Your stance on abortion is a joke.
Now, let’s get a couple of things out of the way first.
- I am a Christian.
- I believe life begins at conception.
- I believe abortion takes a human life.
I’m not the typical person you see denigrating the conservative Christian position on abortion, so this should make for an interesting blog post. Throughout this election season I’ve repeatedly listened to good friends of mine (the majority of whom are conservative, Christian, and view abortion as “our nation’s genocide”) talk about how they could never vote for an opponent who was pro-choice. Generally this has always led to the point in the conversation where they say that, regardless of anything, they’re voting for Trump.
Realize this isn’t about Trump. I’m not going to tell you to vote for him or not to. What it is about is recognizing that Trump was a supporter of all forms of abortion, even elective partial-birth abortion, right up until the point he started campaigning for president on the Republican ticket. At that point it became politically necessary for him to claim that he was pro-life, regardless of any intentions to do anything at all about it. It is important to recognize two things: first, that the top four presidential candidates (Clinton, Trump, Johnson, and Stein) are all actually pro-choice; and second, that all it takes to win the evangelical vote on this issue is to tell Christians what they want to hear and then simply not follow up on it.
After a recent conversation with yet another Christian who claimed that the entire basis of their support for any elected official lay solely in their position on abortion, I conducted an informal poll and asked approximately one dozen college-educated, conservative Christians who identified abortion as their top issue to name the last time any legislative effort was made to outlaw abortion. Not a single one could name a single time, nor could they indicate that their support for a candidate would wane if he claimed to be pro-life but made no effort to act on that belief for his entire political career. In other words, the real Christian position on abortion is predicated on the kindergarten-level stance that someone only need to say “the magic words” to get their vote, and that immediately and permanently let both the voter and the candidate off the hook to do anything at all about it.
When I taught at a university I had a young, idealistic freshman approach me regarding abortion, defending it as the substantive issue upon which Christians should base all of their votes. She then went on to claim that no Christian could ever be a Democrat, and that the Republican party was the sole refuge of anyone claiming to love life. I asked her the same question I did of the others mentioned above – when was the last time the GOP did anything at all to change the status quo? Crickets. I then presented her a very specific situation: in 2002, when President George W. Bush was enjoying a 90% approval rate, when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, with a balanced (and arguably slightly conservative-leaning Supreme Court), did the GOP do anything to outlaw abortion?
Instead, what they made the focus of the entire government was a defense against terrorism in the light of 9/11. The legitimacy of 9/11 and terrorism is unarguably legitimate, so that aside, let’s pit the two scenarios against each other. On 9/11 approximately 3,000 US citizens died. According to conservative Christians, abortion represents a national genocide in which approximately 50 million have died since 1973.
50,000,000 versus 3,000, in the context of a government’s position on saving lives. Seems to be a bit of a non-issue, right? TO put this in perspective, here is a chart outlining the relative number of US deaths from terrorism and abortion during the same time frame.
If the GOP had actually adhered to its ideological position that abortion is one of, if not the key issue in protecting the lives of American citizens, shouldn’t it have placed terrorism beneath abortion in the priority list? Absolutely. What did it do? Not a damn thing – and Christians didn’t challenge that.
To throw in a quote from my favorite superhero, I think Batman probably sums this up best.
Christians excel at recommending we outlaw solutions without coming up with an actual answer. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 23:3-4 when he said, “They preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” Planned Parenthood and its policies, with all of their heinous ugliness, at least presents a solution. When a woman is facing the reality of an unwanted pregnancy, one that will change her life forever with the presence of a child she doesn’t love and doesn’t want to raise and would likely be unable to find an adoptive family for, she has a couple of choices. She can approach the side of the line represented by Planned Parenthood, where she will find acceptance, guidance, and a list of choices that, regardless of their ugliness, represent a way to live her life and ensure that a child will not grow up unwanted and unloved. Or, she could approach the side of the line represented by the Western Christian church, where she is instantly condemned as a whore for having the pregnancy, a murderer for even thinking about abortion, and an outcast when she seeks alternative options such as an adoption. What do you think she will choose? Do you see why Christianity is losing the cultural battle here?
