<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1906385056278061&ev=PageView&noscript=1" />
Skip to main content Accessibility feedback

Pro-Life Bootcamp

Trent Horn

Audio only:

The man who wrote the book Persuasive Pro-Life gives us a primer on how to share arguments against abortion. Use these effective techniques to move yourself and others closer to the truth about tiny, little, unborn people.

Pro-life boot camp with Trent Horn right now.

Cy: Hello, and welcome again to Catholic Answers Focus. I’m Cy Kellett, your host, and in studio with me today, our good friend Trent Horn, author of many things, including a book called Persuasive Pro-life. We thought with Trent, we’d take this opportunity to do a little pro-life boot camp, get the basics about how to make and sustain pro-life arguments, maybe even get into a little bit of what works practically and what practically doesn’t work.

Hello, Trent. Thanks for being with us.

Trent: Hello, Cy. Wonderful to be here.

Cy: Okay, so I feel like we’re… What are we, 50 years into this pro-life battle or something here in the U.S.? And-

Trent: Well, it depends how you date it. Most people will date the pro-life movement from Roe v. Wade in January of 1973, but really the pro-life movement was operating for several years before that because abortion laws were being liberalized in places like Colorado, California, Hawaii, New York, and so there were people who were committed to the pro-life worldview who were working at that time to try to change those laws at the state level and pass laws in other places to make it explicit that abortion should not be legal. Where we are-

Cy: So more than 50 years.

Trent: More than 50 years, but if you date it from Roe v. Wade, we’re coming up on about 50 years. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not something that should cause us to lose heart. We cannot give up in this fight because too many lives are counting on us. God is calling us to always stand up for the oppressed, the afflicted everywhere, and He will ultimately win the victory. But He’s counting on us to be voices for the voiceless and to speak about abortion.

I find when this issue comes up, there’s two extremes. There’s people who are terrified to speak, so they don’t want to say anything, and then people who are just ready to rage at others. I’ve had some people even criticize me, saying that if I really thought abortion was wrong, I should just be yelling at people who disagree with me. Otherwise, there’s something wrong with me.

That’s not the case. I am deeply disturbed and emotional about this issue, but there’s a difference between having strong emotions and being emotional, that our emotions are things that we control. They shouldn’t be the ones controlling us. We don’t want to put our emotions in the driver’s seat. It’s okay to have them in the backseat, and they tell you, “Hey, what’s going on?” and we take that into account, but we don’t want emotions in the driver’s seat because then we can’t have productive conversations with people. If we’re completely emotional with them, we’re not going to be able to change their mind.

You’re pro-life. Imagine if someone who was pro-choice just became hysterical with you and said you were enslaving women, you’re hurting women, and you’re valuing them over a clump of cells, and yelled and shrieked. Would you be likely to consider their message? I doubt it. We shouldn’t-

Cy: Well, it depends. If it was a Hollywood movie star, I might. They do that kind of thing every now and then.

Trent: I like that in films when they’re being fictional actors. When Hollywood actors just flip out in real life, it’s just like they’re a Christian Bale viral video. Remember that a while back? Am I in your light? Are you happy with yourself now? Why aren’t you pro-choice? I don’t know. The last part didn’t happen.

Cy: Over the course of the 50 years, at least the way I see it, having been raised in a pro-life household and being more than 50 years old myself, it seems that the arguments and the way of talking about this has developed. It seems to me that people in general on the pro-life side are better at making arguments and being clear, and actually moving towards change by making good arguments than we were in the 1970s.

Trent: Yeah. I think that we are doing a lot better, and what I’ve tried very hard to do is to teach people how I talk about this message, how I talk about any issue, but especially the pro-life issue, I want to do it in a way so that the other person has to grapple with the issue for themselves and become disturbed by it and are motivated to change their minds when they really think about it. I go through a particular method to do that, and I thought it might be helpful to-

Cy: Yeah, do that.

Trent: … brush up on that method here, being pro-life month, we’re coming up on the anniversary commemorating Roe v. Wade, that particular method and how it works.

Cy: Okay, so walk us through it. Say I’ve become convinced, I realize, “You know what, it’s worth defending human life in all stages. I want to be a part of that,” but I’ve never done it before. Where do I begin?

