How to Defend Pro Choice Beliefs

Five Methods:Arguing Ethical IssuesDebating Nuances of LifeArguing Practical IssuesDismissing RhetoricDebating Well

Abortion has become a "hot topic" for discussion over the past few years, with almost everyone choosing one side or another on the abortion issue. There is the Pro Life side, which argues abortion is wrong, and the Pro Choice side, which argues that, while abortion may not necessarily be a wonderful thing, it is preferable to forcing someone to carry an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy. Here is how to defend your choice if you choose to agree with the Pro Choice side of the abortion issue.

Method 1
Arguing Ethical Issues

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    Make it clear that you aren't arguing that abortion is a wonderful procedure full of sunshine and rainbows. Being pro choice does not necessarily mean hating babies or coercing people into terminating a pregnancy. It is about allowing people to evaluate their own situations, think hard, and then choose what is best in their unique circumstances.
    • Mention how abortion centers will interview the patient to ensure that they are not being pushed or manipulated into the abortion.[1]
    • One Planned Parenthood ex-volunteer describes being trained on how to give resources (e.g. rehab brochures, information on subsidized childcare) to someone who said that they wanted to keep their pregnancy but didn't think they could.[2] "Choice" includes choosing to keep and love a fetus.
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    Mention the United Nations (UN)'s position on pregnancy and torture. Pregnancy involves around nine months of difficult or debilitating symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, cravings, exhaustion, and more. The UN has classified forcing a pregnant person to continue a pregnancy against their will as torture.[3][4]
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    Point out double standards regarding bodily autonomy in government. For example, in most countries, vital organs cannot be harvested from a corpse without the dead person's prior consent. If corpses are allowed to control organs that could save lives, while pregnant people cannot control their uteruses, then a pregnant person has less bodily rights than a corpse.[5]
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    Discuss cases in which abortion could protect the pregnant person from severe harm or even death. Some pregnancies, such as tubal pregnancies, are ticking time bombs[6]—the fetus faces certain death and the pregnant person could be harmed too. These people should have the right to safety.
    • Aborting a fetus before it naturally miscarries, and being kind about it, can save the pregnant person a lot of pain and danger to health (especially if the dying fetus was wanted and loved).[7]
    • Ask if causing both pregnant person and fetus to die is pro life.
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    Mention the pregnant person's future. Ask if they believe the birth of an unwanted child to a young, promising person would hinder their life. Of course it will: it'll cause financial expense, increased stress, enormous medical bills (if they lack adequate insurance), and other hardships. Ask: Is it ethical to force this upon someone who never asked for it?
    • Not all pregnant people consented to sex—rape victims didn't, and some pregnant people were too young to consent to sex (e.g. 13-year-old girls).
    • Even if the sex that led to pregnancy was consensual, consent to one thing does not automatically translate to equal consent to another. Many people may not fully comprehend the implications of their actions. Thus, why would consent to sex be viewed as consent to pregnancy and childbirth?
    • Around 3/4 of people who get abortions say they could not afford a(nother) child.[8] Is the pro-life person supporting programs that would help low-income families?
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    Examine whether they have a middle ground. They may argue exceptions of rape, incest, pregnant children/teens, dead or dying fetuses, et cetera. Ask what makes these cases so different. Continue examining different cases, and they'll begin to realize that abortion is far more than black and white.
    • For rape/incest exceptions, point out that this isn't about a "right to life" at all then, because a fetus created from rape is no less alive than a fetus created from consensual sex. It is about punishing the pregnant person (often a woman) for consenting to sex.[9][10][11]
    • For "pro need" type beliefs, point out that this is the foundation of the pro choice movement: that if the pregnant person feels their individual case is serious, then they should be able to abort. Shake their hand and say you wholeheartedly agree.

Method 2
Debating Nuances of Life

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    Ask them to consider the following question: if we cannot decide at what point life actually begins, can we decide at what point life ends? If they don't know, explain the concept of brain death, and how doctors pronounce a patient dead when the brain stops sending pulse signals to the body. A fetus' brain begins sending signals eight weeks into pregnancy. Use this argument to show that since life ends when the brain stops, shouldn't life begin when the brain starts?
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    If they insist that life begins at fertilization, point out identical twins. Up to two weeks after fertilization, that clump of cells could split up into identical twins. Where did the second life come from?
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    If they insist that life begins at fertilization, ask what they think about cloning. Assuming that human cloning takes place - probably a matter of time - no fertilization takes place at all, the new person has the exact same genetic information as the "donor", yet they are clearly distinct individuals.
    • Animals, such as Dolly the sheep, have been successfully cloned and were very much alive.[12][13]
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    Point out that people are willing to kill similarly-sized organisms without calling it a sin. Mosquitoes, spiders, cockroaches, mice, and rats might cause annoyance at best and illness at worse. Many people kill them or call exterminators without second thought. An unwanted fetus can cause almost nine months of suffering in an unwilling pregnant person, far worse than any other pest, so why is this life sacred?
    • Remind them that there is a difference between a wanted and an unwanted fetus. A happy parent-to-be is willing to suffer because they love the fetus and look forward to having a baby. This is great! But a person who doesn't benefit from the pregnancy is only suffering.
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    Remember that the precise beginning of life is not the point—bodily autonomy is.[14] Is it okay to force someone's body to host a fetus against their will? Can someone's body be used as an incubator?
    • If they believe that life begins at fertilization and must be protected at all costs, then what about the zygotes that are naturally rejected by the uterus? Are they doing anything about those? Statistically speaking, someone on birth control is less likely to have a fertilized egg, and thus is less likely to have a zygote die. Yet the pro life movement does nothing about this.[15]

