Alan Shlemon explains a classification system for pro-abortion arguments

Unborn baby scheming about pro-life arguments
Unborn baby scheming about pro-life arguments

Here’s the main post, which contains: (H/T Life Training Institute)

  • a chart showing how pro-abortion arguments can be classified using disjunctions
  • a 5-minute video of Alan explaining the chart
  • links to ALL of the responses to each type of pro-abortion argument

Alan is a veteran of university campus debates on abortion, so he’s speaking from experience. The guy who introduces him is Scott Klusendorf. Scott is the best pro-life debater in the business. Bar none. Scott is the William Lane Craig of the abortion issue.

Ok. Let’s get started.

Here’s the chart. Open that up and take a look at it.

Then watch this video and refer to the chart:

Then find a pro-abortion person, classify their argument, and use these links to find the appropriate response:

You may already be familiar with these three kinds of responses, but if not, learning them is quite feasible (Trot Out the Toddler, the scientific case that the unborn is human, the S.L.E.D. test, Taking the Roof Off, and responding to the violinist and bodily rights arguments have been explained by Stand to Reason (through Making Abortion Unthinkable) and many others). It’s just a matter of thinking through the flowchart when you’re in a conversation with an abortion-choice advocate, recognizing the position they’re taking, and then responding accordingly. Knowing this, you can respond to every defense they offer for abortion.

Anyone can do this – and you get better at it the more you practice. It’s fun to be a little more confrontational about controversial things – being a good person means taking bold stands on moral issues, and backing up your talk with good arguments and evidence. The more time you put into it, the better you get at it.

9 thoughts on “Alan Shlemon explains a classification system for pro-abortion arguments”

  1. Yeah! One of the things I like best about your blog is that it contains material one can use. It’s useful!


    1. Thank you Mary.

      Although this material can be used by any pro-lifer, my primary audience is a Christian audience. I think it’s fun to give Christians readers things they can really try out. It’s fun to have a relationship with God by taking care of his reputation. Talking about him and defending his interests is a way of reciprocating what he has done for us. To show him that we like him, and to show him that we are re-prioritizing our lives to take his character into account. That we accept his leadership and that we honor his personality in our decision-making.


  2. Wow, this is great! I think it will be a wonderful tool in helping my daughter organize her thoughts when defending life. She goes to a Christian school, but, believe it or not, she is frequently having to defend life with her classmates. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Great resource, thanks Wintery.
    I have to agree with Mary, one of the things that makes this blog stand out is that you are not simply blogging some nice little thoughts on different topics like practically every other blog out there. Instead, you are actually discovering, sharing and even creating resources for Christians, in particular, to integrate their Christian faith and knowledge with the public square.
    Your blog contains almost countless instruments that are almost ready to use as soon as you finish reading them and I commend you for it, keep going with it because you really are doing a great job!

    I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on the ‘cancer’ response. When us pro-lifers try to show that the fetus is an independent human being we often point out that the fetus has its own set of DNA different from the mother’s. However, the reponse often comes, ‘What about cancer? Cancer also has its own DNA different from the woman yet we still consider that to be a part of the woman’s body.’ Do you know of any successful responses to this?


    1. Hi, Michael. I know you didn’t ask me but I’ll take a stab at this. :)

      I would say that cancer is quite different from a developing child in the womb. First of all, what is each one doing in the woman? The child is there to develop to just the right point and then be born, and outside the woman. In fact, newborn babies are very helpless compared to most other newborn animals because of our large brains. For the baby to be able to pass through the woman’s pelvis, the baby has to be born before he can do much to take care of himself. There is an “expiration date” on a developing fetus. It is also in the baby’s best interest for the mother to survive so the mother can nurture and breastfeed and raise the child to adulthood.

      Cancer, on the other hand, has no such expiration date or agenda. It simply wants to grow and grow until its host dies. Since it’s a mutation of normal cells, it doesn’t even have an interest in preserving the host so the cancer cells themselves can survive. If it succeeds in taking over the host’s body, it is in effect killing itself.

      I’m no expert on cancer so I’ll ask this: do cancer cells truly have distinct DNA or are they simply normal cells gone wrong? Because when you refer to the distinct DNA of a growing baby, that DNA is traceable to the parents but clearly that of a separate human being. Does the DNA of cancer also appear to be that of an entirely different person, as if the cancer patient is the mother of the cancer? That seems absurd to me, but I’ll defer to someone who knows more about cancer and DNA.

      Finally, if a fetus is not a separate being from its mother, then every mother who has carried a boy once possessed a penis and testes. Also, in that case every woman who has carried a baby of either sex has possessed two brains, four hands, four feet, etc., and even more than that in the case of a multiple pregnancy! I’ve been pregnant and I can tell you that often during my pregnancy I felt like I had NO brains, let alone two! :D


    2. Michael,

      Erica’s done a great job with the cancer argument. It is though a good example of why we need to be careful about how we use terms.

      Abortion advocates who use this argument confuse parts of a human being with the whole human being. Cancer is simply a mutated part of a human whereas the unborn is a new human being.

      But this is where we as pro-lifers have to be careful. We can’t say the unborn is a new living entity just because it has different DNA from its parents. The DNA are different but it is only part of the story.

      As we all know, sexual reproduction requires the fusion of the male and female gametes. Anything that reproduces sexually then will begin life at fertilization: some plants, animals and of course humans. This new organism is a new organism because it is self-mobilizing. Nothing other than food is provided it for it to grow and develop. Every change comes from within the organism, not without.

      Cancer on the other hand will always be part of the host body. It can never develop into anything else – it will always be a disease.

      Moreover, the new DNA in a zygote is part of a natural process of procreation whereas cancer DNA differences are caused by error in the copying. It is an unnatural process.

      You can read more if you look up Maureen Condic and some of her critics:

      Here’s a quick way to summarize:
      Different DNA doesn’t necessarily make new human beings but new human beings always have new DNA.

      And just because cancer has different DNA (actually mutated DNA), that doesn’t mean the unborn are not unique, new human individuals.


  4. I like it. The arguments can be much more nuanced (ie they can combine two or three arguments) but these three points are the main arguments we hear in Canada too.

    BTW, if you do look up our new website, the training section there (under pro-life classroom) has much more in-depth videos on how to defend the pro-life position.


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