Trent: The easiest thing you can do is ask questions. You should ask the other person questions, and you can make a big difference by just asking them questions and asking them to construct their view on abortion in front of you. Just say, “Okay, what do you think about legal abortion? Do you think it should be legal through all nine months for any reason whatsoever”? Most people won’t say they’re in favor of that. They’ll say, “Well, no. I’m against late-term abortions” or “I’m against abortion for birth control,” things like that.

Then you can ask more questions like, “Okay, so why are you okay with some abortions, but not other abortions?” or “Why are late abortions bad for you, but not early ones?” You want them to get their view together. So that’s one way I would recommend, by asking questions.

The other way is to ask them, “A big question is, why do you think abortion ought to be legal?” I want to hear that answer because there’s two types of answers the person is going to give, either an answer that’s off-topic what we need to be talking about and one that’s on-topic. Because there’s one thing we got to talk about in the conversation. Always go back to this one question. What are the unborn? That is what you always… Always just keep the conversation back there.

Cy: Just keep going back there. Okay.

Trent: You have to. You notice when I talk to people on Catholic Answers Live, I’m always bringing the conversation back to what are the unborn, no matter what. Don’t get distracted by other things.

In order to do that, I to hear what their reason is. Why do you think abortion should be legal? Every now and then, it will be “Well, because a fetus is not a person” or “An unborn child is just a clump of cells.” That answers our question, what are the unborn?

In fact, I had a conversation recently on my own podcast, The Counsel of Trent, with an atheist YouTuber. Her name is Shannon Q. We sat down, and she said, “Well, I’m for abortion because a fetus is not a person.” All right, we’re at the one thing I want to talk about.

Cy: Yes. Okay, so-

Trent: Let’s talk about that.

Cy: … now we can have a conversation.

Trent: But most people are not that direct. Most people, the reason they’ll give is because abortion, they see it as being necessary for the flourishing of born people. Think about what are the most reasons that you hear why abortion should be legal.

Cy: That’s kind of why I said the Hollywood thing, because that Hollywood actress just said that at-

Trent: Michelle Williams.

Cy: She said that abortion had made it possible for her to have the life she wanted, which I thought was kind of a very sad thing to say.

Trent: Yeah, that’s really sad.

Cy: I don’t think she knows what she did.

Trent: I think what she was trying to do was to… I will give her credit. It was an artful and eloquent way to try to put forward abortion. But what’s interesting is even in her own response, Williams did not say the word abortion. She started out with choice. We have choices. We’re like, “Yeah, choice is great. Choice is good.” And I couldn’t have done this without my right to choose. Well, wait, back up a little bit. Not all choices are equally good.

We could ask, “Okay, so you’re saying abortion, not just the right to choose, but I want to use the word abortion, should be legal because without legal abortion you could not have become an actress.” When those off-topic reasons that don’t answer the question “What are the unborn?” when it doesn’t answer that question, I want to get back to what are the unborn, so I use a technique my friend Scott Klusendorf developed called Trot Out a Toddler. The way that works is there are four steps.

Cy: I like it, though. Trot Out a Toddler.

Trent: Oh, yeah. T-O-A-T is what we would call it, TOAT. There are four steps later developed. Agree, apply, ask why, and ah. Agree, apply, ask why, and ah.

Take the Williams example. “Abortion should be legal because women have choices. How could I have become an actress without this?” Okay, I agree with you. Women should have lots of choices. A woman should be able to choose to go to acting school. They shouldn’t say, “You can’t be in this acting school. You’re a dame. We don’t take women in this acting school.” Whenever I have the-

Cy: Okay, 1920s Trent. Yes, dame.

Trent: Next you’re going to be wanting to vote and say that you’re not really hysterical all the time. But you would say, “Yeah, of course it’s wrong when women have been deprived of choices in the past just because they’re women, and that’s wrong.” But that’s important to find this common ground, because the other person might think…

I remember once Dr. Warren Hern, who is an abortion provider, he said the only difference between the Taliban, which is a very anti-woman extremist Muslim group in Afghanistan, this terrorist group, he said the only difference between the Taliban, who will throw acid on women’s faces who are out in public by themselves, the only difference between the Taliban and anti-choicers or pro-lifers is 8,000 miles.

