Megan Almon is a voice for those who have no voice.
Since 2009, Almon has trained tens of thousands of people, many of them students, how to defend their pro-life views.
Almon is a speaker with Life Training Institute, and approaches the life issue from a scientific, philosophical, and Biblical perspective.
The first question that has to be answered, she says, is “What is the unborn?” That question “frames the entire debate.”
“And that’s the question most people are not talking about right now,” she says.
Almon joins the “Problematic Women” podcast to explain her own pro-life journey, and offers wisdom on how we can all have meaningful and intelligent conversations about the unborn.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: It is my joy to welcome to the show today Megan Almon. Megan is a pro-life advocate and speaker with Life Training Institute. Megan, thank you so much for being here today.
Megan Almon: I am so excited to be a part of this show. Thank you.
Allen: Well, first go ahead and tell us a little bit about Life Training Institute. What is your mission and what do you all do?
Almon: Sure. Well, Life Training Institute is a pro-life apologetics training organization, which is kind of a mouthful for people who aren’t familiar with some of those words, but basically we train other people to make a reasonable case for the pro-life view.
We work predominantly with young people, but we’ll work with any audience, churches, often with pregnancy resource centers, even legislators around the country and beyond. And so, we love what we do, and that kind of sums it up.
Allen: Yeah, I love it. I was watching some of your videos this week, and I love how succinct you all are. You just present the pro-life case very clearly. So, you’re regularly speaking to hundreds of students on college campuses, places all over the United States, but you haven’t actually always been doing this work.
You used to be a journalist; before that you were a gymnast. So, how did you become this prominent speaker in the pro-life movement?
Almon: Yeah. Well, OK. Yep, that’s quite a story, isn’t it? No, I grew up really always loving, I think, just people. I was an artist. I loved to write, and the subject matter for me was always people. I wanted to draw them. I wanted to hear their stories and tell their stories.
If I watched a movie or read a book, I connected with a character, and I wanted to learn more about that person, even if they were imaginary. So, that was the thing that kind of drove the whole journey.
In college, I did major in journalism, with a specialty in magazines. I loved writing profiles. So, I wanted to, again, study people, hear their stories and communicate their stories to the world around me.
And after I married my husband, who I met at the University of Georgia, we moved back to his hometown in Newnan, Georgia, and I got a job writing in the local paper. And they gave me a lot of leeway for a newspaper, because I was a magazine writer, so they just let me have lots of space and kind of do my thing, and I appreciated that. But that’s where I started telling these kinds of stories.
And it was through the newspaper that this whole 180 really occurred. I was asked to cover a local event; it was the local pregnancy resource center’s annual fundraising banquet, because most pregnancy resource centers raised their funds for the whole year, really, through one major fundraising event each year.
Well, this was the one in our community, and I wasn’t even originally supposed to go. The girl who was supposed to go, went on a date, and so my editor sent me. And the man who spoke that night at the banquet was Scott Klusendorf, who is the founder and president of Life Training Institute. And I was so taken aback, in a good way, by what he was doing.
And really, I think it was the apologetics. He was up there talking about an issue—in this case, abortion—that was something that is so difficult to talk about, well, with just about anybody, and especially right now.
And I was watching this man going, “I just feel like you could ask him anything.” And even if he didn’t know the answer, he wouldn’t be shaken. There was a confidence about him, and it came through this ability to tell these kinds of stories, and so, that kind of spurred this journey.
Over the next couple of years, I went home, I started reading everything I could get my hands on that had to do with Christian apologetics, and it always circled back to these questions about what it means to be human, what it means to be valuable, because there’s that “people aspect” again, until I found myself in a situation going, “I’ve got to do something about this.”
And so my husband said, “Let’s send you back to school,” and he’s just that kind of guy.
So, I tell all the young girls I work with: “Marry a man like that.” He saw something, and he said, “You could do something really special, so let’s do that.” I did, I pursued a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.
And in the course of all of that, I reached out to Scott Klusendorf, because I just really wanted to learn from him. And he very graciously helped me. Every time I would reach out, he would answer a question or read something I had written and give me feedback, until eventually he asked me to join the speaking team at Life Training Institute.
