John Fuller: Welcome to another special edition of Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and our guest today is Scott Klusendorf. He’s back making a persuasive argument on behalf of pre-born babies that every life is valuable.
Mr. Scott Klusendorf: Then I say, “Can I repeat back what you just said to me? You personally oppose abortion because you say it kills a baby, but you think it should be legal to kill babies.” And there’s usually dead silence for several seconds while that sinks in.
End of Excerpt
John: Well, we have a really powerful conversation for you with Scott as we return to an event recorded in Chicago, Illinois last year with a live audience.
Jim Daly: John, we saw a lot of support for pre-born babies and their moms and dads in Chicago that night. It was really encouraging to see the audience galvanize around the pro-life message. Uh, Focus is committed to protecting and uplifting pre-borns and their families. That’s part of our mission every day through Option Ultrasound which provides training and ultrasound equipment for pregnancy clinics around the country. To date, 459,000 babies have been saved through those efforts and we’d like to see a million or more babies saved. And we’re building for that through an event this fall. On September 26th we’re having a big online event called See Life 2020 with great speakers and music and a live 4D ultrasound.
John: It’s going to be a wonderful event and it’s online. You can find details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And Scott Klusendorf is the founder and president of Life Training Institute. He wrote the book, The Case for Life. He calls himself a pro-life apologist and he’s trained thousands of people to engage in compelling conversations on behalf of pre-born babies. And by the way, I should note, if you have young children around, um, you may want to consider having them elsewhere as we’re going to talk about some sensitive issues today. Last time, we ended with Scott talking about the great work that pregnancy resource centers are doing in contrast to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. And in case you missed it, we’re going to roll back to hear a story from Scott as we begin today.
Scott: I did a banquet at a pregnancy center last night in Madison, Wisconsin. The top floor of the pregnancy center is a live-in apartment where they house up to 24 mothers with children. The middle floor of the center is a medical clinic where they treat STDs, they provide prenatal care – all of it. The bottom level is this gargantuan boutique, where they supply the pregnant woman with everything she might need to get through that pregnancy. Don’t tell me we don’t care, when pregnancy centers outnumber abortion clinics something like 3 to 1 in this country. Yes, we do care, and we are demonstrating it.
Jim: And not only that, but Planned Parenthood is taking our tax money, 500 million…
Jim: …A year. And these clinics are forbidden from getting government money…
Jim: …Because of the faith component.
Scott: …That’s correct. You know who’s funding pregnancy centers? Our audience here tonight…
Jim: (Laughter) That’s it. Right.
Scott: …And a whole lot of other Americans.
Jim: Which should make a huge statement.
Scott: That’s right.
Scott: That’s right.
Jim: No. That’s so good.
John: Scott, I wonder if we can go back to something you said, um, because I think a casual listener might have been a little thrown off. You said Planned Parenthood offers a 15-minute solution.
John: The truth is, it’s not a solution. It – it takes a lot more of a woman’s life than 15 minutes.
Scott: Well, what they’re offering is an apparent solution.
Scott: They are offering – the deception here is, they are selling her an – an apparent fix in 15 minutes, and we’re offering her the choice to walk 18 years through a lot of struggle. And it’s – it’s a lie. You’re correct, because abortion doesn’t just happen and then go away 15 minutes later. There is a price tag with that abortion.
Jim: You know, Scott, I’m mindful of the audience both here live and the – the radio audience and the podcast audience that’ll be listening to this. And there are women who have made that decision.
Jim: Mm hmm.
Jim: There are men that played a role…
Jim: …As well, obviously, because we tend to always point out this was a woman’s decision.
Jim: But men often are the ones forcing their girlfriend or their wife…
Jim: …To get that abortion. So, I want to make sure we make that statement. And, certainly, if someone’s in that spot and you maybe have not grieved that decision, we’re here for you.
Jim: We have caring Christian counselors at Focus on the Family. Call us. I mean, what I’m upset about is the lie.