Cy: Oh, man.

Trent: Now, he’s doing that for rhetorical effect, but there are people out there who think that people who are pro-life are really anti-woman. When we can find common ground on anything, it’s like, “Okay, I’m willing to hear you out a bit more.” That’s why the agree is very important, not to be overlooked.

Then after agree, you go to apply. I take whatever the argument is, and I apply it to a two-year-old. There I’d say, “Okay, I agree women should have choices. It’s great women become actresses. But suppose a woman said, ‘The only way I could become an actress is if I kill my two-year-old, because I don’t want anyone else to adopt him, I can’t focus on my work if somebody else is raising him, so I want to just euthanize him in his sleep and go on to become an actress.’ Should we allow women to kill their two-year-olds so they can become actresses?” What are most people going to say?

Cy: “No, of course not. You can’t kill two-year-olds.”

Trent: So it’s agree, apply, and then you want to be, remember, I said asking questions, because then you want to jump and say, “But then you shouldn’t be killing babies either.” Now the wall goes up, so we want to be subtle. Agree, apply, ask why.

We just say, “Help me out. I know this might sound like a dumb question. Why should a woman not be allowed to kill her two-year-old to become an actress?” The person will probably say something like, “Well, you can’t kill people,” or they may know where you’re going and say, “You can’t kill born people.” And I’ll say, okay, agree, apply, ask why, “Ah, so that’s the issue.” It’s not about choice, because you and I agree we don’t kill born people in the name of choice. It’s about whether the unborn are as human as a born child.”

Cy: Now we’re back onto what we should be talking about-

Trent: We’re on what we’re talking about.

Cy: … the life of the child.

Trent: That’s right. It works for any argument for abortion that does not answer the question “What are the unborn?” When people say, “The world is overpopulated,” “I agree there are places where there are lots of people.” You don’t even have to agree, or you could say this. “Let’s say you were right for the sake of the argument.”

Cy: Yeah. That’s a way of agreeing without actually agreeing.

Trent: Without committing to something you don’t really agree with, but you’re lending a little goodwill to show, “Even if you were right about overpopulation…”

Cy: Okay, let’s take-

Trent: “Let’s say you were right. Should we go around killing two-year-olds to ease overpopulation?” You could pick something besides a two-year-old if you wanted too.

Cy: I know this is not the majority by any means, but there are people who will say yes to these wild questions-

Trent: Yeah, but I think there’s two kinds of people. Some of them are genuinely disturbed, but I find that in the minority. You just have to ask them, “What people can you not kill?” If they think it’s fine to kill anybody, well, the conversation may not be worth continuing, at least not without a security detail. And other people are just yanking your chain. They are just trying to give you a hard time. You might say, “If you’re not going to seriously answer the questions, I don’t want to have this… I want to have serious discussions with other people.”

Cy: I guess a person who can even meet the moral minimums of being humane will say, “No, you can’t go and kill all the two-year-olds.”

Trent: Yeah. Or you could pick other examples, people in prisons, killing the homeless. I just use two-year-olds because it’s an-

Cy: They’re so innocent.

Trent: It’s an uncontroversial example. “No, you can’t do that.” “Why not?” “Because you can’t kill people, even if the world is overpopulated.” “Okay, that’s the issue. If the unborn are as human as a two-year-old, we shouldn’t kill them either.”

Then the more and more you do these Trot Out a Toddler examples, you get better at playing with the analogies. For overpopulation, a fun one I like to ask is “Okay, let’s say there’s too many people, and you recommend abortion. What if not enough women choose abortion? Do you think we should force some women to have abortions if the world is overpopulated?”

Cy: That’s a real thing that has happened all over the world.

Trent: It has. Most pro-choice advocates, all of them I’ve asked, have said no. So I say, “Okay, well, why not? Why not force someone to have an abortion?” And they say, “Well, you can’t violate someone’s rights, even if the world is overpopulated.” “Okay, that’s the issue. It’s not overpopulation. It’s can we violate someone’s rights. If we can’t force someone to have an abortion, is it right to force someone to be aborted for the same reason?” Then you move it through. That’s the goal.