That was 2009, and I have enjoyed being mentored by him since that time, and all of the others that I’ve learned from, and this is what I’m doing now. So, it’s been quite a while.
Allen: Yeah. Oh, that’s so awesome. Well, and I love that you mentioned Scott Klusendorf and hearing him and how when you first heard him speak, you just thought, “Oh, wow, this is something that I need to learn more about, hear more about.”
I was a freshman in high school the first time I ever heard the name Scott Klusendorf. And I was at a Christian school at that point, and my Bible teacher played just, I think, a 20-minute video of him going through his SLED argument, which I’ve talked about on this show, just laying out very clearly, OK, what are the differences that separate a child in the womb versus a child outside of the womb, or a person outside of the womb.
And he, just with that acronym—Size, Development, Environment, Dependency—he just lays it out so, so clearly what those differences are. And I think that is the beauty of his argument of what you all do is, you just make it simple.
So, go ahead, if you would share a little bit about the argument that you say this whole abortion debate hinges upon—which is, really, it comes down to this question of, what does it mean to be human? So, explain that a little bit more if you would.
Almon: Well, sure. Well, in an environment right now, where people are talking a lot about abortion or a lot about the things, rather, that bump into abortion, it is important to kind of hone in on, “What are we really talking about when we talk about abortion?”
And so, we always bring it back to a very simple syllogism or basic argument. It goes something like this: Premise one is that it is wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. And when I’m speaking to a group of students, or in any audience, really, no one disagrees with that one.
If they disagree with that one, I probably need to run away, right? We have other things to talk about.
But the second premise of this argument is that abortion intentionally kills innocent human beings. And that’s the one where we have work to do, because that’s the one that so many people disagree about.
But if those premises hold, then the conclusion naturally follows that abortion is wrong. That second premise, the way to back it up and to really argue for it in a way that’s compelling, is to talk about the central question, “What is the unborn?”
People want to know, can we kill the unborn? Well, if they’re not human, if having an abortion is no different than clipping a fingernail or pulling a tooth, as so many of my pro-choice friends want to tell me, then I can retire. What are we even making a big deal of?
But if the unborn are human, that’s completely different. So, we have to talk about that first. We answer the question “What is the unborn?” before we talk about anything else. And then we have an answer to that question, which you well know, Virginia, because you’ve heard Scott, and it is a scientific question.
So, we know that science answers the question. We could probably get into that in just a minute, but we can also make a case philosophically for why human beings matter. But all of it begins with the question, “What is the unborn?” That’s what frames the entire debate. And that’s the question most people are not talking about right now.
Allen: Yeah, absolutely. Such a critical question. Well, if you would, go ahead and go into a little bit of both what is that scientific argument, and then the more philosophical argument.
Almon: Absolutely. Well, let me back up to the question first, because when I say most people aren’t talking about that question right now, we’re hearing all kinds of justifications for abortion.
We’re hearing that it’s a matter of privacy, which is what the federal law says at the moment. We hear that it’s a matter of poverty, because women can’t afford to have more children. You name it.
Women need to be able to pursue their education and their careers or their dreams without an unplanned pregnancy standing in the way of that. If we make abortion illegal, we hear that women are going to possibly be harmed or even die in these awful back-alley abortions.
All these justifications rolling in for why abortion needs to be OK, or why it needs to remain legal, but all of them are skipping that question.
And the way I know that, Virginia, is that I’m going to ask myself anytime I hear justification for abortion: What if we were talking about a toddler? What if we were talking about a 3-year-old right now? Because if we gave those justifications for reasons why we ought to be able to take the life of a 3-year-old, it would become very obvious very quickly that something was the matter.
We know that 3-year-olds are human, and our question is, is the unborn human like the 3-year-old? So, we should always ask ourselves that question. What if we were talking about a toddler here? Because if the answer is, “No, we wouldn’t kill a toddler for that reason,” then we know that we wouldn’t kill the unborn for that reason, either, if the unborn is human like the toddler.
