Equipped for Life Sharpens Skills for Pro-Life Advocates

Jacob Nels and Josh Brahm from the Equal Rights Institute teach sidewalk counselors at Together We Advocate 2021 in Redmond.

Josh Brahm has a big goal: help the entire pro-life movement in America shift direction. As one of the nation’s leading pro-life apologists and president of the Equal Rights Institute (ERI), Brahm has been doing exactly that since founding ERI in 2014. ERI’s stated aim is to help “pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly and argue persuasively” when talking with pro-choice friends and family. 

From ERI’s creation, Brahm has traveled the country teaching pro-life advocates at seminars how to best discuss abortion and change pro-choice hearts and minds. The in-person experience severely limited the number of participants, however, and Brahm dreamed of reaching a wider audience.

“We’re trying to train young pro-life advocates to be more gracious and effective than previous generations of well-meaning pro-life leaders who have done a lot of important work while sometimes making mistakes that get in their way of changing minds,” says Brahm.

The answer soon became obvious: create an online seminar containing much of ERI’s conversational wisdom. The 38-part, 10-module course is called Equipped for Life and offers classes like “The Biological Case for the Unborn,” “Talking to Abortion-Minded & Post-Abortive People” and “Bodily Rights Arguments.” Thousands have already completed or are currently enrolled around the globe, Brahm says.

That number includes multiple Oregon Right to Life (ORTL) members. ORTL leadership feels that the Equipped for Life course is so high-quality and crucial to effective pro-life advocacy that ORTL now offers the course for $5 (or free for those who need it) to supporters.

“Oregon needs more trained pro-life people who can compassionately and thoroughly answer pro-choice arguments,” says Lois Anderson, ORTL’s executive director. “The team at Equal Rights Institute have engaged in over 5,000 conversations and changed so many minds about abortion. We want to give you these same tools.” 

The feedback and data Brahm receives from course finishers have been similarly encouraging. “We’re able to tell through survey data that the students take before and after the course that they’ve experienced significant growth in their abilities to communicate effectively about abortion, and that we [at ERI] play a significant role (if not the most significant role) in their pro-life training now,” he says.

Equipped for Life is not just staring at a video screen for hours, either. Graduates have access to a private Facebook group including Brahm and other ERI staff members, live webinar archives and group activity ideas.

Brahm has already seen the fruits of his labors. A crisis pregnancy center in Minnesota, for example, decided to gift Equipped for Life access to a local pro-life college club. Upon finishing, the club began hosting frequent dialogue-oriented outreaches.

“Since then, their club has grown exponentially, and the campus culture has changed,” Brahm says. “Many pro-choice people have become pro-life, many students who are still pro-choice have begun to defend the pro-life club and the administration is far more responsive when vandalism happens against their displays.”

Brahm knows the same thing can happen in Oregon, despite its staunch pro-choice reputation.

“Everybody is busy, and I get that, but it’s easy for pro-life people to become stagnant in their training,” Brahm says. “Sometimes you only get one shot at helping someone see that the pro-life movement has better arguments than they expected, so this is an area where effectiveness really matters.”For more information on Equipped for Life, visit equalrightsinstitute.teachable.com/p/the-equipped-for-life-course. To participate in the course for the group rate of $5 (or to be gifted the course), email nickie@ortl.org or call 503-463-8563.

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