We want to use Trot Out a Toddler. We agree with anything behind the sentiment we can. If it’s an argument that does not answer the question “What are the unborn?” we agree with it whenever we can, then we apply it to the killing of a two-year-old, the same reason, choice, overpopulation, privacy, I’m too young, poverty, whatever it may be. “Should we kill a two-year-old for that reason?” “No.” Ask why. “Why not? Just humor me.” “Because you can’t kill people.” “Okay. Ah, that’s the issue.” It’s not about whatever the reason was; it’s about whether the unborn-

Cy: Is a person.

Trent: … is a person or is fully human like a toddler. Now we’re on the one question I want to be talking about.

Cy: Okay. All right. Now, the first thing is you haven’t just become emotional about the topic, because as much as that might prove your bona fides as a pro-life person, it’s not actually an effective strategy, just be angry and blowing up at people.

Trent: You can have emotions. It’s okay to feel emotional about this, but we must harness that. And by asking questions, it defuses hostility and keeps us from being emotional. I find sometimes these very simple questions cause the other side to become emotional because they see the grave nature of what they’re trying to defend.

Cy: Okay. Then the second point you made was always keep the focus on the child. Don’t let the child get lost in this.

Trent: Yeah. That’s why for example, if someone says, “Well, what about poverty?” and you lose the child if you say, “Well, no one’s too poor to have a child” or “There’s welfare” or “There’s adoption.” You’re losing the child when you go down those rabbit holes.

Just agree for the sake of the argument. Say, “Yeah, let’s say we were really impoverished and we didn’t have resources and things are pretty tight, would you kill a two-year-old in that situation?” Most people would still say no. “Why not?” Don’t lose sight of the child. Don’t go down the rabbit hole. Stick with Trot Out a Toddler. Agree, apply, ask why, and ah. You’ll want to do that.

Then when you’re on the question “What are the unborn?” then you have a task. You need to show the unborn are members of the human species. That’s science. And they’re different than us, but not different in a way that justifies killing them. That’d be philosophy.

Cy: Okay, so the science… Because lots of people will say, “Oh, come on.” It’s the old clump of cells argument, I guess, but sometimes made more elaborately. I remember Philip Bump at the Washington Post one time did an article where he asked an obstetrician-gynecologist when human life begins, and the OB-GYN was all over the place with “Well, how could we know?” and all this. But obviously, you don’t ask an OB-GYN. You ask an embryologist about when life begins, and that-

Trent: Embryologists, it’s universal. The few who will say life begins at a point besides conception are talking about it in terms of philosophy, not science.

Cy: Science says, “When does the life of the mammal begin?” so to speak.

Trent: The life of an organism, yeah. An organism that develops in this way… Because there are other mammals, as you say, like dogs or elephants, go through embryonic and fetal development. Fertilization is when a new human organism comes into existence.

Now, you can show that by just asking questions, by saying, “Look, the unborn, are they growing?” Yeah, by cellular reproduction, so they’ve got to be alive. They’re growing, so they’ve got to be alive. If they weren’t alive, you wouldn’t need abortion. That’s the grim truth.

Cy: Very good point.

Trent: They’ve got to be alive. If they have human parents and human DNA, they’ve got to be human. Now, that word, human, can have a philosophical meaning. I would ask people, “Hey, just human DNA…”

Cy: Species.

Trent: Species. This is the human species, and this is not just a clump of cells in the sense of a body part, like when I scratch my hand, cells come off. The unborn are not body parts. They’re a whole body.

Cy: Oh, yeah, that’s a very interesting point, because you do hear that. “Well, what’s the difference between that little clump of cells and, I don’t know, like you said, scratching cells off my skin?”

Trent: Skin cells, sperm cells, egg cells. The difference is is that this entity, it is an organism, and we know that because it passes something that I call the NET test, N-E-T. How do I know it’s an organism and not an organ or body part? If I can give this thing nutrition, the right environment, and time, does it have the capacity to become a mature member of a species? This is true for puppies and babies, for you or I, for plants, for all kinds of organisms, but it’s not…

If we give it the right environment, the right nutrients, and time, it can develop into a mature member of the species. It can. It won’t always. Some organisms die in infancy or die early in their development, but they are capable of doing that. But if you take my skin cells off my hand, sperm, egg, if you give them any nutrient, any environment, unlimited time, what will you still have?

