It’s disappointing to see Christianity watered-down to a single hot-button political issue, but since so many of the responses to posts on this site and facebook have focused exclusively on abortion, I wanted to address it. If you believe “Life” is the sole issue Christians should vote on, I don’t see how you could do anything but vote Democrat.
Some could argue that what a Party says is more important than what it actually does when it comes to abortion. But if you really care about protecting the unborn and believe saving those lives is more important than merely talking about how we should, you need to vote Democrat.
The truth is that whether a person IDs as “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” we should all be able to agree that 1-in-5 pregnancies in this country ending in abortion reflects a serious societal problem that needs to be addressed. The question is what do we do about it?
The Republican and Religious Right’s focus on criminalization and overturning Roe may makes proponents feel good, but it does not help the unborn. Republicans first made this a political issue back in the late 1970s, and we have as many abortions now as we had then. Despite decades of campaign promises and a period where 7 of 9 Supreme Court Justices were GOP appointees and Republicans controlled the White House and both branches of Congress, Roe remains the law of the land.
There are two possible explanations for this: 1) Republican leaders aren’t serious about saving the unborn and prefer abortion as a campaign issue; 2) their solution of trying to criminalize abortion doesn’t work. I think the answer is both, but let’s leave motivations out of the conversation and look only at solutions.
Even if the GOP Holy Grail was achieved and Roe was overturned, all that would do is kick the decision on whether abortion is legal back to the states. And if you look at states that might outlaw abortion—states where their legislatures have tried to limit abortion in some way or where 50%+ of the population IDs as pro-life—as one might imagine those 18 states account for only a small portion of all abortions performed in this country: only around 10%.
So if Roe was over turned and all 18 of those states completely outlawed abortion and none of the women in those states went across the border to get an abortion, the most we could hope to see is a 10% reduction in abortion. Now compare that to the fact that decades of demographic data show that if we cut the number of women living near poverty in half, we would see a 30% reduction in abortion. If you really care about protecting the unborn, which of those goals should you pursue?
There is a reason abortions went up under Reagan, up under Bush I, saw their largest decline since Roe under Clinton, and then leveled out again under Bush II (abortion data isn’t available yet for Obama’s first term). Democratic policies reduce abortions, and Republican policies tend to result in more.
I’m not saying the question of when life begins isn’t an important theological question. But when it comes to abortion policy (the outcome of politics), we know that the best way to actually protect the unborn is what Democrats have been championing for years. Democrats even had a bill (the Ryan-DeLauro bill which was mostly included in Obamacare) that the Bush CDC estimated would reduce abortions by up to 50% by tackling the their root causes.
If we want to actually reduce abortions, we need to prevent unwanted pregnancy. That means better access to contraception and family planning, and more funding for programs to prevent teen pregnancy (which are at all-time lows under Obama, by the way). It also means increasing access to pre- and post-natal and pediatric health care, child care assistance, domestic violence prevention programs, and improved adoption services. That is how we prevent women from ending up in a situation where they need an abortion or help them reach a place where they decide to carry the child to term.
I’ve mostly avoided the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” labels in this post because the labels have done a lot to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for special interest groups, but they have done little to help women, protect the unborn, or create a productive conversation. As a result, I’ve focused on abortion, not “Life.” But I’ll break my no-label rule for a moment. If you consider yourself “pro-life,” consider that ten times as many children in the U.S. die from inadequate healthcare each year as from late-term abortions. Needless to say, there are numerous other examples of how much more the balance tilts in the Democrat’s direction if we expand the conversation to actually “protecting life,” rather than just preventing abortion.
It is true that to many Christians the answer the GOP gives to the question of when life begins sounds better than the answer from Democrats. But to the unborn, there is no question that what Democrats do is much better than what Republicans do. So if you feel results are more important than words when it comes to “Life,” there is really no debate that Democrats are the Party for you.