So, anytime you’re in a conversation, you can think about that, but when you’re back to your question, “What is the unborn?”, like I said, it’s a scientific question. It’s not a religious question. And there’s a whole branch of science that has answered that question. Well, it is embryology, right? The study of embryos. And it tells us, if we boil it down, that from the moment of conception, you and I and everyone listening, we were all living, distinct, whole human beings from the moment that we came into existence.
We were alive. We fit the definition of any organism. I think we learned those things in seventh grade, right, life-science class, where you have to check all the boxes of what qualifies as an organism, because that’s what embryos do from the single-celled stage.
They undergo cellular reproduction; so, they grow. They turn food into energy. They respond when you mess with them. All of these things that would describe a living thing, they meet that requirement.
The second thing is that they’re distinct. So, when we hear things like, “Oh, it’s just part of the woman’s body,” well, no, it’s not. It’s attached to its mother, but it’s not part of her body like my leg is a part of my body. It has its own unique genetic code, and that’s different from its mother’s and from its father’s.
In fact, if you’ll allow me, I just want to talk about this for a second because it blows my mind.
Almon: Gosh, Dr. Maureen Condic is a neurobiologist. She is, I believe, at the University of Utah, and she’s often asked as a biologist the question “How do you know when one type of cell becomes a new type of cell?” And she answers, “Well, that’s easy.” Across the board in biology, one of two things has to happen. If the cell changes in the stuff that it’s made up of, its material composition, then it’s a new cell, biologically speaking. Or if it changes behavior, then it’s a new cell, biologically speaking. But only one of those things has to happen.
So, Dr. Condic is then often asked, “Well, how do you know when human life begins?” And she says, “Well, when sperm and egg meet.” Within 250 milliseconds, the plasma membranes of those two cells begin to merge to form this hybrid cell surface. So, that egg cell actually changes in the stuff that it’s made up of, and becomes a brand new type of cell.
In less than a second. That’s remarkable, and that’s what the science tells us.
Yeah. So, it’s a distinct human being, and it’s a whole human being. And that just says it’s not part of us, like I was saying before. Not like a skin cell, or even like a sperm or egg cell that are both very much alive, but those cells are part of a larger organism with a specific role with regard to that organism.
The embryo, even at its single-celled stage, its parts work together toward its overall function, and it goes on to do these remarkable things.
And that’s where Scott kind of gets into … When you’ve heard him before, he alludes to the philosopher Richard Stith, who talks about the difference between things that are constructed and things that develop. We have this mindset that the embryo is somehow a constructed thing. Like you add some pieces to this clump of cells, which is language we hear pretty often, and the end product is going to be a baby.
And you think about how we’ve gone from our terminology. My grandmother would’ve said something like “procreation,” talking about making babies, but we exclusively use the term “reproduction,” which is really industrial. So, we have this mindset that these things are constructed, but they’re not. From the moment we came into existence, we drove our own development from within.
For the younger audience that’s listening, this is true of them, too, right now. They’re doing that still. And for those of us who have children, we certainly see that that’s happening. So, we could go on and on, but that’s what the [inaudible 00:13:38] tells us, and it just is fascinating.
Allen: It is fascinating. Thanks for laying that out so clearly. And I think you realize when you start getting into the science and talking about it, there’s just so many, I think, cool … not only arguments, but just … truths that are about human development and the science. And I love when we start to, I think, increasingly … People in America and across the world are realizing, wow, the science does back up the truth that life begins at conception.
And it’s really neat to, I think, slowly but surely begin to see more and more people awakening to that.
And I’m sure you have that experience as you travel, as you speak to young people, and you’re relaying this information. Is it pretty common that you’re seeing those light bulbs go off, and young people are coming up to you and saying, “Wow, I’ve never thought about this.” What are the reactions that you’re getting as you travel and speak to students?
Almon: Yeah. I think you nailed it, Virginia. When I’m speaking with students, I think the science is actually one of the hardest parts of the presentation for me, just because any room that we go into with the numbers and what they tell us, I’m always expecting that I’m going to talk to a young woman, or more than one, who has experienced an abortion. And perhaps someone who, even at the age of 16, 17, 18, who didn’t know what it is they were doing because they were told, “It’s just a clump of cells. It’s not a person yet. It’s not a human yet.”
