When George Floyd was murdered earlier this year, the nation erupted in rage and blame and heartache. It was horrific to see one human being so mercilessly kill another. And then, a barrage of words and terms, some new, some not: Black Lives Matter, Black Out Tuesday, White Privilege, White Fragility, Colorism, Defund the Police, and a sudden disdain for the terms ‘color-blind’ and the phrase ‘All Lives Matter.’
It was all so sad. And confusing. Because I am not black, I was initially uneasy about what to say or not say. I didn’t want to be insensitive, or overly-sensitive. But I wanted to learn. And I didn’t want to be afraid to learn.
So I read material and watched webcasts by black authors that were recommended to me. And our family watched (and continue to watch) Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man (which is excellent) hosted by Emmanuel Acho on YouTube.
I will never fully know the black experience, but I want to connect with my black brothers and sisters as much as possible on the human experience.
In a bit of a similar vein…there is a lot of misconstruction and derision regarding the “right to life” vs. “right to abortion” debate. Many people on both sides are angry and distressed and unyielding. I wish we could listen to each other, educate ourselves further on each position, and not be afraid to learn.
All of this came to mind for me when I read a piece that writer Jennifer Abel posted last month, criticizing people who are “single-issue” voters when their issue is pro-life. Her position is that in the upcoming presidential election, a pro-lifer’s vote can’t be taken seriously because President Trump is so horrible and there are so many issues that are of more value.
Hmm. A quick bit of my background: I volunteered at Planned Parenthood for a while after my first child was born, but I later settled on the side of helping women cope and manage and thrive through the unexpected journey of growing a human being, consequently supporting the tiny human’s right to thrive as well. This, to me, is the non-violent, holistic, and moral approach to caring for women in crisis. I then worked for a CPC (crisis pregnancy center) for 12 years as the education director.
Abel’s post kept niggling at me, because I feel the pro-life position is misunderstood and mocked and always unfairly placed into the category of ‘radical right’ or ‘anti-woman.’ So, I want to try to clarify a few things. There is already an uproar of screeching about this topic, and what I write here may not be new to anyone, but I’m hoping to plant some seeds for thought anyway. I pray people on both sides of this issue will read this with a mind to learn.
The first question Abel asks of pro-life voters in her post is this: (When voting) Why is (abortion) the one and only thing that matters?
My answer is that most people are single-issue voters, just on different issues. Some voters do feel abortion is the key concern; others feel racism is all that matters, or immigration reform. Others vote solely for economic security. People do vote for what they are most passionate about.
Would Abel (or those who agree with her) equally criticize someone who claims “racism is the only thing that matters”? Or “immigration is the only thing that matters”? How about “getting-Covid-19-under-control-is-the-only-thing-that-matters”? Even “getting-Trump-out-of-office” is the only thing that matters” (as I’ve heard many people say.)
I would urge Abel and all of us to replace the noun in that sentence with any political issue we like and see if we disparage the thinking of that position like Abel does the pro-life vote. If we do not, then I think we need to acknowledge our bias here.
As to why abortion is the single issue for some voters: The Declaration of Independence states that we have “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Life is #1. Human life, in all its forms, has a fundamental right to keep living. This is an inalienable right given to us by our Creator, which governments are created to protect. If we don’t have LIFE, what does anything else matter? We have no liberty and no options to pursue anything. We have been exterminated. For some voters, it’s as clear-cut as that. Every life has value.
Parallel to that is this: When we justify killing a preborn baby because it’s “inconvenient” for whatever reason, we are on the slippery slope. Who next will be considered “inconvenient” (maybe the homeless family who frequents your local soup kitchen, or your special-needs brother), and who gets to decide that? Sadly, humankind has a history of justifying this egregious path. (Here’s a list of genocides and ethnic cleansings, deliberate and violent eliminations of myriad, “inconvenient” groups.)
On American soil, beginning with the Civil War and ending in 1890, American settlers claimed sovereignty over Native American Indians, deciding they were unwanted and inconvenient and drove them off their own land by way of captivity or massacre. We did this with slavery, decreeing the white race selects which black lives live or die. Hitler imposed this evil on the Jewish people. We have seen this too many times: one authoritative individual or group deciding the fate of innocent lives.