Jim: I’m not upset at the woman…
Jim: …Or the – the man. But I want them to be informed. I also want them to find forgiveness in Christ…
Jim: …As a Christian. I mean…
Scott: That’s right.
Jim: We’re all sinners saved by grace.
Jim: That may not have happened in our story, but there are other things that have happened in our story, right?
Scott: Absolutely. And you just hit on the key foundational fix for someone who’s had an abortion. It is the Gospel. And the Gospel says, every one of us in this room has rebelled against our Maker, but God sent a Substitute to stand in our place, condemned, bearing the judgment we deserved so we could be adopted as dearly loved children into God’s family. And that’s the message of hope for post-abortion, men and women.
Jim: Yeah. Let me take you back a little bit to equip the listeners in some of these arguments that they’re going to encounter. So, the blob-of-tissue argument – that’s the common one. Come at me. Help me in the dialogue. So, if I were a pro-abortion person and I’m arguing with you, “There’s no consciousness there. This is – you know, this is a handful of cells, Scott.”
Jim: “It is that dot on the paper, seriously.”
Jim: “Come on.”
Jim: “And look at all the pain that that woman is going to encounter. She’s got – she’s not even married.”
Jim: “She’s 17. I mean, this is going to put her through horrible, heart-wrenching issues. And to be that pregnant woman on campus, that girl on campus, think of the shame she’s going to feel.”
Jim: “I mean, this is wrong. It’s so much easier just to take her to the clinic.”
Jim: I’m probably giving you have five things to deal with there.
Scott: Right. Right.
Jim: But go for it.
Scott: Well, let’s take the first one. You brought up self-awareness or consciousness. The first thing we should do as pro-lifers is very graciously say, “Tell me why I have to be conscious or self-aware not to be killed. Why is self-awareness decisive and not, say, having a belly button that points out rather than in?” Make them argue for that. Make them tell you why. If I claim, Jim, that there’s a pink elephant dancing above your head right now – half the audience just looked…
Scott: …I don’t – I bear the burden of proof, not you. I made the claim. So, make them defend that claim. Secondly, point out that it erodes human equality. If self-awareness is what gives me my value and not my human nature, then those with more self-awareness have a greater right to life than those with less, and you can toss human equality on the ash heap of history. But it also disqualifies newborns. Newborns are not self-aware until several weeks after birth. This is why Peter Singer says, “If we’re going to be consistent, we’ve got to say that if abortion is justified because the fetus is not self-aware, so is infanticide. You can kill both.” Now, his conclusion is horrific, but his logic is consistent. And then, finally, I would point out to this person that think of all the things that follow from defining somebody out of existence because they’re not self-aware. What if we altered the brain of a developing embryo so it never was self-aware and then killed the child at age 5 to use his body parts for medical experiments? Most people would find that horrific. But if it’s your self-awareness that gives you value and not our common humanity, why not do that? So, these are some things you can point out when people bring up things like self-awareness.
Jim: Yeah. Some in the public space – and I won’t name names, but you can fill in the blank – have said, “Well, I think a baby’s life starts with breath.”
Jim: “…Not with heartbeat, not with a conscience, not with the…”
Scott: Oh, yeah.
Jim: “…Brain activity.”
Scott: And they often cite the Bible to justify that.
Jim: Right. So, really, it’s breath. It’s not those other things that are intrinsically human. It doesn’t matter until the breath. And some will even apply that to Scripture, right…
Jim: …That this is God-breathed.
Jim: And until a baby takes its breath, it’s not really human.
Scott: Well, here’s my answer to that. Every human being that God creates directly out of mud is not a living soul until God breathes into their lungs. I agree. Now, were you created directly out of mud?
Scott: If not, then that means there’s another way you came into being. God has more ways of doing that than just what He did in Genesis 1. And we know from the science of embryology, you came to be at the moment of fertilization.
Jim: Another cultural irony is the fact that abortion tends to hurt minority children and female babies.
