Between the Dobbs decision, abortion on the ballots around the country, the problematic implications of Proposal 3 here in Michigan, and various Respect Life Month activities, our need to effectively witness to the sanctity of life at every stage has taken center stage in the Church lately. This work of witnessing, however, can be wildly intimidating in our present culture. Those who don’t share pro-life convictions can often act dismissively, at best— and violently, at worst— toward pro-lifers.
Yet, the work to protect life still needs to be done.
The good news is: we aren’t alone or unequipped. Earlier this month, Dr. Marlon De La Torre joined Teresa Tomeo on Ave Maria Radio for his monthly segment, “No Bystanders!” to discuss how those who witness to the pro-life cause can be equipped to share the pro-life message in an authentically evangelistic way.
This work isn’t easy, but it’s critical to our call to unleash the Gospel. Use these tips to effectively witness the pro-life message during discussions about matters of life.
1. Remain calm
When you are confronted about or discussing matters of life, especially more controversial ones, strive to be a source of peace. Remain confident in your position and try to avoid being affected by another’s words of disagreement or even contempt. Take deep breaths or say a short mental prayer while engaged in a discussion, whether it’s heated or not. While it may seem simple, these practical tactics will help you remain calm and credible to others, and talking about hard things will feel a little easier.
Many on the other side of life arguments have very sincere concerns and desires. Even if you can’t imagine holding a pro-choice or pro-abortion position, it’s likely you can imagine the experiences that sometimes result in abortion: a career hanging in the balance due to an unplanned pregnancy, lack of family support for a single mother, or the inability to make ends meet for oneself, much less a child. These are valid experiences that are all too common in our society.
Ask questions and listen, seeking to understand the person with whom you’re speaking. If you genuinely care about them and their reasons for supporting abortion, they may be more inclined to return the favor. As you develop a rapport, you can invite them to consider the ways their position can extend to respecting the dignity of all human beings. Even if you still disagree at the end of the day, you will have learned a little bit more about that person who bears God’s image and can pray more deeply for their areas of woundedness or confusion.
3. Speak deliberately
When discussing these matters with someone, avoid being flippant, relying on cliches or filling silence with unnecessary words. What you say matters, and if you’re trying to convince someone of the dignity of human life, you need to use words you believe in and can back up. This can include:
- Sharing your personal testimony regarding life
- Asking questions that challenge the pro-choice position
- Describing legal implications that are often misunderstood or misrepresented (in the case of Proposal 3, this is especially necessary)
- Responding charitably to any criticisms of the pro-life position
4. Don’t leave God out of it
The pro-life movement is made up of a diverse group of people from all walks of life, faith traditions and beliefs — one does not need religion to arrive at the conclusion that it is unjust to take life from another human. However, as Catholics, our pro-life position is deeply connected to our faith in God. We are pro-life, not simply because we’ve reasonably concluded killing people is bad; we are pro-life also because we recognize the image of God in every person.
Even if you speak with someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, you can still share the good news you’ve experienced through a relationship with Jesus! You don’t need to speak with heavy-handed language or try to condense Scripture and the Catechism into whatever time you have to converse with someone, but sharing the fact that your pro-life position is connected to your deepest conviction in God is an evangelization opportunity that can’t be missed.
5. Walk the walk
What you say about being pro-life should be just a fraction of your pro-life efforts. Ensure that, as you share and evangelize to the goodness of human life, you also actively support women, children, and families in need. It’s one thing to say and vote against abortion; it’s another to be an active part of creating and supporting solutions that are better than abortion.
Consider starting a Walking With Moms in Need chapter at your parish, or joining an existing one. Donate to or volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. Offer free babysitting to women in your life who are struggling with the demands of motherhood, work, and life in general. Support the efforts of organizations like Project Rachel, which helps mothers heal after abortion. Get creative, but be sure that you are practicing what you preach about being pro-life at every stage.
To dive deeper, check out these Pro-Life Ministry Resources for the Faithful.