Looking back, we are horrified and ashamed that we ever permitted such atrocities. And yet…in the eyes of many, in 1973 (when abortion was legalized nationwide) we sanctioned destroying innocent life again.
It’s clear that it’s easier to mistreat and eliminate another segment of humankind once we’ve decided it’s fine and rational to do so with one.
Abortion is a long slide down the slope. But we accept it because it’s been ‘legally’ declared the mother has a ‘right’ to end that life under the cover of ‘privacy.’ In 1973, shortly after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide, Rev. Jessie Jackson had these comments:
There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of a higher order than the right to life. I believe that life is not private, but rather it is public and universal. If one accepts the position that life is private, and therefore you have the right to do with it as you please, one must also accept the conclusion of that logic. That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside of your right to be concerned.
Slavery was not only a private issue, but also a ‘legal’ practice. And as I noted earlier, in early America, the federal government deemed it was ‘legal’ and ‘right’ to slaughter Native Americans. The human mind is very good at justifying anything it wants to. However, because actions are ‘legal’ does not mean they are moral.
With euthanasia ‘legal’ in nine states in the U.S., we’re continuing to slip down that slope. How we neglect/mistreat the elderly…another slither. MLK Jr. said this: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere….whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
I pray there will not come a time when overweight, middle-aged Nanas are deemed “inconvenient.” But, there are no guarantees. The hard truth is, when one group has been dismissed as having no value, all others are in jeopardy.
2. Abel asks: Is that the one and only thing (abortion) that matters to Jesus? Reading through the Bible, I would say unequivocally “NO.” What does the Bible say directly about abortion?
Abortion, specifically, is not mentioned in scripture because it was not an issue of the day (although I’m sure it occurred.) Jesus didn’t speak about drug abuse either, or addiction to pornography or social media. (In our lust for the secular, we have continued to create new ways to stray from God’s design for how to live honorably.)
However, Jesus did address abortion in the framework of the 6th commandment: “Do not kill.” Addictions of all forms fall under the 1st commandment: “Have no other gods before me.” Every modern sin (and future ones we have not thought of yet) is just a variation of one of the Big 10.
Abel adds: (regarding abortion) “the Bible has FAR, FAR more to say about pride, about abusing power to mistreat the poor, about lying, about treating others with hatred…
Yes, Jesus repeatedly warns about all of these sins, and with good reason: they directly nourish the greater immoralities, like oppression, exploitation, racism, and abortion. So yes, these sins are serious trouble for all of us, as they enable grave harm to be done. Jesus is telling us to guard our hearts early and always so rotten seeds don’t get planted in the first place.
Abel goes on: Christians, why are you so willing to toss all of those immorals aside?
I believe this is an unfair and untrue characterization of a pro-life voter – just as claiming those who stand for Black Lives Matter don’t care about white lives, poor lives, disabled lives, etc.
Because people are passionate and vocal about one issue does not mean they are dismissing others.
Secondly, pro-lifers do stand equally against the aforementioned depravities. The sins of mistreatment and hatred of the vulnerable, pride, and greed are what feed the abortion industry.
3. Abel writes: I am pro-life. I also want to honor and value the lives of women who find themselves in the position of considering abortion. Those lives also matter to me.
They matter to pro-life voters as well, but this is never reported. Pro-lifers are always portrayed as caring only about the baby, and this is simply untrue. There are more CPCs in the nation than abortion clinics. (As of 2017, 809 abortion clinics; 2,300 CPCs.)
Pro-lifers understand that most women do not choose abortion lightly. Author Frederica Mathewes-Green states it this way:
IN THIS PODCAST, Mathewes-Green discusses her evolution on this issue, and how women have been fooled into thinking abortion is in their best interest.
Women facing unexpected pregnancies are distressed, often alone, and have legitimate fears about what lies ahead. They need society’s support in concrete and long-term ways. I can tell you, in a CPC, every concern and need of that mom/couple is addressed. Resources of all kinds are offered, throughout the pregnancy, at no cost.