Jim: I mean – gender selection. If you look at the beginning of Planned Parenthood – and they run from this now – but Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist. She…
Jim: …She believed that – that minority children should be eliminated because they would put too much pressure on welfare systems. Is that not true?
Scott: That is true.
Jim: They get away from that now.
Scott: They do. And I’m actually going to say something here that might surprise a few people. It’s okay to bring that point up, but it’s our second argument, not our first argument.
Jim: And why?
Scott: Abortion is not wrong because of how Planned Parenthood got started.
Jim: Oh, absolutely.
Scott: It’s not wrong because of Margaret Sanger being a eugenicist, though she was.
Scott: Abortion is wrong because it intentionally kills an innocent human being. And we always want to begin our case by keeping the main thing…
Scott: …The main thing. But you are absolutely correct. After you’ve made that case, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Have you considered the implications of your worldview? It allows for treating minorities as property. In fact, that’s the history of Planned Parenthood.” So, we can do that. But we just want to do it in the right order.
Jim: No, I appreciate that. That’s a good point. Also, when it comes to the – the female baby.
Scott: Mm hmm.
Jim: I mean, when they talk about a woman’s right.
Jim: What about that conflict?
Scott: Yeah. Well, it – the reason why there’s no conflict in their mind – they assume the unborn are not human. It would be like me saying to you, Jim, “Uh, have you quit cheating on your taxes yet?” And you say to me, “Wait a minute. I don’t cheat on my taxes.” “Well, that’s not what I asked you. Have you stopped?” Well, that would be an unfair question, because I’m assuming what I’m trying to prove. When they make these kinds of arguments based on choice, privacy, trusting women, don’t force your morality on me – they’d never make those arguments if we were talking about killing 2-year-olds. They only make them when we talk about the unborn. Why? Because they assume the unborn are not human. And you know what our job is as pro-life apologists? To flush that assumption out in the open and say something very gentle like, “Can I make an observation? I noticed you’re assuming something about the unborn you would never assume about the 2-year-old.” And bring it back to the question – what is the unborn? And start there with the discussion.
Jim: No, that’s good. Let me ask you this, too. If a woman says, “I personally” – or not just a woman – anybody.
Jim: Politicians do this all the time. “I’m personally…”
Jim: “…Opposed to abortion…”
Jim: “…But I don’t want to, you know, get in the way of a woman’s right to choose.”
Scott: Well, imagine me…
Jim: That sounds very eloquent.
Scott: It does. Imagine me saying, “I personally oppose spousal abuse, but you can do with your spouse whatever you want in the privacy of the bedroom, and the law should not interfere.” Or “I personally oppose owning a slave, but if you want one, the law shouldn’t tell you you can’t.”
Jim: I mean, it’s ridiculous.
Scott: We would find that insane. So, when people say to me, “I personally oppose abortion, but I want it to remain legal,” the first question out of my mouth is, why do you personally oppose it?
Scott: And inevitably, they say, “Well, it’s killing a – a baby.” I mean, why else would you oppose it, right? I mean, nobody opposes pulling a tooth. Then I say, “Can I repeat back what you just said to me? You personally oppose abortion because you say it kills a baby, but you think it should be legal to kill babies.” And there’s usually dead silence for several seconds while that sinks in.
Jim: Yeah. There’s no way out. It’s a dead end logically.
Scott: Yeah. Yeah.
Jim: That’s what’s so good. It makes them think.
Scott: It makes them think.
Jim: You know, Jesus often did that. He asked questions that made people think.
Scott: Right. Yeah. And that’s what we all need to do. Learning to ask good questions will get you out of the hot seat. When somebody drills you with something and says, “How can you say that a fetus has a – a right to life when it’s not even self-aware? How can you say that fetus should have rights when it doesn’t have consciousness?” – simply smile and say, “Why does consciousness matter in the first place?” And ask a good question. You don’t need to get defensive.
Jim: Scott, let me ask you, why do – why do you say the pro-life view is no more religious than the pro-abortion view? Those in the faith community go “What?”
