A Case Study of Pro-life Education and a Practical Model for Persuasive Outcomes

Last fall, most people anticipated a strong pro-life turn-out for a constitutional amendment in Kansas, a state that President Trump carried 56–41 in the 2020 presidential election. However, the amendment was rejected 59–41. If any thought the overturning of Roe v. Wade would establish justice for the unborn, this shellacking exposed that the groundwork was lacking. Even in this conservative state, we have not yet persuaded enough hearts and minds to value the lives of both pregnant women and preborn babies. Three months later, Kentucky voters’ rejection of a similar amendment showed that the problem extends beyond Kansas.

This paper will offer a model for pro-life education in churches and schools that integrates the training and outreach efforts by pro-life parachurch ministries such as Justice For All, Life Training Institute, and Equal Rights Institute. Setting our instruction about abortion in the context of conversations with pro-choice people will lead to more transformative and enduring student outcomes and greater likelihood of reaching the proper goal: saving the lives of preborn babies by persuading the abortion-minded that life in the womb should be protected.

Synthesizing surveys and interviews of pastors and professors regarding the objectives, content, frequency, and outcomes of abortion-related instruction within their organizations, the paper will assess current weaknesses and best practices. Abortion is often treated as a moral issue for disapproval, perhaps for voting. It is not often treated as a justice issue to motivate rescue. Many students finish without knowing how to steer a conversation with a pro-choice opponent. With so many remaining unpersuaded, just laws continue to be voted down, and abortion numbers continue to show that we have much work to do.

Education must be more than information transfer; it should include the development of skills to be deployed in ministry. The Great Commission requires more than teaching about the Lord’s commands; it requires teaching how to obey them. With regard to abortion, students need to know more than why it is wrong; they need to learn how to seek justice for preborn babies by engaging in healthy conversations that can change hearts.

One objective is for students to possess an informed pro-life conviction. A greater objective is for them to be equipped and engaged as pro-life apologists. This objective should then drive changes to our content and process. The educational program of Justice For All, for example, is geared entirely toward modeling real conversations with pro-choice people out in the field. This case study charts a course for churches and schools at all levels to thicken their theological anthropology—as well as ethics, apologetics, and evangelism—by adding this practicality to their pro-life discipleship.

4 thoughts on “A Case Study of Pro-life Education and a Practical Model for Persuasive Outcomes”

  1. Comment on “A Case Study…”
    Finding creative and effective ways of educating laypersons and pastors/clergy about abortion and other bioethical issues is crucially important as we move forward into the “brave new world” of 21st century biomedical technology. Though not explicitly focused on issues of theological anthropology, this proposal addresses an important area of work that desperately needs to be advanced in the context of the Church and therefore is of relevance to the conference generally and the bioethics section specifically.

    As a side note, I’m intrigued by the reference to churches and schools “thicken[ing] their theological anthropology” and would love to see further reflection on what this might mean and look like.

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  2. I didn’t vote because the student asked me to review it.
    I abstained from voting because the student asked me to review the submission beforehand. I cautioned the student that he may be attempting too much for a 30 minute presentation, but the topic does seem interesting and relevant for our section. I happily submit to the committee’s opinion.

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