Cy: Yeah. They don’t have a trajectory. They don’t have the trajectory of a life.

Trent: That’s why you should always point out to someone who says, “Oh, well, it’s just a fetus” or “It’s just an embryo,” what do those words mean?

Cy: Yeah, those are descriptions of a stage.

Trent: Of development in an organism. If you look them up in medical dictionaries, an embryo, for humans, is a human being from conception to the seventh week of life; a fetus is a human being from the eighth week of life until birth.

If someone says, “It’s just an embryo. It’s just a fetus,” “Well, what is an embryo? What is a fetus?” “It’s just a clump of cells.” “Well, you’re a clump of cells. Why does that matter? Which clump of cells matter? The ones that are developing members of our species are the ones that matter, and so shouldn’t we treat all of them equally?”

Cy: Right. Okay, so you establish scientifically that this is a member of our species. But philosophically, you said-

Trent: Well, we have to show there are differences. People will say, “Fine, even if it’s a member of our species,” and that was in my conversation with Shannon Q, “they might be different than you or I.” People will pick… They’ll do what they’ve always done throughout history when human beings have been dehumanized or depersonalized. They’ll find a difference. Throughout history it’s been “Yeah, they’re biological humans, but they’re the wrong skin color, they’re the wrong religion, they’re the wrong ethnicity, they’re the wrong functional level. They don’t have a high-enough IQ. They’re not truly human.”

We have to show, yeah, there are differences between us and the unborn, but those differences don’t justify killing the unborn. Steven Schwartz is a philosopher who summarizes this in an acronym called SLED. It goes like this. S is for size. The unborn are very small, sometimes the size of a grain of rice maybe, but does that mean they’re not a person? There are born people who are very small.

When I go to high schools, it’s kind of funny. I’ll ask the students, “What are some examples of small humans that are equally valuable with us?” People raise their hands, “Midgets.” I’m like, “Actually, the term is little people, but yes, people who have dwarfism or things… The little people community.” I think maybe one time I got jockeys.

Cy: Jockeys are people, yes. That’s a-

Trent: Jockeys are still-

Cy: I’m going to get a bumper sticker that says that, jockeys are people.

Trent: Jockeys have a higher instrumental value when it comes to horse racing because they don’t weigh down the horse, but they have the same intrinsic value to you or I, much the same that an NBA player has more instrumental value because he is taller, in regards to playing basketball, yet he has the same intrinsic value as a human being to you or I.

The example that I would use was probably newborn infants, premature babies especially. They’re tiny, but they’re fully human.

Cy: Yeah. Right. Nobody goes to the preemie ward and goes, “Not human yet.”

Trent: Or only 5% human.

Cy: Yeah. Right. Okay. All right, so-

Trent: That’s S.

Cy: S. Yes.

Trent: L would be level of development. People will say, “Well…”

Cy: Doesn’t look like us.

Trent: Doesn’t look like us or doesn’t think or feel like us. Now, looking like us is an interesting one. It cuts both ways, because I could say there are things that look like us that aren’t human, like mannequins or robots or CGI images. They can look very human, but they’re not human beings.

Cy: Or some primates. They can kind of freak you out. Their facial expressions and stuff, they look like it.

Trent: Well, I do take my kids to the zoo it feels like every three or four days, and it’s uncanny sometimes. But you’re right. However, then if you look at some human beings, there have been some human beings who have been disfigured in accidents or suffer from diseases, where they may not be as recognizable, but they’re still human. It’s like that story of the Elephant Man that’s from that-

Cy: Oh, yeah. Right. What’s his name? I know John Hurt played the part, but I can’t remember the man’s name who was the… But yeah, very much-

Trent: You can Google it for me, I’m sure.

Cy: Okay, sure. I’ll Googlize it.

Trent: But yeah, the story of the Elephant Man was that he was born with these… He had this skin condition that caused him to have large gray tumors all around his body.

