Shifting the culture on abortion, door by door

At the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, we work to confront the culture with the truth about abortion every single day. We have large banners to reach commuters, hand-held educational displays to reach high school students and pedestrians, campus displays to reach university students, and postcards to reach everyone in possession of a mailbox. But for some time, we’ve been working on a new way of reaching people that we’d never tried before: door-knocking, the pro-life fusion of conversational apologetics and political canvassing.

I’ve discussed abortion with more people than I can count, so name-calling and protests and the occasional irate abortion supporter don’t really faze me much anymore. But I’ll admit it: I was really nervous to walk up someone’s driveway, knock on their door, and ask them what their opinion of abortion was.

Before we started sending teams of activists from door to door, we needed to test it out. Four of us took stacks of pamphlets, headed out to the suburbs, and hit the ground to give it a try. We planned to knock on doors, house by house, engage them on the abortion issue, and at the very least give them something to think about.

The number one thing that surprised me was how open to conversation people were. At one of the very first houses we approached, a young man came out, sat down on his porch, and began going through our pamphlet. When my colleague Devorah asked him what his opinion on abortion was, he said that he was pro-choice. But as we explained that human beings have human rights, and that science tells us when the human life begins, he began to nod. “I see what you guys are saying,” he murmured as he looked at the pamphlet.


“What we’re advocating for,” I told him, “is science-based public policy. The term ‘pro-choice’ means many things to many people—some think abortion should be legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and some think it should be legal in only a few circumstances. So in a multicultural society with a wide range of philosophical and religious beliefs on the value of human life, shouldn’t we as a society rely on a solid, scientific benchmark for when human rights begin—at the beginning of the human being’s life?” He agreed, and in the space of a fifteen-minute conversation, he went from pro-choice to pro-life. He gave us his contact information, and told us that he’d like to talk about abortion with his friends because he liked “planting seeds.” In our very first hour of canvassing, several people went from supporting abortion to pro-life—simply because we knocked on their door, asked them some questions, and provided them with information.

Over the summer, we rediscovered that the pro-abortion worldview is not prevalent because it is true or even compelling, but because it so often goes unchallenged. At door after door, we rediscovered something that all the available polling data tells us: that almost nobody—after months of door-knocking, we haven’t met one—knows that only Canada and two other nations on earth—North Korea and China—permit abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

At door after door, people registered shock at the visual reality of what the violence of abortion does to human beings growing in the womb. And in many cases, parents who were staunchly pro-life were surprised to find out that their children, due to a public school education, were becoming pro-abortion because they’d never had a discussion about it. At one house, the father was telling me how opposed to abortion he was—and then was shocked to find out that his teenage son was “sort of pro-choice.” We discussed the issue with both of them, and gave the father pro-life materials so he could equip himself to talk about the issue with his family.

And so the war against abortion gains another front—the doorsteps of Canadians. House by house, doorstep by doorstep, conversation by conversation, we are rebuilding the pro-life consensus and waking our slumbering country up to the reality that not all Canadians are safe.


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Jonathon Van Maren works with the Canadian Bio-ethical reform and his article is printed here with permission