If one family in every third church in America adopted a child, all of the children currently in the US foster care system who are eligible for adoption would find a home. Let that sink in. One family in one out of every three churches in America. I’ve spoken with multiple families who wanted to adopt and chose international over domestic adoption. The reasons range, but the most relevant and oft-cited reason is that domestic adoption laws often present a complicated scenario where the birth mother could later have a claim to access, and even parental rights, for the child. As long, painful, and expensive as the international adoption process can be, there is usually not this risk. No one wants to enter a situation where the child they adopt could possibly be forcefully taken from their family later in life, and this is completely understandable.
However, that shows Christians where their real fight lies. Abortion is not a legal issue; it is a cultural one. If Christians truly want to save lives, they should realize that the process Jesus outlined in founding Christianity was to redeem the social condition through the Christian’s presence as salt and light in everyday life, rather than by legislative action of outlawing anything they deemed to be sin. The Christian’s fight with regards to abortion should not be in outlawing the procedure, thereby driving abortions underground and actually costing lives (when the entire claimed basis of the movement is to save lives), but rather in presenting loving, grace-filled alternatives and an accepting refuge for those women in often-controversial situations. Christians should be fighting to change domestic laws to facilitate adoption, and then creating an environment where the church is begging to redeem unwanted children. Instead, the church is known only for being a bastion of hypocritical condemnation.
I say “hypocritical” because Christians are unwittingly responsible for thousands of abortions within the church each year. All forms of “the pill;” i.e., oral contraceptives, use abortifacients as a third line of defense. The first two lines of defense in oral contraceptives are actually contraceptive in nature – third line of defense is abortive, making the lining of the uterus unable to facilitate the implantation of a fertilized egg – and a fertilized egg, according to conservative Christian beliefs, is a life that has already formed. The linked article above estimates that even at infinitesimally low odds, it is likely that the pill is responsible for tens of thousands of unintentional and unknowing abortions each year. It is time for Christians to stop standing on the “holier-than-thou” ground they have planted their flag on for decades and recognize that, based on scientific evidence, many of the people you go to church with on a weekly basis are using a product responsible for abortions, all the while condemning others who engage in the practice.
Abortion is a legitimate healthcare issue. Without legalized, medically sanitary abortion, abortion would still continue, but it would look absolutely horrible. Per the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, approximately 42 million women choose abortion each year, globally, with nearly half of those procedures deemed unsafe. Approximately 68,000 women die each year from unsafe abortion procedures, making it one of the leading causes of maternal mortality at 13%. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every 8 minutes a woman in a developing nation will die of complications arising from an unsafe abortion. Outlawing abortion does not solve this issue (if you think it does, let me know how that war on drugs is going). Without cultural support for legitimate alternatives (e.g., adoption), making abortion illegal simply makes it unsafe for both the mother and the child and ironically presents a situation where MORE life is threatened rather than saved.
So, in the end, the Christian’s stance on abortion is an absolute and utter joke for several reasons:
- It relies on a juvenile and immature response to a complex and legitimate issue by simply requiring any candidate for any office to say some magic words to gain the Christian’s undying allegiance.
- It is a viewpoint founded on the position that we need not actually do anything, nor attempt to find any solutions, just as long as we judge those considered “more evil” than us.
- The viewpoint ignores science and legitimate healthcare issues (e.g., the chemical composition and effects of oral contraceptives and the legitimacy of legalized abortion in the world of healthcare) in favor of a hypocritical, judgmental basis that simply states “Don’t do that!” without event attempting understand or explain why.
If you want to be culturally relevant; if you want to present actual solutions steeped in love and grace rather than cliches and bumper stickers wrapped in judgment, then I would challenge you to rethink your position on abortion and what should be done about it. Be a solution in a world of problems.