Sean McDowell | September 17, 2019

Yes, I Am Pro-Choice (But Let Me Explain)

I am pro-choice. That is, I believe unborn human persons should have the right to choose before their lives are snuffed out.

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, that’s not what is meant by pro-choice.” And to a degree you would be right. If by “pro-choice” we mean the political position favoring abortion, then I am decidedly not pro-choice. I am unquestionably pro-life. The evidence is compelling: A human being, who is distinct from the mother, emerges at conception.

Defining "Pro-choice"

In this blog, I am using “pro-choice” in a slightly different fashion. In fact, I am using it the way we ordinarily use it on other areas of life. By “pro-choice,” I mean that I favor allowing human beings to make critical choices relevant to their lives.

Simply put, people should have the freedom to make significant decisions for themselves including where they live, their career choice, hobbies, relationships, and so on except when it involves taking the life of another human being. And that’s my problem with abortion––it involves ending the life of a valuable unborn human being and that person’s right to make choices for him or herself.

Abortion Supporters and "Choice"

Even abortion supporters recognize this underlying logic. After all, they would be in favor of allowing anyone over sixteen to drive, if they choose to and qualify, but that does not mean people can drive however they want. Our driving freedom is limited when it infringes upon the safety–and even potentially the life–of another driver. Our choices are bound by their effects on other people. That is the only way we can function as a society.

Ironically, what this means is that the pro-life position is much more consistently pro-choice and inclusive of all human beings than the pro-choice position. Let me explain.

Being Consistently Pro-choice

As just mentioned, we ordinarily recognize that choice is limited when the right to life of another is infringed. Both pro-choicers and pro-lifers recognize this in other areas of life. But a key difference, that cannot be missed, is that pro-lifers consistently apply this to unborn human persons.

Pro-lifers do not selectively choose a segment of society (namely the unborn) and deny them the same freedom of choice that others have. Rather, pro-lifers are in favor of all human beings having the right to life and choice regardless of age, race, sex, socioeconomic status, or any other secondary characteristic. Thus, the pro-life position not only more consistently applies choice to all areas of life, but it is also much more inclusive.

What about the Mom's Choice?

You might say, “But the unborn baby cannot make a choice and yet the mom can, so shouldn’t we favor the choice of the mom over the baby?” But with that logic, what about a person in a coma? Can we end their life because their capacity to choose is currently limited? Of course not. Unborn human persons are the kind of beings that have the capacity to choose when it is not prematurely taken from them.

So, yes, I am pro-choice, if we use “choice” in the abortion debate the way we use it elsewhere.

But sadly, we don’t.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell, TikTok, Instagram, and his blog: