The abortion debate is unique. On one side is pro-life, which has all the facts that the public doesn't want to hear. On the other side is pro-abortion, which has few facts, but soothing words that the public does want to hear. This means that the pro-life side has one great advantage and one great disadvantage in a debating environment: It has the truth, but it must present this truth in a manner that will convert people - and this process requires a considerable psychological investment on the part of the audience.
Therefore, the pro-life debater must be especially convincing. When speaking about abortion, it is generally advisable to take the defensive (responsive) position. If you simply speak the truth, it will not have as great an impact on an audience as having someone else spew lies and slogans and then having you aggressively debunk them.
There are basically four ways to respond to pro-abortion allegations:
3. Parallelism, and
To refute an argument means to expose it as a lie in the most direct and aggressive manner possible. This is the simplest and best way to make points during a debate. You should have at least one chance to refute during any pro-life/anti-life debate, and you should seize any opportunity and make the most of it. To expose a pro-abortion debater as a bare-faced liar is to destroy his credibility with a large segment of the audience.
Keep in mind, however, that you will never sway the hard-core pro-abortionists who are listening, because their reasoning processes have become so ossified.
Example of Refutation
Pro-Abortionist: "We will never go back to the days when thousands of women were killed every year by back-alley quacks."
Pro-Lifer: "Your statement that thousands of women died of illegal abortions before it was legalised is an outright lie. In 1972, the year before abortion was legalised, the United States Centers for Disease Control documented less than a hundred deaths caused by illegal abortions. "You obviously do not trust the audience to think for themselves if you have to lie to them."
Refutation is particularly effective when you can point out to your audience that your opponent has been caught in this same lie several times before. This tells listeners that your opponent is not only dishonest, but hardheaded as well.
In some instances, a pro-abortionist will make a statement that literally cannot be answered because it is so broad in scope. Your job is to get him to clarify his statement so that you can make an effective reply. The replies you can use in virtually any case are "What do you mean by that?," and "How do you know that (where's your proof)?" You can use these simple, inoffensive statements to pin your opponent into a corner in very short order, and to make several points of your own, as shown on the following page:
Example of Clarification Pro-Abortionist: (quick and clumsy back-pedal). Since the pro-abortion debater starts out his line of reasoning with an obviously false statement, you should be able to make him look foolish by simply demanding proof. The words "How do you know that?" are all that you need. Your opponent will be forced to try and change the subject, or lay a smoke screen in the hope that the audience will forget his original silly statement. Don't let your opponent get away, keep after him.
Pro-Abortionist: "Well, you anti-choice people are all just violent fanatics."
Pro-Lifer: "What do you mean by that? Are you specifically accusing me of doing something illegal?"
Pro-Lifer (to the audience): "You can see what my opponent is trying to do here. He is using guilt by association to paint my entire movement with the same characteristics as a few people. If I did the same thing to him, he would almost die of indignation."
Pro-Abortionist: "You anti-choice fanatics don't care about women."
Pro-Lifer: "What do you mean by that? We have twice as many Crisis Pregnancy Centers helping women than you have abortion clinics aborting them. We provide tens of thousands of women with food, housing, education, and everything else they need all over the country. Your abortion clinics don't do that. All they do is scrape out their uteruses and push them out the door. So what exactly do you mean when you say that we don't care about women?"
Example of Clarification
Pro-Abortionist: (quick and clumsy back-pedal).
Since the pro-abortion debater starts out his line of reasoning with an obviously false statement, you should be able to make him look foolish by simply demanding proof. The words "How do you know that?" are all that you need. Your opponent will be forced to try and change the subject, or lay a smoke screen in the hope that the audience will forget his original silly statement. Don't let your opponent get away, keep after him.
This is the most common tactic used by pro-life debaters to expose the basically illogical nature of pro-abortion allegations. It is a technique of 'verbal karate:' It will turn your opponent's arguments against him. Only the logic of a good argument will stand the test of being properly applied to a wide variety of situations. Parallelism consists of simply applying your opponent's reasoning to a similar situation in a different context, and showing how illogical his reasoning really is.
Parallelism can also be used to illustrate your point to the audience, just as Jesus used parables to teach His followers. You must remember that the pro-abortion debater is well-schooled in the technique of using Newspeak. Your opponent has no real facts to back him up, so he will use 'feel-good' words and slick-sounding slogans that will sound very good to the audience if you do not challenge them.
Your opponent will make an appeal with such concepts as freedom, 'choice,' and autonomy. Your job is to show that these lines of reasoning do not stand on their own merits.
Example of Parallelism
Pro-Abortionist: "But abortion is perfectly legal. That means that you have no right to tamper with it!"
Pro-Lifer: "You are saying that whatever is legal is ethical and moral. This means that you must approve of the slaughter of the Jews during World War II. The Bundestag declared that genocide to be 'perfectly legal.' This means that you are pro-Apartheid. The South African government declared it to be 'perfectly legal.' I had no idea you were such a reactionary!"
Your opponent will inevitably focus on the 'hard cases' which are most favorable to the pro-abortion side. When you 'extrapolate,' you are merely extending his argument to include the actual current or impending situation(s).The basic idea here is to trap your opponent into 'drawing the line.' This is known as 'the argument of the beard,' an expression originating with debaters who posed the theoretical question about exactly how many hairs constitute a full beard.
At what point does he approve of abortion, and for what reasons? For gender selection? At 18 weeks? At six months? This tactic gives you a great opportunity to explain to the audience that abortion is legal throughout pregnancy, and for any reason. Your anti-life opponent will inevitably be totally committed to abortion rights and will be forced to either defend convenience abortions and late abortions, or once again try to escape by 'blowing smoke.' Once again, don't let him get away! Press your advantage!
Example of Extrapolation
Pro-Abortionist: "What about rape and incest?"
Pro-Lifer: "Okay. Rape and incest. But are you willing to say that you would allow abortion just for rape and incest, which account for only one percent of all abortions in this country? How about if the woman is too young? Too old? Has too many kids? What if her birth control failed? Or if she just doesn't want another out-of-wedlock child? How about if the baby is the wrong sex? By the way, do you approve of sex-selection abortions? Isn't it true that you are really for abortion on demand, for any and all reasons, no matter how frivolous?"