So, here I am presenting to them something entirely different, as far as what the science says.
So in those cases, that can be very life-altering in a different way, but in a true way, that allows someone to come forward and have so many conversations with women who have kept this inside of themselves and gone, “I did not know until this moment.”
But they’re grateful. They’re not angry with me, or mad, or anything like that. It’s different. It kind of allowed the door to be open to talk about it.
With many students, whether they were undecided on the issue or already pro-life, it is. They’re so receptive because they’re going, “These are things that are fascinating to me and that I can use. I can take this, and I can talk about it.” And so I think the reactions probably run the gamut, but yes, many, many light bulb … . I think the reactions probably run the gamut, but yes, many, many light bulb moments, although so many will say, “Well, anyone who’s informed on the issue knows what the science says,” which may or may not be true entirely. But I think it’s important that we still talk about it, just for these reasons.
Allen: Yeah. What’s one of the most common questions that you’ll get from students when you speak with them.
Almon: I get a lot of questions about difficult situations, difficult circumstances. And those, again, there’s a whole spectrum of those. I don’t think there’s ever an environment that I’m in where I don’t get asked about “What about women who are raped?” which is just hard to say even, or “What about if the pregnancy is a threat to the mother’s life?”
These students are … they’re taking these things seriously. They’re presented with a lot of information, just given the generation that they are and what they have available to them through even just smartphone technology.
So, they’re thinking about it a lot more than, probably, we give them credit for, but a lot of their objections are rightly on the side of compassion. They want to know, “How do we handle this? If what you’re saying is true, and these are really human beings deserving of our protection, then how do we handle these tough things?”
Allen: Yeah. Well, I mean, I’d love for you to share how you respond to those questions and kind of explain maybe some tools for how we can be responding to questions like those in our own personal conversations and talking to our friends about the life issue. Because as we know, there’s a case that the Supreme Court has heard arguments for called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
That case could overturn Roe v. Wade, which will send abortion law back to states to decide. We’re going to find out some point this summer what the Supreme Court’s decision is on that case. But in all likelihood, when that ruling comes down, we’re all going to be having conversations with friends, with family members about the life issue.
And we’re not always going to agree with the people that we’re talking to. So, what would be some wisdom, some guidance about how we can have conversations both with knowledge and intelligence, but also with love and compassion.
Almon: Yeah. Let me jump in with two things, and then we can address those specific topics if you want to, as far as the questions that I get asked often. But one thing we have to remember about the issue, because I think you’re right, Virginia: If this goes the way we think that it’s going to, as far as the Supreme Court ruling, we all have to be apologists.
We all have to be ready to make a reasonable case. And one of the things that’s going to affect is our posture. I think that abortion—unlike many, many other moral issues that are out there—is treated differently.
I think it’s treated much more subjectively than it is like a real wrong or a real right or wrong. Abortion is framed as a matter of preference, and we can look at past debates.
Gosh, I’m remembering off the top of my head, in 2012, the vice presidential debate that year. And I only bring that one up because you can still go find it on YouTube and watch the last few minutes, where the moderator had two Catholic candidates in front of her, which was historic, but she said, almost exactly this, she said, “Gentlemen, I want to know how your religion has impacted your own personal view on the issue of abortion. And you must remember, this is an emotional issue. So, you must speak personally as if to say, ‘Don’t you dare claim that you’re right, and other people are wrong. I want your personal preference.”
That’s our national stage. And when we hear people, we talk to people, about abortion, we might hear things like, “Well, I would never have one, but I can’t tell other women what’s right and wrong for them.”
So, it’s framed … in this subjective way as if it’s something that we ourselves kind of create, like, “It’s right for me. It might be wrong for them. And that’s fine, your truth, my truth.” But we don’t treat other moral issues that way. Nobody’s talking about slavery that way. Nobody’s saying, “Oh, well, if you don’t like slavery, then don’t own one.”
