What Should You Say to a Woman Who is Happy She Had an Abortion?

Opinion   Josh Brahm   Mar 18, 2014   |   3:21PM    Washington, DC

I got a great question from a colleague recently, and wanted to share my thoughts with you.

The question was this: If a girl comes up and says that Roe vs. Wade has improved her life, and talks about all the things she has been able to do after an abortion like go to college, what do you think is the best way of responding to that?

ihadanabortionExcellent question. Off the top of my head, I think I’d say something like this:

I’m glad that you didn’t suffer any physical complications of your abortion, and that you aren’t suffering from the depression that some of my friends who are also post-abortive have experienced.

Let me ask you a question that’s a little more philosophical though. Do you think there any other factors that people should consider as they try to assess whether abortion is morally right or wrong? Do you think that if some women are not negatively affected by abortion, that proves that abortion is morally neutral?

What I’m doing here is trying to lead her to discussing other things besides whether a particular woman is happy or sad about her abortion. I want to get us talking about the central question of the abortion debate: is the unborn a valuable human being or not? We could demonstrate that abortion is wrong even if every single post-abortive woman had positive feelings about her abortion.

You could also have a discussion about the difference between right/wrong and wise/foolish. Arguably, some pro-life slogans make a stronger case that abortion is foolish, that it’s not a wise decision because of how it affects some women and society. I think women should consider whether abortion is not a wise decision, but we also want them thinking about how some things can be wrong even if they don’t affect us negatively.

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For example, the head of a corporation that irreparably harms the environment or kills whales around Antarctica may not feel any guilt from that, and he may not suffer any loss in profit either. Yet it may still be immoral to harm whales or the environment in that way. (That would probably be a more helpful example than a plantation owner who doesn’t feel bad about owning slaves.)

Here’s what I would never do: Say that you don’t believe the person in front of you. “But everybody is affected by abortion!” “You may not feel guilt yet, but you will later.” Statements like that will not be helpful.