I urge everyone to not be deceived; abortion is a business. A surgical (in-clinic) abortion costs approximately $500, depending on where you live. A medical (pills) abortion “can cost up to $1,000, but is often less” – words from Planned Parenthood’s website. Women and their babies are the vehicles through which profits are sustained. Former abortion clinic director Carol Everett refers to abortion as “blood money,” and wrote a book by the same name about her journey out of the abortion industry.
The honorable way for society to help women in crisis is to promote and fund CPCs.
Abel agrees here: I think public policies that offer help and hope – financial and medical – are the best ways to reduce abortions.
Yes! Government funding (taxpayer monies) could be subsidizing CPCs; it could be funding adoptions. (There are waiting lists of infertile couples longing for a baby.) These are life-affirming and life-protecting efforts that would serve moms and their infants in innumerable ways.
Currently, however, the federal government gives Planned Parenthood (the largest abortion provider in the country) about 500 million dollars annually. That’s our taxpayer dollars at work – your money and mine – subsidizing the slaughter of innocent life. This, to me, is immoral. It breaks my heart.
Taxpayer funds also support housing for the poor, food programs, unemployment monies, education loans, and more. All resources that support life; yes, pro-life efforts! Government helps sustain and improve life in many ways and should continue to do so; but equally, it should not be financing death.
4. Abel goes on to say that if pro-lifers vote for Trump, she can’t take them seriously.
Abel is entitled to that opinion, but it’s not helpful to imply that the thinking of a conservative pro-lifer is ridiculous or stupid. In her post, she allows Joe Biden his “personal wrestling” with the abortion issue and gives him full grace regarding his fluctuating abortion views. Can she not imagine that pro-lifers might also wrestle with how to vote? Why, if they support the GOP ticket is their vote reduced to ‘not-to-be-taken-seriously’? It would seem fair then to posit that voting for Biden just because one hates Trump is not a serious vote either.
Regarding Trump’s caustic and divisive personality: Everyone I know agrees that president Trump is an appalling messenger for the conservative platform. No one defends his abrasive temperament or questionable character. The pro-lifers I’ve talked with are not voting for the man, but for the conservative principles of limited federal government, personal responsibility, free enterprise, religious liberty, and a strong national defense, as well as standing for the lives of the preborn.
It’s been said the presidential election is not a personality contest; conservatives can dismiss Donald Trump (a temporary resident of the White House) and think long-term. I know people who don’t particularly care for Joe Biden, but are voting for him anyway because they support the Democratic party’s agenda. Voting for the platform is not an absurd or unreasonable way to vote. It’s the best we can do when neither candidate is text-book perfect.
This is a crazy and bizarre election year, and it would help if we could extend political grace to one another.
Abel writes that evangelical Christians have been “hoodwinked” into thinking abortion is the only issue that matters to God.
Able is not paying attention then. Christians of all flavors are on their knees praying about and working hard to mend all kinds of social ills in this world. (Here’s a list of 50 U.S. Ministries.) Believers are acutely aware of how far we have all fallen from the abundant life Christ came to offer us. Abortion is simply the hot topic that fuels the media machine. People getting along, working together, sharing life stories and munching nachos on the patio…those stories don’t make the news.
I would also counter that women have been “hoodwinked” by the shrewdly-marketed abortion industry. This is where pro-lifers feel women have really been manipulated.
Abortion is presented as an easy (though costly) fix, even as it dodges the broader, consistent hardships mothers face.
Abortion enables society to not provide for what mothers need to succeed: flexible scheduling and maternity leave in the workplace, a living wage, affordable childcare, and advancing education opportunities. It also circumvents the unacceptable circumstances some mothers find themselves in. Author Megan Clancy writes:
There are women who are raped and become pregnant; the problem is that they were raped, not that they are pregnant.
There are women who are starving and become pregnant; the problem is that they are starving, not that they are pregnant.
There are women in abusive relationships who become pregnant; the problem is that they are in abusive relationships, not that they are pregnant.
