One Question Ruins Planned Parenthood’s New Tactic


According Katie Baker at Jezebel, Planned Parenthood is moving away from the terms “choice” “pro-choice” and “pro-life” in their official communications.  She describes how Planned Parenthood officials revealed their new strategy at a recent press conference:

Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens spoke about the problematic use of “choice” at a press briefing Wednesday, explaining how women once had way fewer choices than they do today. Now, she said, maybe “‘choice’ as word sounds frivolous.”

The move comes amid research which shows that a majority of Americans say that the morality of abortion depends on the situation of the woman choosing it. But even with this moral ambivalence, most Americans still think abortion should be legal.

Planned Parenthood describes a 2012 survey which found that 35% of people who call themselves pro-life think Roe v Wade should NOT be overturned. I’ve met these people. They say, “I’m pro-life. I would never have an abortion. I think abortion is awful. But I don’t want to take away that choice for others.”

Planned Parenthood hopes that by framing abortion as a “difficult decision” that is “complex and personal” they can gain support from people who morally oppose abortion (and call themselves “pro-life”) but think still it should be legal. Frankly, I’m not sure what can fill the vacuum created by removing the word “choice” from the vocabulary of those who defend legal abortion.

Instead of “pro-life” (which even Baker admits is a better term than “pro-choice”) the other side usually calls me “anti-choice.”  But in the absence of the term “choice,” what will they call me? I doubt they will use “anti-abortion” because the logical opposite of that is “pro-abortion” and apparently nobody wants to be that. Personally, as much as I hate the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” because of their vague ambiguity, I think they are here to stay.

But this change (or at least attempted change) in rhetoric invites an awesome opportunity for pro-life dialogue. When people like Planned Parenthood representatives say abortion is a “difficult decision” just ask them, “Why?” Or more specifically “Why is abortion a difficult decision?”  “What is complex about abortion?”

After all, we don’t say the decision to fill a cavity is “difficult” or that the decision to have an inflamed appendix removed is “complex.”

The person you’re talking to might say that abortion is different than those other surgeries and that is what makes it difficult. Once again, ask a question. “How is it different?” When the person responds that abortion “takes a life” (usually of the potential kind) just keep asking, “What exactly is this life being taken?  Is it a human life? What’s complex about wanting to protect human life?”

If you would like to see how this “question approach” works in real conversations, check out a show I recently did on Catholic Answers Live where I spent the whole hour responding to pro-choice callers. You’ll be surprised how simple questions can start to move someone’s mind towards the truth.