Occasionally, no rational argument will convince someone of the pro-life position, and maybe this is because their resistance to it comes from the heart and not the head. Experience will aid in your ability to identify when it’s a “heart issue.” The person you’re talking to could be very upset or highly irrational, or constantly returning to one particular circumstance or excuse.
To suss out what particular “heart issue” may be at play, ask questions like, “Have you always held this viewpoint?” or “How did you come to be so passionate about this issue?” or “When did you first learn about abortion?” If you suspect they may be post-abortive, never confront them about it directly. Instead, ask: “Do you know anyone who’s experienced an abortion?”
If your conversation partner has been abused or raped, drop the abortion conversation. When they feel dehumanized, it’s insensitive, to say the least, to gloss over that dehumanization in order to persist in talking about another person’s dehumanization. Your job is to make sure they’re safe and have talked to someone about this trauma.
If someone is post-abortive, express (genuine) sympathy for their loss and an openness to hearing their story if they’re willing to share it. Offer them resources for post-abortive healing “just in case” they may want to talk to someone “down the road,” because many post-abortive men and women will claim they’re fine even when they’re not. Ask them what they think you think about them (or their mother/sister/friend, etc., if it’s a loved one who is post-abortive), and then emphasize that you’re not judging them. It seems very intuitive, but often a reminder that we all make mistakes, and that we’re more than our worst decisions, is quite beneficial.
If someone is experiencing a crisis pregnancy, they need to know they’re not alone and that they will be supported. Most women don’t want to abort; they just feel like they have to. They need to be empowered to choose life, reminded of their strength, and connected with the resources they need. Choice42 has a list of crisis pregnancy centres and maternity homes across Canada. It can also be helpful to humanize the fetus by referring to him or her as a “baby boy” or “baby girl” and to ask questions like “How far along are you?” and educate the mother on fetal development.
Lastly, if someone, for whatever reason, has given up hope, pro-lifers need to inspire them. The right road is not always the easy road. Actually, it’s usually not the easy road. This movement needs to share its vision for a better world in which everyone’s value is recognized and appreciated. Acknowledge that that’s not the reality most live in, but communicate that it’s a vision worth striving for with everything they can muster. Reaffirm their value and that they matter.
“Heart issues” can be daunting, but as it happens, they’re handled not too differently than “head issues”—the truth being shared in both cases is love. Issues of the heart just demand you put it into practice.