That would be ludicrous, obviously. So, abortion is a moral issue, too. And I think we have to remember that when we’re talking about morality, we’re talking about something that’s real, not just something that’s imaginary that we create for ourselves.
And that kind of helps our posture because when that’s the case, then when we submit to the people in front of us, that we think that we’re right about the pro-life view and that people who disagree with us are, respectfully, wrong in their view, we hold an objective view, which means that by its very nature, it can true or false.
So, you’re actually standing on very humble ground when you’re submitting to the person in front of you that, “Hey, I could be wrong about my view. I think that I’m right. And I have excellent reasons that I’d like to share with you, but I could be wrong.” That’s humility.
And I think, oftentimes, when we make those types of claims in this particular culture we’re fearful of being viewed as arrogant, and it’s not arrogant, particularly with what’s at stake. So, that’s huge, first of all.
The second thing I think that we have to remember posture-wise in our conversations is the second aspect of the argument. You talked about SLED a few minutes ago, but the thing that SLED—size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency—this comes from, originally, a philosopher named Stephen Schwartz.
And he was trying to demonstrate that there’s no morally relevant difference between the embryos that we all once were and the adults or young adults that we are today that would have justified killing us back then, but not now.
What he’s making a case for is the fact that our value as human beings, our personhood, if you will, since so many want to distinguish between mere humans and persons, which is so weird to me, but our personhood isn’t based on our abilities, our functions, our attributes, none of that.
Our personhood is something that is grounded, our value is grounded, intrinsically in our shared human nature. That is the only true grounding for human equality. And it is a philosophical argument. And so, I think when we remember that, that guides us in all that we do.
It guides us in our passion for the pro-life view and in fighting for the lives of those who can’t speak for themselves. But it also speaks to the way that we treat others and the way that we have conversations with others, even on difficult topics like this, because that person in front of us who disagrees with us is every bit as valuable as the unborn children that we’re trying to protect.
And if we treat them any differently, then we’re the ones who need to be called on it. That’s not to say we can’t be firm in our view. That’s not to say we can’t offer our reasons, but we do it, as in 1 Peter 3:15, where he tells us that we’re all apologists when we “are always to be ready to offer reasons for the hope that is within us, that we’re to do so with gentleness and respect.”
And so, when we talk to others, that guides us. So, those things are big with what’s coming. And if we are the ones who, marked by the view that we hold, that we treat everyone with the intrinsic dignity that they have, I think it’s going to be something that makes a real difference. Because that’s not what I’m seeing right now on either side of the issue. I mean just … so, in fairness.
Allen: No, people listen when you’re kind to them and when you come at it with compassion.
Almon: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I’ve heard that even on this show with different people. “You guys talk about these issues, and it’s reasonable.” It’s not, “We’re going to attack the ideas because life is at stake.”
Allen: Yeah, absolutely. No, thank you so much for sharing that. I think it’s just such a critical point in history, and in the whole pro-life point in history and in the whole pro-life movement. And it can be so easy to get really caught up in the emotion. And you just want to tell someone, “You’re wrong,” but to actually take the time to stop and to think about, OK, this is a person of value standing in front of me, and how do I communicate truths to them in a loving way and a way that makes them then think, but of course, that makes them want to learn more, instead of just automatically putting up a wall.
Almon: Yeah. In those one-on-one conversations, I think that’s ultimately the most helpful thing that you ask them, their story. Like why do they get to the point that they hold that view? And then you can challenge it because, I think the pro-life view, if it’s actually true and the way I think it is, it will stand up to the toughest scrutiny.
Allen: Absolutely. Well, and I think when we think about just the pro-life movement and where we are and the fact that, OK, we could be seeing, we are seeing a lot of laws across America change, but we know that at the end of the day, it’s not enough just to change the laws.
You have to also be changing culture and creating a culture where life is valued at every level, at every time, born and unborn. So, how do we take steps towards that?
Almon: Yeah. Well, I 100% agree with you. I think that, first off, it is important that the laws change, because the law will save lives. If the law changes, lives will be saved. We can see this through even the civil rights movement.