Scott: Yeah. Yeah. Well, first of all, arguments are true or false, valid or invalid. Calling an argument religious is an attempt to dodge your responsibility to answer it by calling it a name. But that won’t work. You’ve got to answer the pro-life argument. You can’t just dismiss it with a label. The other reason why it’s no more religious – both sides in the abortion debate are answering the same fundamental question. Who counts as one of us? The pro-choice or pro-abortion worldview says, “you don’t count until you can function at a certain level, when you have self-awareness or viability, or the ability to feel pain.” The pro-life worldview says, “No, you count as soon as you began to exist; you have a natural right to life.” Notice that both positions are answering a fundamentally religious question. Who counts as one of us? If the pro-life view is disqualified for its alleged appeal to religion, so is the pro-abortion view, because we’re both haggling over that same question. Who counts as one of us? Let’s answer that question and not try to kick one side out by calling them a name.
Jim: That’s good. I appreciate that. Um, a 1963 Planned Parenthood brochure acknowledged that pre-born babies are human. I’ve never heard this.
Scott: Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah.
Jim: This is the first time I saw this. The – the women involved in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton – those two cases led to legalized abortion, obviously. They became outspoken for the pro-life cause. Do you think abortion proponents know deep inside that we’re talking about human lives?
Scott: It’s hard to argue they don’t. But, boy, they sure work hard suppressing it. You brought up that Planned Parenthood brochure…
Jim: Yeah, that’s amazing.
Scott: …From 1963. And the wording on that says this. “Abortion will kill the life of your baby after it’s begun and is dangerous to your life and health.” That’s the exact wording of that – that brochure from 1963.
Jim: And it’s 1963.
Scott: I’ve actually got a copy of it at home that a friend of mine secured for me.
Jim: That’s right around the time I was born.
Scott: Right. Right. And not long after that, a journal article in California Medicine said, “The only way we’re ever going to get abortion to move forward in our culture as a permissible activity is to dehumanize the unborn with rhetoric that everybody knows is a lie, but if we repeat it enough, they’ll eventually come along.”
Jim: I always thought it was odd. I was on the train at Denver Airport. You know, they have the little…
Jim: …Shuttle train. And there was – there were women on board coming from a Planned Parenthood convention, I believe, because they had T-shirts…
Jim: …And things like that. And this one woman had a badge, but her T-shirt – she obviously was pregnant. And her T-shirt said, “It’s a baby.” And I thought, “Isn’t this odd?”
Scott: Mm hmm.
Jim: This woman coming from a Planned Parenthood conference… (chuckling)
Jim: …Is – has one of those T-shirts – “It’s a baby.”
Scott: But Jim…
Jim: What an amazing contradiction.
Scott: It is. But Jim, to millions of our fellow citizens, a child in the womb has rights if and only if his mother wants him.
Scott: The homeless are unwanted. Can we kill them? I mean, what a flimsy defense, but millions of our fellow citizens have bought this, which means you and I have to know how to step up and engage. And that means everybody listening to us right now – nobody is exempt from this.
Scott: We are all pro-life apologists now.
Jim: Scott, I have tried to reach out to communicate with those in the abortion industry. And to their credit, I have met with a handful of people. One woman really impressed me. She came ready to debate, ready to argue. And I remember I had the data – 347,000 abortions by Planned Parenthood the previous year. Guttmacher Institute keeps that data.
Scott: Mm hmm. Yeah.
Jim: But they had only placed 917 children for adoption.
Jim: So, I just said to her, “Why? What’s happening?” And she looked at me. And this was a very honest statement. She said, “It’s the money.” This is a woman with Planned Parenthood. And I said, “I appreciate that honesty.”
Jim: “So, why can’t we incentivize you somehow to do more adoption placement?” And she said, “Because we make zero today on adoption placement at Planned Parenthood.”
Jim: I mean, isn’t that amazing?
Scott: Her candor is…
Jim: What if they were paid twice as much – $1,200 for an adoption placement? Could it literally change the equation, because it’s all about cash for them…
Scott: Yeah. Yeah.