Method 3
Arguing Practical Issues

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    Mention that anti-abortion laws don't significantly change abortion rates. Global studies suggest that abortion rates are not really affected by whether abortion is legal.[16] Thus, banning abortion would not reduce abortions, but force people to use underground methods, which can be much more risky.
    • Free contraception and comprehensive sex education can lower abortion rates.[17][18] One estimate suggested that free contraception could cut the abortion rate by as much as 75%.[19] If they really are concerned about life, instead of being anti-sex, then they should be campaigning for these things.
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    Explain how legalizing abortion can save lives. For example, the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act significantly reduced abortion-related deaths.[20] When abortion is legal, it becomes safer, saving lives of people who seek it.[21]
    • If anyone believes that abortion seekers deserve to die, point out that it isn't very pro-life to want pregnant person and fetus dead.
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    Explain how difficult it would be to enforce anti-abortion laws. The procedure used in performing abortions is identical to the procedure used to investigate bad pap smears. This is how abortions were covered up in the past.
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    Explain that abortion laws, such as the one mentioned in Roe vs. Wade, were not about the moral implications of abortion. They were about safety and the right to privacy.

Method 4
Dismissing Rhetoric

Some pro-life people use emotion-driven rhetoric and flawed logic. Here are ways to respond to various bad arguments.

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    Shrug off speculation of "How would you feel if your mom aborted you?" Explain that you wouldn't have feelings because you wouldn't exist, and that people can give birth while supporting others' right not to. You may wish to add that you love your mother and wouldn't want her to endure 9 months of a forced pregnancy.
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    Remind them that being pro-choice is not anti-family. No one is disputing that a wanted, loved pregnancy is a beautiful thing.[22] Pro-choice people support a person's ability to choose what happens inside their body. (This is why the position is called pro-choice and not pro-rampant-abortion.)
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    Point out inherent flaws in disaster comparisons. The death of an unwanted fetus is not the same as genocide, slavery, or the murder of an autonomous person. (A fetus or embryo, unlike a human being, is using another person's body in order to exist.)
    • If they point out that murdering disabled people and children is wrong, and disabled/young people may not be autonomous, the key is that any caregivers consent to caring for that person. (For example, an autistic person's caregiver chose that job and can quit at any time.)
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    Dismiss speculations about what the fetus could have been. The fetus could have cured cancer, yes... or it could have been a serial killer (which is statistically more likely). One could imagine all sorts of things, but none of it is relevant to the point of human rights.
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    Point out the hypocrisy (and bad manners) of showing graphic abortion pictures. Heart surgery and the removal of tumors are also graphic procedures, yet those aren't automatically evil. Furthermore, gore can trigger phobias, PTSD, and other awful reactions, so it's not exactly a kind thing to shove in strangers' faces.

Method 5
Debating Well

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    Be polite and courteous when defending your beliefs. Never interrupt, shout over, or insult another person (even if you feel that they really, really deserve it).
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    Never insult someone else's religion. Religion and government are separate, and religion and abortion rights are separate. Condemning someone's entire religion is cruel and divisive.
    • Not all religious people are anti-choice; for example, it is possible for some self identified Christians to be pro-choice. Even if the person in front of you is a flaming bigot, think of the nice religious people, and don't insult their religion.
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    Don't manipulate rhetoric. Pro-choice people have long pointed out how "baby" and "unborn child" are manipulative ways to refer to an unwanted fetus. But calling all fetuses "clumps of cells" is also an insensitive use of rhetoric, because there are some fetuses that are truly loved and wanted, and to those parents the fetus is far more special. Stick with the factual term fetus.
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    Remember that not all pregnant people are women. Transgender men, nonbinary people, and some intersex people of any gender can also get pregnant. Be sure not to step on the toes of transgender people as you fight for the rights of everyone with a uterus.
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    Take a break if you need to. You are not obligated to change anyone's mind, nor do you have to keep talking to someone who says very rude or upsetting things. This may be personally upsetting to you. Say "I don't want to talk about this anymore," "I need a break," or "I need to get some air" if you can't keep calm. Any decent person will respect your wishes.
    • If the person makes you feel unsafe, leave right away. Call police if you are being threatened or stalked.


  • Make sure your arguments can be supported by logic and/or scientific evidence.
  • If you want to lower the abortion rate, focus on the reasons why people get abortions (e.g. can't afford a child, unintended pregnancy).[23] You can be pro-choice while hoping to decrease the need for abortions, so that fewer people have them.
  • Be polite. Just because you disagree with the other person's opinion on abortion, don't interrupt and shout at them. Calmly explain your point, and allow them to do the same.


  • If you mention religion too much, be prepared as this may turn in to a never-ending argument.
  • Understand that this is a very touchy issue for most people, and that it can break friendships, and cause grudges. Stay away from "hot button" issues such as abortion if you feel it may cause a fight or create a rift between two people.
  • Don't expect to change anyone's mind in five minutes. If you feel very strongly about this, then the other person probably feel just as strongly about their own opinions. Allow them time to think about it, and never push too hard. Pushing will only cause the other person to feel antagonized and firmer in their original beliefs.

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Categories: Human Rights | Feminism and Sexism