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Speaker teaches students how to defend the pro-life message

By MICHELLE DELANEY, Globe staff reporter

It’s not every day when students are encouraged to argue. That’s exactly what Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute, asked the students at Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City to do when he spoke on Feb. 11.

Not only did he promote students arguing, he provided them with tools needed to create a solid, thought-out case. Defending the Gospel of Life in the Real World was the topic discussed in Klusendorf’s presentation.

“It’s important to speak to students on this because they’re not getting the world view training that they need. They’re being told what to believe and not why to believe it,” said Klusendorf. “It’s a disservice to them if they haven’t been taught the reasons for their faith and their moral positions. I’m here to try and give them those reasons.”

Klusendorf began his speech by discussing a lyric that caused a lot of trouble for Nick Cannon, a well-known rapper. In one of his songs, Cannon wrote about his mother’s experience as a pregnant teenager who was considering abortion. The controversial lyric was, “hopefully you’ll make the right decision and don’t go through with the knife decision.”

Cannon was criticized for stating that not having an abortion was the right decision.

Using this example, Klusendorf explained how, when students graduate from Catholic school and enter into the real world, they will have to be able to defend their pro-life views in a world that will not accept religious teachings as an answer to moral questions.

Klusendorf explained that students should know how to argue the pro-life case by using science and philosophy.

“I hope they take from this presentation a pro-life case they can argue in two minutes or less,” said Klusendorf.

“They can argue from science that the unborn are distinct living whole human beings and argue from philosophy that there is no essential difference between what we are in the womb and what we are today, that would justify killing us. If they can do that in two minutes or less, just that little bit can help make a real difference in the culture.”

Throughout his speech, he noted, in order to defend the pro-life view, people need to understand three questions: What is the unborn, what makes us valuable as human beings and what is our duty?

“If you’re clear on those three questions you can be equipped to engage friends that you meet who don’t understand the issue the way that you do,” said Klusendorf.

What is the unborn?

He began to answer this question by explaining that abortion is not a complex issue. He explained that psychologically it is complex because we feel sympathy and concern for people but at the end of the day, abortion kills a human being.

Klussendorf went on to explain that people need to define what is the unborn before they can decide if they can kill it or not. He stated that people assume the unborn are not humans.

“The science of embryology tells us that from the earliest stages of development, you were a distinct and whole human being. That’s what the science of embryonic research tells us, that’s not a religious statement, that’s what science tells us,” said Klusendorf.

Next, he discussed how people often confuse construction with development. He explained that the body didn’t build itself piece by piece from the outside. From fertilization forward, the body develops internally. “Essentially,” Klusendorf explained, “you are the same being today as you were back then.”

What makes us valuable as human beings?

After giving scientific proof that abortion is wrong, Klusendorf defended pro-life from another angle, philosophy.

“What difference is there between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today that would lead us to believe the you could be killed back then as an embryo but not today?” said Klusendorf. “When they try to argue that the embryo has no value because it doesn’t look like us or isn’t developed like us, you simply ask the person what essential difference is there between you the embryo and you the adult.”
He explained that there are only four differences: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependence (S.L.E.D). He noted that none of these differences justifies murder.

Even though a human is smaller as an embryo that does not determine the value of the human. He pointed out that a tall basketball player cannot be determined more valuable than a student who is considerably shorter. Size does not give value.

Next, Klusendorf discussed level of development. He pointed out that a person’s development does not change one’s essential being. A two-year-old boy is less developed than a 21-year-old is, yet they both have the same right to life.

In his next point, he talked on how environment does not determine a person’s value.

“When people change location, they don’t stop being themselves. How does the journey of eight inches down the birth canal suddenly transform you from a non-human, a non-valuable thing we can kill, to a valuable human being?” he asked.

In his last point of S.L.E.D, he discussed degree of dependency. While it is true that in the womb a child is dependent on the mother for survival, he argued that that fact does not diminish one’s value. Conjoined twins, for example, share each other’s body systems and are dependent on one another.

“Not one of those is a good reason for saying you can be killed then but not now,” said Klusendorf.

What’s my duty?

Simply put, Klusendorf explained that our duty is to love thy neighbor and that every human being is considered a neighbor, even an unborn human.

He went on to explain that love is costly; it requires people to take a stand and face adversity.

Before he finished, he challenged each student at Bishop Heelan to visit and watch a short 55-second video depicting abortion. He also asked students to make that video their Facebook status and show the world the truth about abortion.

“I hope you join me and are willing to be one of those who argues persuasively, loves your unborn neighbor and makes a real difference in this culture,” he said. “Don’t be one of those who stand on the side. Go out there and make it happen.”


Throughout his presentation, Klusendorf used humor and popular references to connect with his audience. Anna Koch, a junior at Bishop Heelan, commented that the presentation was really interesting.

“He brought up a lot of issues and scientific facts that I hadn’t considered or known before,” said Koch.
Senior MaKayla Augustine admitted that before this presentation she didn’t know exactly how to back up her pro-life beliefs.

“I believe it’s important for students to learn how to back up their pro-life argument. I took away so much from this presentation. Everything he said was right on point, I loved it,” she said.

Augustine also commented on how happy Klusendorf came to her school to speak because this is such an important topic for people her age.

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