Scott: Yeah, you…
Jim: Would they be able to do that?
Scott: Boy, I don’t know. But I want to point out something you said a moment ago that I think all of our listeners need to hear. You went out of your way to try to make friends with people on the other side of the issue. And for some listening to us today, they might think that’s very odd. I am very good friends with Nadine Strossen, the former president of the ACLU. We – we debate at secular universities all the time, and yet we’re friends. We’ll have dinner before the event. And she is a friend. She’s wrong, but she’s a friend.
Jim: Well, that’s so true.
Scott: That’s right. And here’s the thing that keeps me grounded from getting angry. Nadine is no more lost in her sins than I was in mine before God found me.
Jim: That’s true.
Scott: And so, I engage. Although my customer in a debate is the audience more than Nadine, she does me a favor. She draws a crowd. And I get to talk to them.
Scott: You got to meet a friend and give her something to think about. You put that pebble in her shoe. And that’s what we need to do as Christians.
Jim: Well, and I so appreciate that. But that should be the common standard of the Christian.
Scott: Mm hmm.
Jim: You’re right. There was another woman I met with. And she came into my office shaking. She was visibly shaking. And I said, “Are you okay?” She said, “Well, my friends said you’re going to put a voodoo hex on me.” And I laughed.
Jim: And she didn’t laugh. And I said, “What – what do you know about Christianity?” And she said, “All that I know is you want to kill us.”
Jim: And I said, “I know no one – I seriously…”
Jim: “…Do not know a single person who wants to harm you.”
Jim: And I said, “Has anybody ever talked to you about who Jesus is and what are the claims of the church?” And she said, “No.” And I said, “Can I take a few minutes and do that?”
Jim: She said, “I would appreciate that, because no one’s ever explained it to me.”
Scott: Oh, that’s great.
Jim: Isn’t that amazing?
Scott: Isn’t that amazing?
Jim: We tend to assume. And in this particular case, it was amazing the – what God did, because there’s much more to this story. For the naysayer, this should quicken your speech at this point, because this woman left my office, went home. Her husband of 27 years left her a note saying, “I’m leaving you.” And she called Focus on the Family for help.
Scott: Isn’t that great?
Jim: This was a woman in the abortion industry.
Scott: That’s right.
Jim: And we helped her in various ways. And she sent me a note. There was one woman on our staff, Kelly Rosati. And this woman sent me a note saying, “I’ve never met a human being or seen a human being love another human being the way Kelly has loved me.”
Jim: Isn’t that awesome?
Scott: That’s awesome. And…
Jim: And I think at some point, she’s coming to Christ.
Scott: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, if I can – if I may…
Scott: …Hijack the agenda for one moment…
Jim: Do it.
Scott: There’s – there’s an important thing we need to consider here about our pastors. A lot of our pastors with good intentions are worried that if they talk about abortion, they’re going to drive people away from the Gospel, or they’ll lay a guilt trip on women or men who may have been involved with abortion. And here’s what I always say to them. I say very gently, “Pastor, if we don’t deal with this issue, we’re not going to spare people guilt. We’re going to spare them healing, because unconfessed sin has them out of full fellowship with Jesus. And the kindest thing we can do is take a difficult issue like abortion, tell the truth about it and then point people to the solution that can fix their brokenness…”
Jim: Without doubt.
Scott: “…And that being Christ.”
Jim: That’s the secret. All of us are sinners saved by grace.
Scott: Yeah, that’s it.
Jim: Scott, I want to mention this. We did something a few years ago called The Family Project, and it was a great film. But it highlighted one woman who was from the feminist movement probably in the ’60s and ’70s. And she is now older. But she said, “You know, one of the things that we were seeking in the feminist movement in the ’60s and ’70s was empowerment and equality. And what abortion gave us was abandonment.”
Jim: Wow. That was a powerful statement.
Scott: Very powerful. In fact, if you look at survey data, a major driving force for women choosing abortion is the men in their lives abandon them.
