For years there have been many intellectual and articulate discussions concerning the pro-abortion and pro-life views, either in print, live debate, or just everyday interactions.
In an article, Abortion and the Conception of Life, Las Cruces Sun-News, 1-3-09, Michael Hays states the following:
The strict anti-abortionist definition of life is a tendentious one -- merely one, with limitations, among many. First, it applies to the fertilization of humans only, not other animals -- not a negligible consideration, but still a biased, that is, a homocentric one. Across the spectrum of organic life forms, fertilization is a relatively rare means of procreation (and I exclude parthenogenesis). At the extreme, single-celled organisms reproduce by various, non-sexual means. For instance, amoebas, by mitosis, simply enlarge and split.
Second, the definition of life -- specifically, human life -- reflects different contexts in which it is used. Scientists define the word "life" differently in different contexts; their definitions are themselves stipulated and thereby subject to debate within scientific communities. Some textbooks define life as beginning at fertilization; others, at viability. One irony in the abortion debate is that anti-abortionists assert their moral or religious position by insisting on a scientific definition of life, one itself presupposing a moral or religious, not a scientific, position -- thus, begging the question.
The Canadian Centre For Bio-Ethical Reform (cbrinfo.org) states: Scientists agree that life begins at conception, also referred to as fertilization. Drs. Keith Moore and T. Persaud's embryology textbook used by medical students at the University of British Columbia confirms this:
Human development begins at fertilization [emphasis in original], the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell, the zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell is the beginning of embryonic development. The zygote, just visible to the unaided eye as a tiny speck, contains chromosomes and genes (units of genetic information) that are derived from the mother and father. The unicellular organism, or zygote, divides many times and becomes progressively transformed into a multicellular human being through cell division, migration, growth, and differentiation.
Keith Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects 5th ed. (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998) 36.
After reading or listening to these and other intellectual views, I sometimes find myself asking, "What did I just read or hear?" Unless I get out the dictionary or other sources and do research, I probably won't figure it out. Of course, this type of discussion is a good way to spread the word, but who is the target audience? It's basically other people who are at their same intellectual level. Who are most involved with the abortion decision? Teen girls and boys and young college-aged women and men. Honestly, they probably would have little idea what these people were saying. I would guess that your average 16-year-old does not know what "parthenogenesis" or even "viability" means.
That is why "the simpler, the better" approach often works the best. When the expectant mother sees the baby on the ultrasound, it can make a huge difference. When she see photos or videos of aborted babies, it can have a bigger impact than two articulate people discussing the issue.
Studies have shown that 60 percent to 80 percent of women changed their minds about having an abortion after seeing the ultrasound. One of these studies was from Dr. Eric J. Keroack, a medical director of five centers run by A Woman's Concern in Massachusetts. He studied the cases of 436 women considering abortion between October 2000 and April 2002 at a center in Revere, Massachusetts, and whose outcomes could be traced. Of those who were considered to be facing obstacles that were usually considered reasons for abortion, 75.5 percent decided not to have an abortion after viewing the ultrasound of her unborn baby, while 24.5 percent went ahead with an abortion.
Keroack compared those figures to a similar study group from July 1998 to December 1999, before the center had an ultrasound machine. The statistics were nearly reversed. Of the 344 "abortion-vulnerable" women whose cases were studied and whose outcomes could be determined, 61 percent decided after counseling at the Revere center to go ahead with an abortion, while 33.7 percent decided not to have an abortion. Source: http://www.the-tidings.com/2008/080108/ultrasound.htm
Showing abortion videos and pictures have had a similar effect on people. Videos such as Harder Truth and Silent Scream have resulted in thousands of changed minds about abortion. For testimonials go to the following site: http://www.abortionno.org/AbortionNO/web_response.html
In the movie Juno, the lead character Juno McGuff was heading into a women's clinic to have an abortion. She encountered a fellow student, Su-Chin, who was in front of the clinic holding a pro-life sign. One of the things Su-Chin told her was that her baby has fingernails. Juno kept thinking about that while waiting in the clinic and decided not to abort. Of course, this is fictitious, but it does give a powerful example of how the simple approach works.
Many sidewalk counselors will confirm the fact that sometimes it's just one word, phrase, or Bible verse that will change the girl's mind. Sometimes the simpler factual approach to the issue is the better way. There's a place for a highly articulate, intellectual discussion, but it probably doesn't reach the audience that really needs to be targeted.