Cy: Joseph Merrick.

Trent: Joseph Merrick. That’s it. He had a disfigured skeleton. Merrick, one day, his… He would wear a mask to hide his face, and it fell off. And people chased him down an alley. They thought an animal had gotten loose from the zoo, and he said, “I’m not an animal. I’m a human being.”

Cy: Oh, yeah. That was the famous line from-

Trent: From the film-

Cy: … the movie. Yeah.

Trent: … The Elephant Man. Yeah. But the unborn unfortunately can’t do that. We have to say that.

Human beings come in all different kinds of shapes and sizes. Now, well, people say, “Fine. It’s not looks. It’s thinking or feeling. That’s what makes you a person.” There’s two problems with this argument, though. Either you set the bar too high or too low, because if you say, “Okay, you can feel any amount of pain, you’re a person. If that’s what makes you a person, then rats and pigeons are persons.”

I pick animals that feel pain that people are not sympathetic towards, because some people… I’ll say, “So under that view, is a dog or a cat a person.” “Yes, I love dogs. I love cats.” I’m like, “All right, this is…”

Cy: That’s a good point. Right.

Trent: They’re like, “Animals are better than people.” I’m like, “No, animals are just better than crummy people, not better than… They’re not better than people.” So I pick the most unsympathetic animals I can think of, rats and pigeons. Pigeons are just flying rats.

So you want to pick an animal that is unsympathetic, say, “Okay, if feeling pain is what makes you a person, what about these other animals? If you can fumigate a barn full of rats… Well, if feeling pain is what makes you a person, then fumigating a barn full of rats would be murder in the same way as fumigating a home full of squatters would be murder.”

What happens here is then people usually pivot and they say, “Oh, well, no, because rats aren’t human.” I’m like, “Okay, but the fetus and embryo are human too.” You’ve picked a trait the unborn do not have as being a valuable one, but you don’t recognize it as conferring value in other cases. It seems like you’ve just picked it in order to disqualify the unborn. It’s an inconsistent and ultimately incoherent view.

They say, “Well, fine. Rats aren’t persons because persons can have rational abilities like you or me, maybe great apes for some people.” Okay, now instead of the bar being too low, it’s too high, because now people who are disabled, every single newborn infant could not be a person under that view.

There are philosophers like Michael Tooley and Peter Singer who say abortion is justified. In fact, Singer puts it this way. He says, “Pro-lifers are right about one thing. There’s no morally relevant difference between a late-term fetus and a premature newborn child. Where they are wrong is that they say we ought to treat the fetus like the child, whereas I say we should treat the child like the fetus.”

Cy: Yeah. What a lovely person. So he’d just kill them all, basically.

Trent: It’s consistent. I’ll give you that. It’s difficult to refute because of its consistency. He just says, “Fine. Consciousness is what makes you a person. Newborns aren’t people.” Most regular people, though, will not buy that a newborn baby is not a person. They just won’t buy that. It’s just patently obvious to them.

Cy: Right. You need an advanced degree to think that badly.

Trent: Yeah. Some of the worst ideas in the world are embraced by some of the smartest people, and those people are philosophers. But philosophy is a good field. It can just lead you into all kinds of errors sometimes.

I think here with L, level of development, we show human beings vary in their level of development.

Cy: Right, and their value doesn’t change-

Trent: Doesn’t change.

Cy: … based on the level of development.

Trent: Whether you don’t have it at the beginning of life or you begin to lose it at the end of life, too, you’re still valuable.

Cy: Hitting a little close to home here. All right, move on.

Trent: Oh, all right, we’ll go on and move on with that. Cy, you’ve been telling me to move on now for about like five times. Do you not remember?

Cy: Oh, no. I totally forgot that I had done that.

Trent: Yeah. We were moving on, don’t worry. No.

The E in SLED, the E and D, E would be environment. People say, “Fine, it’s not born yet. It’s not in the world.” “Okay, why does that matter? It’s on planet Earth. Why does where you are change what you are? How would that change your value?”

“Well, because it’s totally dependent on the mother’s body.” That’s D, degree of dependency. Once again, I would say, “Okay, why does that matter? Why is the child not a person just because he depends on one other person to keep him alive?”

