Roe V Wade, Abortion & A Hypocritical Pro-Life Movement

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.

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15 thoughts on “Roe V Wade, Abortion & A Hypocritical Pro-Life Movement

  1. Great post, Shane. I do think a big question is: what if the life of the mother is at risk? Or, what if the fetus is not viable? (Often a fetus will die in the womb…and a woman won’t be able to pass it naturally). Abortion isn’t only a philosophical question, but also a medical question. There are many women who carry fetuses that are severely malformed. I’m not talking about down syndrome…but instead, babies that are formed without their major organs, etc…Most, if not all, of these babies die within a week or two of leaving the womb. It is a lot to ask a woman to carry a child to term, knowing that it will die, painfully, within a few hours or days or weeks of delivery. Even more, the costs of keeping a child like that alive for a day or a week or a month can put a family in debt for decades. Now, of course, I don’t support abortion. But I do think that there are medical instances when it should be allowed. Ultimately, those decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor. Not by people in Washington. Or in the church.

    • Great point Monet! I think those are all things that need to be taken into consideration that I couldn’t fit into my already too long post. Thanks for the contribution.

    • I hadn’t seen this. Wow, that’s convicting. Especially the part about there being more churches than children waiting to be adopted.

  2. As a foster parent, I see these children who are abused or neglected come through our home.  We bring these kids into our home and love them like our own kids.  I know that this is not the case for all foster homes, and we hear horror stories of people abusing these broken children more.  Which on a side note, I believe the church should step up and take these children in their home.  Nevertheless, we want the best for these kids and want to protect them.  The hardest part for me was not viewing their birth parents as the enemy.  These are the people who have neglected these children until someone has taken the child away.  They may not have murdered their children, but the damage that they have done is irrevocable.  I did not want these people any where near my kids.  It took a while for me to realize that these peoples lives were also broken and God loves them as much as these children.  After our first child went home, my beautiful wife created an email account  in which she can keep contact with these parents when their children are in our home.  This allows her to minister to them as well as take care of the children.  This allows us to get to know the parents and their story.  As the Swiss author Anne Louise Germaine stated, “To know all is to forgive all”.  Some parents take the help, and some don’t.  Whether they take the help or not, God desires us to care and pray for both parent and child regardless. (Sometimes easier said than done)

    • @cyclinganderson Thanks for sharing this. I agree that the church needs to be more involved in this. I’m inspired by friends of mine who have become involved in foster care. I’m hoping that our family will be able to do this soon as well. (Right now we have 5 kids of our own and the oldest is 6!)

  3. While I agree that we need to increase our efforts in helping children in foster care, increasing the number of adoptions, and being pro-life not strictly anti-abortion, I strongly disagree with your commercial for Planned Parenthood. There are countless health clinics in the US that provide the same healthcare for women that do not provide abortions and that do not receive the astronomical amount of federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives. Planned Parenthood received over $500million in Federal Funding last year. They employ abortionists who injure patients, expose them to STDs by using unsterile instruments, and leave many woman choosing an abortion barren b/c of a botched procedure. Women would not be left without healthcare if Planned Parenthood ceased to exist, which is the main rallying cry from their supporters.
     
    I also would like to state the pro-lifers I know, who are on the sidewalks of abortion centers attempting to save the unborn are also very involved in other ministries – assisting single mothers, volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers and senior centers, etc. I think it is unfair to link all active pro-lifers into a group that ONLY fight for the unborn because that is not accurate. 
    Planned Parenthood is not a company who is concerned with the health of women, but who works to increase their bottom line. There are currently 3 lawsuits pending against them regarding Medicaid fraud. There are womn dying on the abortion tables at Planned Parenthood clinics from botched procedures, but due to the political nature of abortion these incidents go highly under-reported.  Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms, but only teach women how to perform a self breast exam, which any woman can learn by looking online or picking up a brochure on breast health at any number of health facilities.  It angers me when Planned Parenthood is painted in a positive light at all, when each of their abortion centers has a quota of abortions they must meet.  Any small positive service they could possibly offer, pales in comparison to the destruction that is dealt behind their closed doors.

    • Sherry,
      I think you’ve read my post wrong I didn’t and would not show support for PP. In fact, to quote myself “PP provides abortions; therefore I am not in their corner.”I apologize if the post led you to believe anything differently. In fact, I may edit the post to clarify. The point I was intended to make was that we should replace PP with affordable women’s health care that does not provide abortions.
       
      Yes, of course all people who are pro-life are not hypocritical about life issues. However the pro-life political system can’t be called anything but hypocritical. I can not name a single pro-life organization that also speaks out against war or the death penalty. 
       
      Thanks for your comment.

  4. Shane, 
     
    Having just discovered your blog – yes I am going back through your top posts to stalk you and see what you have to say. As a young, feminist, white male, christian I have a very complex relationship with the idea of abortion. I would agree with all of your points and only just add that it is extremely difficult postion for us to be, we are caught in the middle of a culture war where neither side is willing to come out from the extremes of both sides. I often struggle with the hypocrisy of pro-lifers and the extreme hostility that both sides approach each other. (though as a Christian I cringe more often at the pro-lifers as they should be acting in love not hate).  I, in no way, want to support the deaths of thousands of innocents, yet I find it difficult to ignore the difficulties of most of the women that are getting abortions. As your article pointed out most abortions aren’t performed because “women just want to have consequence free sex” but due to financial reasons. And this is what I really struggle against with the abortion issue, because I feel so often we focus on this concept of abortion & the morality & availability of it rather than try to see why so many women are getting pregnant who don’t want children. With how complex, complicated, angry, hate-filled, and really going nowhere the abortion debate is these days it doesn’t seem to be we are any closer to solving the issue with the state. So what are we to do – we can stop young women from getting pregnant, and as long as it prevents the unnecessary end of young life it shouldn’t matter the cost. So that means safe-sex education, what would you rather have – more promiscuous pre-marital sex (which abstinence only teaching doesn’t seem to be stoping anyway) or more abortions. And we have to focus on young, lower-class, urban women on how to be safe. We have to make birth control affordable to everyone – regardless of religious belief.  And whether we like it or not there is a huge racial and classist component to this debate. We as a church, we as a church that is primarily white, with many large affluent congregations need to be reaching out to these women. If we are going to champion social justice we need to start with it with these women.

    • I get a little nervous when I see new comments on this post, for reasons you can probably understand. However, I really appreciated this one and I’m glad to have you as a reader!

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