I want to bring relational apologetics to the pro-life movement. I’ve written and spoken previously about my dear friend Deanna Young. I’d encourage you to check out one of those two links to get the beginning of the story that I’m going to continue here. I’m so excited to tell you why Deanna now calls herself pro-life.
In case you didn’t click either of those links, Deanna was a pro-choice, atheist lesbian in Canada who befriended me in February 2013, through a YouTube message. Deanna was one of the most intelligent pro-choice bloggers I’d ever read. We exchanged nearly 120 philosophical emails, then started Skyping together.
I’m eager to share with you how my relationship with Deanna has progressed and the ways that her thinking has changed, but there’s a danger in this. It’s possible that some people would read this and interpret it as me telling you about a project of mine. It’s very important to me that you know that Deanna is not an object to me, a mind to be changed so that I can get another notch on my pro-life belt.
I have no shame in telling you that I love Deanna.
Yes, I have close friends who are girls, and if you want to know why I think it’s healthy for some Christians to have cross-sex friendships, my friend (notice I didn’t call her a colleague) Jonalyn Fincher has published some wonderful thoughts on this subject.
When I say that I love Deanna, I mean what Jason Lepojärvi means when he defined love this way:
Love says that it is good that you exist and insofar as I am able I will contribute to your happiness, your existence, your flourishing.
Some of my pro-choice friends have not changed their thinking about abortion very much, but Deanna has. I want to share with you some of the changes in her thinking. Don’t read these as the reasons I’m friends with Deanna. Deanna will always be my friend, regardless of her views on abortion, her religion or her sexuality.
A pro-choice sidewalk counselor?
Last August I knew that Deanna’s views about abortion were shifting when she asked me to Skype with her about sidewalk counseling. At this point in Deanna’s journey she thought that abortion was very immoral, but an act that should still be legal (like adultery or lying). She thought this because of her view that the unborn were fully valuable persons, but didn’t deserve legal protection because of bodily autonomy arguments. (Read or listen to my response to bodily autonomy arguments here.)
Yet Deanna believed that abortion was so wrong that she wanted to go to her local abortion facility and encourage girls not to have the abortions she thought should be legal.
Yeah, that’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard too.
Our first conversation about religion
Last December Deanna asked me for the first time why I was a Christian. She knew by now that I was an intelligent person who wouldn’t put his faith into a religion that was full of nonsense. We had a great conversation about the reasons I believe Jesus actually did walk out of His own tomb.
It wasn’t an awkward conversation at all. It was two close friends talking about one of many subjects that they are both interested in and care about.
A major change
Four months later I Skyped with Deanna and she told me that she had changed her thinking about abortion again. She now thought that all surgical abortions should be illegal and only chemical abortions should be legal, even though they are still immoral.
Deanna is coming from a bodily rights perspective, and it seems that while surgical abortions are clearly not parallel to Thomson’s violinist story, perhaps chemical abortions are. RU-486 seems more like unhooking from the violinist than a surgical abortion does.
This is currently Deanna’s view, and I have more work to do on defending my belief that RU-486 is more like taking a baby from inside a boat and placing it in a lake, and then blaming the baby’s death on the water. This takes us into “direct versus indirect killing” territory, which some people joke “is where philosophical arguments go to die.”
At this point Deanna was going through a mild self-identity crisis. Regardless of how you would define the label “pro-life,” a former pro-choice blogger now thought that all abortions were extremely wrong and the majority of them should be illegal. This was enough for Deanna to call herself “pro-life.”
How would she tell her friends? Most of her friends were pro-choice, and some were actively so. Deanna realized that she would have to come out of the closet for a second time, this time not as a gay person, but as a pro-life person.
Would she be rejected? Deanna didn’t know, but she later told me that she found comfort in one thought: Even if every one of her pro-choice friends rejected her, she would have one pro-life friend on the other side welcoming her with loving arms.
Deanna would tell you that two things were necessary conditions for her conversion: rigorous philosophical arguments and a loving friendship with someone on the other side. The intellectual arguments were very important. I haven’t written very much about our initial email exchanges yet, but we got very philosophical, going back and forth on issues like bodily rights arguments, rape, the concept of intrinsic human value, concepts of harm and taking away the dignity of people in temporary comas, moral objectivism, utilitarianism, stem cell research, the “after-birth abortion” paper, and the use of graphic pictures.
CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!
It was through those lengthy emails that Deanna and I first became close. And after Deanna believed that most of her philosophical arguments had been defeated by better arguments, she completed her conversion upon realizing that a pro-life person loved her, even while she was an actively pro-choice blogger. I took my cue from Jesus, who, while I was yet a sinner, loved me anyway, and adopted me. (Romans 5:8.)
On May 8, 2014, Deanna went to the Canada National March for Life, wearing her handmade pro-life shirt:
because its parents are human,
because it’s growing
and all humans should have an equal right to life
so it should have a right to life.
What do you think?
Deanna is excited for you to read this update of her story. We even want to do some speaking events together. As she put it in a text message, she wants to help me save babies.