Somebody once called the radio show and said, “I think the fetus isn’t a person because it’s not viable.” I said, “Because it can’t live outside the womb?” And this lady said, “Yeah.” I said, “Okay, so you’re saying that we aren’t people when we are at our maximum level of helplessness?” And she said, “Well, it sounds bad when you describe it that way.”

Cy: Yeah, it does sound bad.

Trent: I said, “But that’s essentially your view, that dependent people are less of a person.” But that doesn’t make sense. I mean, child abuse is worse than assaulting or abusing an adult, a fully functional, healthy adult. They’re both bad, but we instinctively know child abuse is worse precisely because children are so helpless. If that’s the case, the more helpless you are means you deserve more care and concern, then the unborn should have the maximum level of our care and concern because of that.

Another example my friend David Lee came up with is this. Imagine you went swimming at the community swimming pool and you leave, and you’re the only one around, or so you think, and you turn around and see a two-year-old fall in the swimming pool. Right now, he is dependent on you to live. Does that mean he stopped being a person? No. It just means-

Cy: No, dependency doesn’t. Right. Yeah.

Trent: Yeah. Dependency just shows the relations we have to one another, not whether we ourselves are persons. Size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency, when you put that together, the unborn differ from us, but we have to ask, why does that difference matter? Why does it justify treating them in an inhumane way?

Cy: You go through them one at a time to say none of those is actually disqualifying you from the human race.

Trent: Right. In a conversation, for many people, it’ll be one or two of them, not necessarily all four, or people will jump. You should always say… People will maybe bring up one, and when you show it’s not a good criteria, they’ll jump to another, but you want them to admit that initial criteria was bad. It doesn’t work, really. You have to ask them, “Why does that matter? Why does that confer value?”

Cy: Now, before we end, then, I want to ask you about ending these conversations, because you’re having this conversation with the person, it seems to me very unlikely, except in an especially graced moment, that a person is going to go, “You know what, Trent, you’re right. I’m going to be pro-life now,” so generally these conversations will end ambiguously. How do you end them? Do you say, “Here’s my phone number. You can call me if you have another question” or “Here’s a resource you might think about”? What’s your general strategy? Because if your idea is “By the end of this conversation, I’ve got to make you pro-life,” you’re going to have a terrible conversation every time.

Trent: You can’t do that. You can’t control whether someone converts on these issues. We need the promptings of the Holy Spirit to do that. But you can plant a seed. Your goal should just be “I want to give this person something to think about, and I want to communicate to them in a way that is affable, is gracious, so that they voluntarily want to keep talking to me about this.”

Sometimes you have to see that the person is struggling or they’re uncomfortable, and you can say, “It’s just something for you to think about. And hey, if you ever want to ask me again about it, I’m happy to talk to you about it” or “Here’s a book on it” or something like that, or “Here’s a debate I saw on YouTube,” or a video series you can share with them. There’s lots of great people who are… We have videos of that on our Catholic Answers YouTube page. Live Action has some wonderful videos. Pro-lifers have a lot of great resources to share.

But you want to just get them to the point where they’re uncomfortable with their worldview, but you’re not putting their feet to the fire, because they want you to be… You want them to see you as someone that they really want to go to to keep having a good conversation with and to seek after the truth.

Cy: Very good. All right. Trent Horn, thank you very much for a little bit of boot camp here on how to be pro-life.

Trent: Happy to do so, Cy, and I would recommend my book Persuasive Pro-Life for you people who want to go deeper into this subject.

Cy: You can get Persuasive Pro-Life pretty much wherever pro-life materials are sold, and one of those is our website, shop.catholic.com. Again, Trent Horn is an apologist here at Catholic Answers, a writer and speaker. If you’d like him to come and speak wherever you are, you can always contact us here at Catholic Answers. I’m Cy Kellett, your host, and I’ll just ask you this before we go. If you get us on Apple, if you subscribe there, would you give us a comment or a like or a share? All these things help to grow the podcast, and we really do want to grow this podcast. We’ll see you next time, God willing, on Catholic Answers Focus.

Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission! Donate