Scott: So, it happens not just at the societal level but also at the personal level.
Jim: Yeah. And I – I just think it – it detaches responsibility.
Jim: Right? So, men are freer. They thought they were getting something more – women…
Scott: Mm hmm.
Jim: …But they got less…
Scott: Oh, yeah.
Jim: …Through abortion.
Scott: Bernard Nathanson in his book, Aborting America – the former abortionist who became pro-life – says in that book that they sold their idea of abortion to feminists on grounds that it would be freedom for women, but they knew in their heart of hearts, they were winning freedom for men to behave any way they want with no responsibility. And male lawyers from the ACLU were the driving force to convince feminists that this was good for them.
Jim: Isn’t this crazy, everybody? I mean, it’s crazy. Scott, a great place to land is, what is encouraging you when you look at the landscape…
Jim: …In this abortion battle?
Scott: I’ll tell you what encourages me. The other side is trembling that they are seeing pro-lifers make very sophisticated arguments they are not prepared to defend. Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice and Kate Michelman, former head of the National Abortion Rights Action League, wrote an LA Times op-ed piece where they looked at the March for Life, saw all these students and said, “They’re so young and they’re so smart.” And Kissling said, “The pro-life movement is doing two things right now that are really causing us fits. Number one, they’re advancing arguments at a very sophisticated, intellectual level that we are not engaging. And secondly, they’re dramatizing abortion. They’re showing it for what it is. And both these things are very hurtful to our cause.” And I’m here to tell you, I am seeing a new generation of pro-life apologists emerge. They are young. They are smart. And they are ready to engage. And it is fun to watch. I’m worried they’re going to push me, the old guy, off the stage pretty soon.
Scott: And when they do, I’ll shout, “Hallelujah.”
Jim: Keep jogging.
Scott: Yeah. That’s it.
Jim: Scott, this has been awesome. Thank you so much…
Scott: Thank you, Jim.
Jim: …For the great thoughts on this very difficult subject. Thank you.
Scott: It was great to be here. Thank you.
(LAUGHTER and CHEERS)
John: What a time we had in Chicago last year. That was an event recorded with Scott Klusendorf on this episode of Focus on the Family. And I so appreciate Scott. He is not afraid to tackle the tough issues and questions about life. He is inspiring and encouraging.
Jim: Well, he is a gifted speaker, writer and guest. And he makes such a strong case to defend babies in the womb and he does it with such truth and clarity. I hope this has motivated you to help Focus save babies through Option Ultrasound. Please consider making a monthly pledge to support the effort. Every $60 saves a baby’s life. And, I’ve said it, we’ve been add it 15 years. We know the metrics on this. If you aren’t able to provide monthly support, consider a one-time donation for $60 to save that baby’s life. And, uh, you know, you may not know who that baby is until we get to heaven…
Jim: …But, uh, it all rolls up to, uh, working on behalf of the kingdom of God to preserve life.
John: And I do hope you’ll be able to join us in this effort. And for a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today, we’ll say thanks for joining the support team by sending a copy of Scott Klusendorf’s book, The Case for Life. Donate today. Save a baby’s life and get that book when you call 800-232-6459. 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Jim: And also, we want to invite you to join us for See Life 2020 this fall. September 26th we’ll have a compelling pro-life event online with dynamic Christian speakers and great music from award winning artists. And the event will culminate with a 4D ultrasound so you can clearly see life in the womb. And again, it’s September 26th for See Life 2020.
John: Join the movement and help us to educate and motivate folks to defend pre-born babies. All the details about See Life 2020 at our website. And, uh, again, while you’re there, thanks for saving a baby’s life through your gift of $60. Our site is focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Next time Dr. Kathy Koch joins us for an encouraging conversation about children and intelligence.
Dr. Kathy Koch: Kids need to know they’re smart or they’re never going to feel as good about themselves and then they lower their expectations for their tomorrows and they don’t achieve maybe as much as they could have.