Pro-life advocates urged to stay on message

GREENVILLE—More than 100 pro-life advocates recently received guidance on how to more effectively advance the rights of the unborn.

Laying out his pro-life defense Jan. 26 at the Speak Up for Life Conference, Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute, said many pro-life advocates have drifted from their core message, in part because of tactics used by their opponents. Instead of defending their position, pro-lifers should press people supporting abortion to defend theirs.

“On the topic of abortion, some people want to change the topic,” Klusendorf said. Instead, pro-life proponents should point out that abortion kills and ask if that action is justifiable.

People “need to be making the case for what he or she believes,” Klusendorf said. “More than ever, we are all apologists now,” he added. He cited the legislation recently signed by New York Gov. Mario Cuomo that is being seriously considered in other states, which allows abortions during the third trimester of a pregnancy up to the due date.

“We have to step up and make the case for life,” he said, laying out a three-step formula divided into two premises that support a conclusion. The first premise, that it is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being, is followed by the second premise, that abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being. 

“The conclusion that pops out is, therefore, abortion is wrong,” Klusendorf said. “It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Abortion does that. Therefore, it’s wrong.  If you do not stick to that syllogism, then every abortion advocate on the planet is going to change the topic on you,” he said. 

According to its website, Life Training Institute shows people how to “persuasively defend their views in the marketplace of ideas by clearly presenting the pro-life position,” an effort that has been clouded in recent years by abortion advocates, and even some within the pro-life movement who want to broaden the movement to other social challenges.

“We, as pro-life advocates, need to stay on message,” Klusendorf said. “This conference is about you giving a gracious and persuasive response to the culture out there that doesn’t have a clue on this issue, and who would rather change the subject.”

The free, ecumenical conference was held at First Presbyterian Church and included representatives from several pro-life advocacy groups, including South Carolina Citizens for Life, Piedmont Women’s Center, Sidewalk Advocates for Life and 40 Days for Life.

Lisa Van Riper, president of South Carolina Citizens for Life, and an organizer of the conference, said the event took on a greater role in the wake of the New York legislature’s vote a couple of days earlier.

“We wanted to provide information so (pro-life advocates) can be better equipped to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, and so that South Carolina can continue in a different direction than New York,” Van Riper said.

Jim Canvin, co-chairman of the respect-for-life committee at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg, said Klusendorf’s message offered logical ways to respond to questions and assertions from those who would challenge the pro-life cause.

Miscellany/Terry Cregar: Jim Canin, right-to-life coordinator at St. Paul the Apostle in Seneca, talks with a Speak Up for Life Conference attendee during a session break.