Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the decision of Roe V Wade.
I’d like to talk a bit about why I’m pro-life, and why the (pro-life) movement should realize its hypocrisy and make strides to change it.
So please, if you read this, read it in its entirety, there’s a lot to unpack here.
First, some pro-choice perspectives:
In 1992 on the campaign trail Bill Clinton famously said that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” and President Obama echoed those sentiments recently.
The classic line for the pro-choice politician is to say that you don’t personally believe abortion is acceptable, but don’t believe that you should force that belief on anyone else.
I recently read a blog post by a pastor who insinuated that abortion was wrong but felt that to tell a woman she should not have an abortion seemed misogynistic.
Clinton’s statement gave rise to the myth that in The United States abortions were rare, but they were not and have not been. In all, 50 million have been aborted since Roe V Wade. But that’s not my main point here. I have to ask…why? To Bill Clinton, I ask, “why should you or anyone want abortions to be rare?” To the pro-choice politician, I ask, “why don’t you personally believe abortion is acceptable?” To the blogging pastor I ask, “Why do you insinuate that abortion is wrong?”
I can only believe that these people do not see abortion as murder. My question is, then why the miss-givings? If abortion is not murder then we should get on with the business of aborting for any reason whatsoever and unapologetically, as unapologetically as having a tumor removed.
But if abortion is taking a life, then why would you not use any LIFE-AFFIRMING methods possible to stop it? If you saw a woman on the street threatening the life of a child, would you choose to keep quiet because you fear that it would seem misogynistic to speak up, or because you don’t want to force on someone, your belief that killing a child is wrong?
Or would you do everything in your power to preserve life?
If the argument is simply that a woman’s right to choose outweighs the life of a baby, then the obvious question is, “why does that stop being the case once the child is born?” A case can easily be made that a baby becomes more of burden after it’s born, consider the cost of feeding and clothing a newborn, and childcare, not to mention the sleepless nights. It’s interesting to note that last year two philosophers, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva published a paper advocating for what they called “after-birth abortion,” or as anyone else would call it “infanticide.” They easily used the same arguments from the pro-choice stance to justify their argument. Most from the pro-life AND pro-choice movements were appalled.
I would regret it if I didn’t add that I’m a little disturbed by… well, people that look like me. Young evangelicals that when push comes to shove might admit to being pro-life, but won’t be bold or act on that belief because, for lack of a better phrase, it’s not sexy to be pro-life. If you’re in this group you be sure that if you take up the cause of the modern day slave trade, you’ll be applauded as a hero by everyone in your peer group, but if you’re passionate about the lives of the unborn then you might lose some friends and risk being labeled misogynistic or intolerant.
This leads me to the next section. I think the reason we draw those hurtful labels is because the inconsistency of the pro-life movement.
The hypocrisy of the pro-life movement.
If I had to give a definition of “pro-life” simply based on the opinions of the majority of those in the movement I would define it as follows.
Pro-Life: The belief solely in the sanctity of life inside the womb, with no care for the hardships of women who feel that abortion is their only option, and that the conditions that create such hardships are good. Oh and you have to be a Republican.
Last week blogger David D. Flowers echoed this sentiment on Facebook saying:
“I wonder if evangelicals know just how needlessly divisive it is to say “I’m pro-life” out in public. Two obvious problems with this: 1. The evangelical likely believes in some form of violence and supports American wars, therefore they are not “pro-life” in the truest sense. 2. They use the vitriolic language of politics, entering into endless worldly kingdom debates, that only ostracizes others from the love of Jesus.
I propose we stop using “pro-life” as a way of describing our feelings about the life God values, and learn a new language of the Kingdom of God. Jesus not only values fetuses, but the women who abort them. He loves the life of the terrorist, the godless liberal, and the conservative evangelical who has their head stuck in places where the sun doesn’t shine.”
Flowers statements are right on. I would add that we either need to redeem the term, or come up with a new one.
Being pro-life can’t just mean anti-abortion. It has to be a greater life ethic. I should support the anti-human trafficking movement, refuse to speak ill of others, and reject the lie of pornography, all for the same reason, because those positions affirm life. They are pro-life.
