pro-lifer on the defense, chasing after an argument that is not the issue. While Klusendorf defends human life from a variety of angles, he teaches beginning pro-life advocates to remember three things.

— The Real Question.

First, keep in mind the primary question in this debate for you and me and everybody else is, “What is the unborn?” The crux of the abortion dispute centers on this question. Klusendorf explains that defining whether the unborn is human is the only real issue in this controversy. He concedes that if the unborn are not human, then he and every other pro-lifer will walk away from this debate, forever. But the fact is, Klusendorf can prove, both scientifically and philosophically, that the unborn are indeed human from conception. He says, “Human life is a continuum beginning at conception and ending at natural death.”

— The Science of Reproduction.

Klusendorf refers to the principle of biogenesis, which states that each living thing reproduces after its own kind. In other words, dogs reproduce dogs, flies reproduce flies and so on. According to this law of biogenesis, human parents can only produce human offspring, and therefore, the unborn must be human.

— “SLED.”

Klusendorf advocates the use of the acronym “SLED” to offer an easy way to remember the differences between an unborn person and a newborn. “The unborn differs from the newborn in four ways, none of which are relevant to its status as a human being,” he explains. “Those four ways are size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency.” To explain:

1) Size. The unborn are, of course, smaller than newborns. But do tall people deserve more rights than short people? “Clearly size is not the issue,” Klusendorf says. The issue, he reiterates, is “What is the unborn?”

2) Level of development. While it is true that an unborn child is less developed than a newborn, so is a toddler less developed than a teenager. Should a toddler be killed, then, because he is not as developed as a 16-year-old is? Klusendorf contends that the absurdity of this argument comes from defining persons based on what they can do rather than who they are.

3) Environment. The unborn is located in a different place from the newborn — the unborn lives in its mother’s womb. But does humanness hinge on location, location, location? Am I less of a person in my house than I am at the mall? “Where one is has no bearing on who one is,” Klusendorf emphasizes.

4) Degree of dependency. “If viability is what makes one human, then all those dependent on kidney machines, heart pacemakers and insulin would have to be declared non-persons,” Klusendorf explains.

Abortion advocates, like Madame Goldberg, must offer facts and arguments in support of their position. This is rarely the case. She attacked me personally. If I had been equipped with the facts, I could have stood my ground and defended the unborn that day. I could have given my classmates some food for thought, as well. You can find more information and resources concerning pro-life advocacy at Scott Klusendorf’s website, “Stand to Reason” — www.str.org.
Rebecca Ingram Powell is the author of “Baby Boot Camp: Surviving the First Six Weeks of Motherhood.” Her website is www.rebeccapowell.com.

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  • Rebecca Ingram Powell