Pro-life Apologetics: ‘Personally, I’m Against Abortion, But…’

Standing up for life and against abortion shouldn’t be a controversial proposition. Sadly, in New York—and in much of the United States—it is. As Christians, our Biblically-based beliefs on abortion sometimes lead us into conversations with others who may not share our convictions. When that happens, it’s important that we be equipped to make the case for life.

The following argument may be the most common argument in favor of the abortion “choice”: “Personally, I’m against abortion. But who am I to pass laws that impose my morality on others?” A similar argument runs this way: “I’d never have an abortion myself, but I can’t make that choice for another woman.” This argument can be traced back to a speech made by Gov. Mario Cuomo at the University of Notre Dame in 1984; since then, it has been used by many cowardly politicians seeking to pander to the pro-life community while staking out a pro-choice political position.

In addition to being cowardly, this argument is nonsensical. To see the flaw in the argument, try substituting some other words in place of the word “abortion”:

  • “Personally, I’m against animal cruelty. But who am I to pass laws that impose my morality on others?”
  • “Personally, I’m against child abuse. But who am I to pass laws that impose my morality on others?”
  • “Personally, I’m against human trafficking. But who am I to pass laws that impose my morality on others?”

The notion that governments should not “legislate morality” is absurd; laws are the way that a society expresses public morality. Animal cruelty, child abuse, and human trafficking are morally repugnant and destructive acts, and government has banned them accordingly. So, the $64,000 question is: Why should abortion be legal while these other acts remain illegal?

The pro-choice movement would respond to this question by invoking Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chant during his 2013 State of the State Address: “Because it’s her body, it’s her choice!” The argument for legal abortion rests on the dangerous fiction that abortion only affects one person, and that it is, therefore, a purely personal act that should remain beyond the reach of government. Of course, abortion affects many people other than the aborted baby’s mother: The baby’s father and other relatives, to name a few. But the person who is most profoundly affected by an abortion is the baby whose life is cruelly ended. Abortion is not simply a matter of “her body, her choice”; there is a second body involved. That is the reason that abortion should be illegal.

The next time you hear pro-choice people use the “personally opposed” argument, try responding this way: “The reason that you personally oppose abortion is the same reason that abortion should be illegal.” You’ll give them something to think about—and you might even prompt them to change their minds.