Confusing apologetics with compassionate care will cause us to ignore or undervalue the real issues that abortion-minded women and men face. Most women and men choose abortion because they are unable to see how they will support themselves and their baby, not because they think its a clump of cells.

“Because that would be killing my baby.” 

Those are the words of a young woman who called Care Net’s Pregnancy Decision Line two weeks ago. After revealing that she thought she would feel sad about an abortion, our pregnancy decision coach had asked her she thought that sadness would come from. The above was her answer”¦ she knew that having an abortion would be killing her own baby.  

This is not uncommon. Many of the women and men Care Net serves in our 1,100+ affiliated pregnancy centers and through our Pregnancy Decision Line know full well that abortion is the intentional ending of a human life. They are not confused about this simple truth. 

The reason this is so important is that there are too many voices in the pro-life movement who are convinced that if we can just make a better argument about the humanity of the unborn, we will “win” the battle. If we can just convince people that human life begins at conception, there will be far fewer abortions. 

The problem with this line of thinking is twofold. 

First, it confuses apologetics with compassionate care. Second, most people, like the young woman who called our Pregnancy Decision Line, already know this, and therefore, there are other more important factors we must address if we hope to save their unborn child’s life. 

Before I sound as though I am against apologetics – using reason and logic to make a defense or argument – I should clarify that I am an ardent proponent of good apologetics. Indeed, I believe they are a critical tool”¦ but only for a specific purpose. Namely, a good pro-life apologetic is necessary to win arguments in the court of public opinion. They are great for revealing the illogical and inconsistent views of many pro-choice advocates and for promoting the logic and coherence of the pro-life position. In fact, Care Net uses apologetics in many of the posts on this very blog. 

But this is where the distinction must be drawn; Care Net is under no illusion that the tactics used to win an argument with a pro-choice person are the same tactics to be used to help a woman choose life for her unborn child. Unfortunately, we fear this distinction is not fully understood by some in the pro-life movement. There are those who believe that an effective pro-life apologetic in the debate room is also an effective tool in the counseling room. 

And this leads to the second problem. Confusing apologetics with compassionate care will cause us to ignore or undervalue the real issues that abortion-minded women and men face. 

Take our young woman whose quote opened this article. If your approach with her was to “talk her out of abortion” by convincing her that she was carrying a human life inside her womb, what would you have done when she said, “Yes, I know it’s a life”¦”? If all you are equipped with is an effective argument about the truth of fetal development, what would you have done when our caller spoke to you about her fears? Indeed, our very real caller revealed that she was considering abortion because of her fear about how her family would react to her pregnancy, her fear about her ability to finish school, and her fear about not being ready to be a parent. 

To address those fears, you need a tool belt full of very different tools than even the best apologetic can give you. You need to know the intricacies of active and interpretive listening, mirroring, crisis intervention, and “care-frontation.” You need to know about resources available to help people work through issues like finding a job, building parenting and relationship skills, and dealing with addictions. 

Indeed, most women and men choose abortion because they are unable to see how they will support – emotionally, financially, physically, socially, spiritually – themselves and their baby, not because they are confused about the unborn child’s personhood.   

The bottom line is that there is a big difference between apologetics and care; between winning an argument and ministering to hearts and minds. Care Net has learned this in our 25 years of pregnancy center ministry. We have learned that we must share compassion, hope, help and the transformative power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who approach us with their difficult pregnancy decisions. This work is hard, it takes time and dedication”¦ and it has resulted in the saving of over 600,000 unborn lives in the last 9 years. 

Regardless, there are many great apologetics tools available to help you be more effective in articulating the pro-life position. For starters, we recommend Why Pro Life? by Randy Alcorn, which you can download for free here on our website. But if you are interested in learning how to minister to women and men considering abortion, you must have a different set of tools. You can start with our free ebook, Ten Things Not To Do When a Woman Says She Wants an Abortion. 

We are hopeful that you will be equipped for two very important, but two very different battles. The battle to win debates and change minds, and the battle to save lives and transform hearts.