No, this article isn’t saying you should hit pro-abortion activists with a sled. It’s not even saying you should ride your sled down a hill waving a pro-life banner. These things won’t change minds about abortion.
Instead, we want to introduce you to the S.L.E.D. test. It’s a simple framework you can use to challenge and change minds about abortion. And as you’ll discover, it might be the tool you need to open doors to deeper conversations about the pro-life cause and, more importantly, the Gospel. Let’s get started!
Defining the S.L.E.D.
S.L.E.D. stands for…
Level of Development
Degree of Dependence
These represent four common categories of pro-abortion arguments. When you’re talking with your friends and family about the morality of abortion, they’ll often say things like…
“Yeah, but do you really think a clump of cells is a person? How can something that small have rights?”
“You can’t be a person if you don’t feel anything. Fetuses don’t feel pain and aren’t conscious yet.”
“They’re not even out of the womb yet. Life begins at birth and not a moment before!”
“Fetuses would just die without their mothers. Don’t you have to have some level of self-preservation to be a person?”
If you’re at this point in a conversation, there’s a glimmer of hope. Most conversations about abortion devolve into campaign slogans about women’s rights and healthcare. But if someone uses these types of arguments, they’re likely not abortion ideologues or haven’t explored the topic thoroughly. As you’ll see, these are paper-thin defenses that collapse when you use a simple technique. It’s called…
Trotting Out the Toddler
S.L.E.D. doesn’t just outline four common pro-abortion arguments. It also represents the key differences between fetuses and toddlers. Arguments about the size, level of development, environment, and dependence of a fetus can also be applied to a toddler. And the results often make pro-abortion advocates realize the error in their thinking.
Suppose you’re in a conversation with a friend about abortion, and they bring up the size of the fetus.
“It’s just a clump of cells, after all,” they say. “By the end of the first trimester, a fetus is only 3 to 4 inches. You’re going to tell me that’s as valuable as a fully grown woman?”
This is the perfect time to trot out the toddler.
“Since when is size the main criterion of being a full person? How tall is your four-year-old, three feet tall? Have the few inches she’s grown in the past months changed your love for her? Absolutely not! And I’ll bet you don’t love your kids in height order. No, just because a fetus is small doesn’t mean it’s not a person any more than it does your daughter.”
That’s a tough argument to bounce back from. And a version of it can be applied to each letter of S.L.E.D.
Level of Development? You don’t treat your children differently based on when they learned to walk or read. You show them the same level of care and affection, regardless of their development levels.
Environment? It doesn’t matter where a toddler walks or sleeps—their value and rights and dignity remain the same. What difference does it make if they’re in a womb or in another room?
Dependence? Your toddler depends on you completely. You wait on them hand and foot to keep them sheltered, fed, and out of traffic. And yet it would be wrong for you to ditch them just because they need you.
At this point, the conversation can go two ways…
Either your friend will admit they need to do more research or get defensive.
Both are excellent outcomes.
The first outcome is excellent because you’ve challenged them to think deeper about the issue. You’ve also established your knowledge on the subject, making you someone whose opinion deserves respect. That means there’s an opportunity to have further conversations.
But that also means you need to prepare.
How robust is your pro-life worldview? Are you simply anti-abortion? Or have you developed a comprehensive understanding of what life really means and why it matters?
If not, we have the resource for you! The Save the Storks Start Course is an excellent—and free—starting point. It comes complete with videos and a workbook to help lay the foundation of your pro-life worldview. You can also check out our resource page. You won’t just come away with powerful arguments to change minds about abortion. You’ll be better equipped to see God’s plan for the life of the world as it’s happening in the world—and in your own heart.
The Blessing of Defensiveness
Let’s get back to the second conversation outcome—defensiveness. Counterintuitive as it might seem, that’s an excellent result. Why? Because it gives you an insight into why they’re actually pro-abortion.
Most people aren’t pro-abortion for intellectual reasons. Few have weighed the issues, considered the arguments, and reached an informed conclusion. The same is true for pro-life advocates.
That’s normal. Arguments and reason play little role in our most important opinions and decisions. Did you decide to love your child after careful reasoning and weighing the options? Absolutely not! You love your kid because they’re your kid. There are some things, often the things we hold most dear, that defy logic and explanation.
And in this broken world, people have many compelling reasons for choosing abortion instead of life. That’s not to say they have good, morally right, or Godly reasons. These are just powerful reasons that arise from loneliness, pain, abuse, and fear. And once our hearts get carried in a particular direction, it’s only a matter of time before our minds follow suit.
That grants you the opportunity to be like Christ to someone who needs it. When Jesus came to earth, he wasn’t interested in the wealthy or people who “had their act together.” Time and again, God has revealed himself to the most broken, ashamed, and lonely people on earth. That’s how God chooses to work.
This is also where educating yourself can make a huge difference in your journey to change minds about abortion. Unplanned Grace: A Compassionate Conversation on Life & Choice is an excellent resource for learning how to have empathy and grace for women facing unplanned pregnancy. Check out this free webinar with authors Brittany Smith and Natasha Smith for a crash course on how you can help!
And again, the Start Course can provide you with the foundation you need to become an effective pro-life advocate. It’s free and takes only two hours to complete.
So get to know the people in your life who get defensive when you trot out the toddler! Learn their stories. Pray for them. Be a blessing. Show mercy. Often these are the keys to change minds about abortion. The S.L.E.D. test may not be a bulletproof system that overcomes every barrier. But if you listen closely, it can reveal hearts that are hurting and need grace. And don’t worry—those are the places where God tends to show up when you least expect him!