Responding to pro-choice rhetoric: “don’t like abortion? don’t have one!”

Top pro-life debater Scott Klusendorf reports on his recent lecture at Colgate University.


During the extended question and answer, a polite female student replied (paraphrase), “I’m against abortion and will never have one. If one of my friends gets pregnant and wants an abortion, I will do everything I can to talk her out of it. But I don’t want the government involved in taking away a woman’s choice. I guess that’s why I’m against abortion and am pro-choice.”

The student was hardly alone. She was echoing the sentiments of millions of Americans who personally dislike abortion but do not identify as pro-life. Their beliefs are perfectly summed up in this popular bumper sticker: “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.”

Notice the bumper sticker completely transforms the nature of the abortion debate with a single word—“like.”

When pro-life advocates claim that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being, they aren’t saying they dislike abortion. They are saying it’s objectively wrong, regardless of how one feels about it. Notice what’s going on here. The pro-life advocate makes a moral claim that he believes is objectively true—namely, that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. The abortion-choice advocate responds by changing that objective truth claim into a subjective one about likes and dislikes, as if the pro-lifer were talking about a mere preference. But this misses the point entirely. As Francis J. Beckwith points out, pro-life advocates don’t oppose abortion because they find it distasteful; they oppose it because it violates rational moral principles.

Imagine if I said, “Don’t like slavery? Then don’t own a slave.” Or, “Don’t like spousal abuse? Then don’t beat your wife!” If I said such things, you would immediately realize I don’t grasp why slavery and spousal abuse are wrong. They are not wrong because I personally dislike them. They are wrong because slaves and spouses are intrinsically valuable human beings who have a natural right not to be treated as property. Whether I personally like slavery or spousal abuse is completely beside the point. If I liked spousal abuse, you would rightly say I was sick! You wouldn’t resign yourself to, “I guess abuse is right for you but not for me.”

And yet this is precisely what the pro-choicer does. He reduces abortion to a mere preference and then declares, “Hands off! Keep the government out of the abortion business!”

Some choices are wrong. We can do better than abortion.

Learn about the pro-life case:

And some posts motivating Christians and conservatives to take abortion seriously:

12 thoughts on “Responding to pro-choice rhetoric: “don’t like abortion? don’t have one!””

  1. Anti Abortion people come from a place where they frame the argument in religious terms but that is not a winning method.

    Here are a couple of l reasons for that

    #1 What is perceived to be morality is not universal. It varies from society to society, sect to sect. Its fashinable to belive in universal morality but if the target of your argument does not or does not believe in your universalism, it will fail.

    #2 many anti abortion people don’t have a consistent moral code and can’t justly preach since they engage in non defensive war, believe in executions (strapping someone to a gurney and poisoning someonev seemingly however deserving is killing a helpless person and given the risk of being wrong might well be murder) and by no means live a godly life. Beam/Splinter

    lastly, I agree the “don’t have one” is a weak a counter argument.

    Thats only a glib one. The main argument is

    #1 A fetus cannot survive on its own without normal care (food/shelter/love) and is therefore not a person till it can.

    Thats unanswerable by anyone


    1. An elderly man with dementia, a woman in a coma, a quadripelegic boy, a girl with Down’s syndrome – these cannot survive without special care either. I suppose by your logic, they aren’t persons either and can be killed at will.

      There are only 4 differences between an unborn child and other human beings:
      -Stage of development
      -Degree of dependency
      None of these is a valid basis for determining worth or personhood. You cannot use any of these criteria to distinguish those who have a right to life from those who don’t without huge ethical ramifications because you would be leaving out many besides the unborn.

      How’s that for an answer?

      Note: I did not use religion at all in my argument.


    2. If viability (which is a continuum, not a discrete state) determines personhood, then the stronger humans are more persons than weak humans. Then the average man is more of a person than the average woman. And adults are more persons than children are. And old people become lesser persons as they get older and weaker. And anyone in hospital is less of person. it’s illogical and discriminatory in the worst way.


      1. Not only that, but viability of an unborn child depends greatly on where the child exits the womb. If the birth were to happen outside of a hospital, for example, most premature babies would not survive. In a small, rural hospital, more would survive. Only in the more advanced hospitals is it possible for the earliest preemies to survive. Personhood and the right to life cannot depend on one’s location or the medical technology available in one’s immediate vicinity. Thus, viability cannot be a measure of personhood or worth.


        1. Add on to that, as medical technology advances we will probably reach a point where a fertilized egg is “viable” outside the womb(IE can be grown into a full term baby outside a mother’s womb)


  2. Matt, by your standard, anyone who cannot survive on his own without normal care (food/shelter/love) is not a person and can be done away with. Is that what you really believe?


  3. From what I see in Matt’s response, that covers every person on earth. Not a single person alive can survive without food/shelter/love, therefore we are not people.


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