Some corrections the movement must make in order to be taken seriously and cease the hypocrisy.
1.) Be aggressively Pro-peace.
Does God care for the life of the unborn any more than the life of the soldier, both American and otherwise? No!
It’s worth noting that I personally came to my current opinions on war because I considered those cowardly individuals that gun down abortionists. This is obviously wrong, but I realized that most arguments that justify war (we live in a fallen world, greater good, saving future lives) would also justify the murder of an abortionist. Obviously the logic of the murderer is flawed, but so is the argument that justifies war. In addition, the effects of war on the psyches of selfless men and women who fight for our country are not very life affirming. Consider the suicide rates and epidemic of PTSD.
2.) Be anti-capital punishment.
Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong? It’s difficult to make the case that the death penalty is necessary. Most everyone agrees that the death penalty is not a deterrent for future crimes and once a person imprisoned they’re no longer a threat to society, so the death penalty does not keep us safer. The death penalty in our country has a storied past that includes botched executions, exonerated death row inmates, and racial bias.
3.) Support health care for women.
In a post last week at redletterchristians.org, Kristen Day, the Executive Director of Democrats For Life of America, wrote:
“One of the most overlooked achievements of the Affordable Care Act was the inclusion of the Pregnancy Assistance Fund (formerly part of the Pregnant Women Support Act). This provision gives grants to states to establish pilot programs aimed at assisting women in crisis pregnancies and helping them bring their pregnancies to term. Seventeen states are running successful pilot programs that help pregnant and parenting college women complete their degrees and find jobs, help pregnant teens complete their high school education, and provide job training and other support. None of this grant money can be used for abortion.
Under the ACA, pregnancy is no longer a pre-existing condition, and women receive pre-natal and post-natal care. Breast and cervical cancer screenings will be included in health plans. Women in all economic situations, especially the 19 million women who are not currently insured, will receive comprehensive health care coverage and not be charged more than men for the same plans just because they are women. The ACA was a real victory for the health of women and babies, despite what demagogues on either side of the abortion issue have asserted to the contrary.”
In another redletterchristian.org post this week Tony Campolo points out that “According to the Guttmacher Institute, 73 percent of all abortions performed in America are economically driven.” Knowing this, I will be truly surprised if the rates of abortions don’t fall in the coming years as a result of the Affordable Care Act, despite its many flaws. I realize that the majority of those calling themselves pro-life are also vehemently against the ACA, but it’s time we ask ourselves if we care about the lives of the unborn more than like the healthcare system we’ve grown accustomed to.
Any discussion about women’s healthcare must include a mention of Planned Parenthood. PP provides abortions; therefore I am not in their corner. However, we must realize that PP also provides many other services such as providing contraceptives (that in some cases prevent would be abortions), cancer screening and prevention, STD testing and treatment, and prenatal services. If we are really going to be pro-life then we must be pro-women’s health care to the same degree, advocating for free healthcare for those who can’t afford it!
Edit: A reader in comments pointed out that this seemed like a “commercial” for Planned Parenthood, and after rereading this paragraph I can understand how someone might think that. To be clear, my intent in this paragraph is to call for the replacing of PP with affordable womens health care, especially in low income neighborhoods. I am not is support of PP.
4.) Support adoption.
It’s not hard to imagine that women having abortions believe that there is no hope for their child to have a better life. Adoption makes a better life possible. In 2011 there were 104,236 children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted.
This list is obviously not comprehensive, these are only some of the larger issues. In addition to these things the church must also extend love and spiritual support to women who have had abortions.
I’ll close with a confession by saying that I’m guilty of not being very pro-life myself. I’m often not pro-life in thought, word and deed. I think hateful thoughts about those I disagree with, I say hurtful things about others, and I’m guilty of actions that are selfish and not life affirming.
Comment Policy: Comment in a way that is civil. I reserve the right to delete comments that contain libelous, defamatory, abusive, harassing, threatening, profane, pornographic, offensive, false, misleading, and anything which otherwise violates or encourages others to violate my sense of decorum.