It didn’t change all hearts and minds yet, but it did save lives. And it was right and good that that happened. And so, I hope that this goes that way as well.
I think that the ways that we change it are as unique as we are, only limited by time and resources, might be the way that I should put that. Basically, I think that the pro-life view is grounded in the larger Christian worldview; granted, not all who are pro-life are Christians.
The pro-life spectrum is full of people of all different walks of life for the scientific and philosophical reasons that we laid out. But I think that if we can begin telling stories, and I’m going to use this kind of in a broad sense, that are grounded in this pro-life view, stories that communicate the value of every single human being, stories that remind us of who we are and why we matter. In fact, the best stories do that. The best art, that’s what it does. It tells us things that we forgot were already true.
So, I think that in a sense, we live our lives artfully. For most of us, that looks like a just day-to-day faithfulness. It begins in our own homes, in our own closest circles, in our workplaces. And every time we contribute, I think, something good and true and beautiful there, it makes a difference.
Because of the kind of beings that we are in light of who our Creator is, I think that even those tiny things have eternal ramifications.
So, sometimes at summit ministries where I am on faculty, where my husband works, we have student conferences all summer long, and sometimes I speak on beauty—beauty as something that is objectively real and not just something that is in the eye of the beholder and what that does to our lives.
And one of the messages I give to students through that is that when we do even these small contributions of beauty in the day around us, if we bring repair to something that was broken, if we speak truth over something that is false, if we create something new, like a story, or like a piece of art, every time we do that, that is our act of defiance against all that is broken.
And beauty has a way of reaching people before they’re aware of it. It sneaks past those sleeping dragons. I think C.S. Lewis kind of put it that way, and it captivates our imaginations so that we are changed from the inside out. It impacts our souls in important ways.
So, that was very general and probably tough, but that’s the way I think of it, because there’s no real silver bullet. There’s just opportunities in every moment of every day of, “What story are we telling with our lives?”
Allen: Yeah. Yeah. No, I love that. As a journalist and you, as a former journalist, I think there is so much truth to just what you said of the power of stories and of relaying through your own life experiences, through life experiences that you’ve heard about, relaying those messages.
You can’t debate a story. It’s, “This is what happened.” And there’s such beauty and authenticity in that. How can our listeners keep up with your work and learn more about what you’re doing?
Almon: Yeah. Well, absolutely. Because with those stories that we have to tell with our lives, we have all of these excellent reasons also that we can provide in terms of telling people the truth.
Life Training Institute, our website is prolifetraining.com. It’s just all mushed together, prolifetraining.com. And if you go there, you’ll find out more about our speaking team, about opportunities to bring us wherever. We go pretty much wherever we are invited, if we’re able to do so.
And we love to speak to student groups and youth groups and schools as much as possible, because those are the groups more at risk for abortion, although women are having abortions of all ages that we see now.
So, yeah, prolifetraining.com. You can find us on social media as well. We’d love to come out and visit.
Allen: Excellent. And Megan, before we let you go, we have a question that we love to ask all of our first-time guests on this show, and that is: Do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes or no? Why or why not?
Almon: I have to go with “no,” only because of the way the term is used nowadays. Feminism is, I guess, it’s an interesting word, right?
It has quite a history with it, but with the waves of feminism that have come through the years, even as far back as one of my heroes, Dorothy Sayers, who was asked the same question in the mid-20th century, she answered with, “No, I don’t consider myself a feminist” for these very reasons.
I think that among the mistakes that we’ve seen feminism, in its maybe secular and cultural sense, make is that it tends to confuse intrinsic dignity with attributed dignity. And I believe that human beings are intrinsically valuable without regard to what they’re capable of doing.
So, I think that just has a better story to tell us than feminism, which tells us that we’re valued for certain abilities or not valued for inabilities. I just think that’s a false narrative.
Allen: So good. Megan, thank you. We really, really appreciate your time. Megan Almon at Life Training Institute, we’ll be sure to put those links in the show notes so you all can check out more of Megan’s work. But we just so appreciate you being here, Megan.
Almon: I appreciate you, Virginia, and the podcast. Thank you so much.
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