Feminists for Life points out that abortion is inconsistent with the core feminist principles of justice, non-violence, and non-discrimination.
From their website: Abortion is discrimination based on age, size, location, and sometimes gender, disability, or parentage. And it is often the result of a more insidious form of discrimination: the lack of resources and support that pregnant women need and deserve. Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women.
Precisely. When we help pregnant women manage and succeed on their path, they don’t seek an abortion. Parenting, or creating an adoption plan become achievable and heartfelt goals.
Mothers and their babies are not natural enemies, and we need to discard the falsehood that growing a human being is the demise of a woman’s freedom and dreams.
Pregnancy is not a disease, and it’s not permanent. The female reproductive system is powerful and sacred and should be revered – not viewed as a structure of oppression, or biology’s way of undermining us. The ability to create and grow and deliver a human life is a miraculous gift. If you doubt that, talk to a woman who is infertile, or one who has suffered a miscarriage.
Women are smart and strong and capable of working through challenges when society esteems them. This is where we have failed. We must do better for women.
Even if a baby feels inconvenient to the mother at the time, no child is “unwanted.” As I noted earlier, infertile couples everywhere are waiting for newborns to love and call their own. No child must be sacrificed.
An additional thought for consideration: In 1973, one argument for nationally legalized abortion was that it would make women equal to men. Years ago, a male colleague of mine had some thoughts on that.
He shook his head and said, “Abortion gives men everything they always wanted. It gives them sexual freedom with no responsibility. Women already bear the brunt of birth control, and abortion on demand is a great back-up. By women insisting that men have no say in what they do with an unexpected pregnancy, they have enabled men to more easily exploit them.”
I was disheartened to hear that perspective, but this is one of the reasons 19th-century feminists opposed abortion: they understood it empowered men to freely walk away from fatherhood, and sometimes, their partners. How does this benefit women?
On the flip side, by excluding men from having any voice when their partner is pregnant, abortion disposes of a father’s right to protect and create a life with his offspring.
What a mess.
Two additional points that many people are confused about when it comes to the pro-life/abortion debate:
1. There is much talk about efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade. Many abortion supporters think the overturning of Roe v. Wade would ban all abortions outright. This is not the case. This would simply revert the decision about abortion to the individual states. This seems appropriate, given the great divide on this topic.
2. Most abortion supporters believe the pro-life stance implies there is no concern for a mother whose life is in danger due to her pregnancy and needs an abortion to save her life. This is untrue. In a case where the pregnancy is threatening the mother’s life, it’s appropriate and paramount to save the mother.
The solution is simply to deliver the baby, regardless of the stage of its development. If the infant dies, that is nature taking its course. For however long it lives, the mother is able to see and hold her child.
In the medical field, early delivery to save the mother is often termed abortion, but in the eyes of God, it is not. The difference here is medical intent: early delivery supports life to the best of its ability and allows natural death; the goal of an abortion is always to destroy the child.
A final piece of info here that I know is uncomfortable: I would encourage abortion supporters to educate themselves on what abortion really is. I didn’t know, prior to researching it myself 30 years ago. If you support abortion rights, then observe a surgical abortion and see what you’re defending.
Here’s a 27 min. video by Dr. Bernard Nathanson: ECLIPSE OF REASON. (Nathanson was the co-founder of NARAL, but once ultrasound technology was introduced became a for-life advocate.) Learn about the aggression of the abortion pill as well (actually two medications.) Don’t be afraid to be fully informed.
Regarding the 2020 presidential election, I pray voters will investigate all issues, and weigh from the mind – not emotion – which immoralities and social ills we are going to stand against. God knows there are plenty of them, as humankind is a sinful lot and always will be. It’s heart-wrenching to realize we have to choose to battle one or more evils at the expense of others. I respect that struggle, as I’m there myself.
On discouraging days, God reminds me that human beings have argued, lied, degraded, and killed one another from Day 1. Dissension and unrest are nothing new, although every generation feels that its particular battle is the worst ever. God also reminds me that He is aware of all of our malicious behavior, and that, in the end, justice will prevail.
I pray we are all educated and humble voters.
The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.- Gandhi