Scott Klusendorf, founder and president of the Life Training Institute, spoke in defense of pro-life beliefs and activism Wednesday evening at an event organized by Students for Life.
Established in 2004, the Life Training Institute is a pro-life organization that advocates against the legalization of abortion and trains anti-abortion activists.
Klusendorf gave what he defined as a scientific and philosophical argument against abortion, emphasizing that it was not reliant on religion. As part of his argument, he addressed five specific questions regarding the nature of moral reasoning, the unborn, the definition of abortion, the question of what makes humans valuable and two opposition approaches that he then countered.
To start, he stressed what he called his syllogism against abortion.
“Premise one: it is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being,” he said. “Premise two: abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being. Conclusion: therefore, abortion is wrong.”
Students for Life Vice President Rachel Crawford, an LSA junior, said she thinks it is important for University of Michigan students to be open to the pro-life discussion.
“I think it’s important for any academic space to be able to allow speakers from unpopular opinions so that we can listen to those who disagree, because when we listen to those who disagree we discover the truth more,” she said. “I also think that we as a society are kind of moving towards a place where we feel that the question of abortion has been answered, but I think that there is a conversation that still needs to be had.”
Students for Life member Emily Stumpo, an LSA freshman, said she felt the pro-life argument should be heard, noting that she liked how Klusendorf took a philosophical approach.
“I am personally pro-life, so I really appreciate the fact that the University allowed this to happen,” she said. “A lot of the time, in pro-life work, you get shut down really early on, so I really appreciate that. I really liked the balanced way his discussion went. It wasn’t religious, which is a large turnoff for a lot of people.”
Stumpo added she felt what she called a value for human life was an integral part of the lecture.
“I just enjoyed his passion for human life,” she said. “That’s something that I aspire to, as a psychologist. Life and the potential for people to have a productive life is something that we as people who have productive lives take for granted, and we don’t realize that we contribute to those lives that aren’t productive. I really appreciate people who do Scott’s work so that human life really gets the integrity and human life that it deserves.“
In an interview after the presentation, Klusendorf said he hopes to spark a new conversation.
“My goal is — if they’re pro-choice — is to give them something they’ll think about,” he said. “That’s it. I don’t think we want to say people will not change their minds. I’m open to having my mind changed. I could be wrong. And then the way I keep an open mind is to listen to arguments from the other side. My goal was to give pro-choice students something to think about. My goal for the pro-life students was to equip them to give an intelligent but gracious defense for the pro-life view.”
Klusendorf added that he thought it was important for different viewpoints to exist in a university setting.
“I think one of the most damaging things to a good education is political correctness that censors viewpoints and deems them to be unsafe or intolerant or somehow dangerous to the life of the community,” he said. “We ought to have a commitment to pursue the truth and follow the evidence wherever it leads and not close off certain things as off-bounds because we don’t want to offend somebody.”