Yesterday’s elections were bad news for preborn children in America. Kentucky reelected pro-choice Gov. Andy Beshear, indicating that abortion rights advocacy will be a positive issue for Democrats in next year’s national elections. Ohio voters adopted a ballot measure to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. And Virginia voters rebuffed Republican candidates in favor of those who support abortion rights.
Abortion rights have won in every election since Roe v. Wade was overturned and abortions have risen nationally, even though several states have restricted or outlawed the procedure. Yesterday’s results are significant politically because Donald Trump won Kentucky by a 25.9 percent margin in 2020 and Ohio by an 8 percent margin. While Joe Biden won Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governor’s race the next year.
Virginia’s elections are especially relevant to this issue since Gov. Youngkin has advocated an approach that many hoped would forge a cultural consensus on abortion.
Is a 15-week ban the solution?
Youngkin has been supporting a fifteen-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest, and protecting the life of the mother. US Catholic bishops have endorsed a similar Senate plan sponsored by Rep. Lindsey Graham (R.–SC) that would allow states to restrict abortion earlier in pregnancy but no later than fifteen weeks.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America also endorses a national ban on abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy and promises to oppose any presidential candidate who refuses to embrace this standard at a minimum.
Here’s the political reasoning behind such proposals: according to Gallup, 69 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in the first trimester (conception to twelve weeks), while support drops to 37 percent for the second trimester (thirteen to twenty-seven weeks) and 22 percent for the third (twenty-eight to forty weeks). Majorities oppose abortion being legal in the second (55 percent) and third (70 percent) trimester.
In other words, a majority of Americans would theoretically support an abortion ban at fifteen weeks. However, since only 13 percent oppose abortion in all circumstances, it would seem that a large majority also want exceptions for rape, incest, and to save the mother’s life.
The challenges we face
Some pro-life supporters believe that since life begins at conception, permitting abortion politically at any stage is wrong. Just as we would not debate whether to legalize the killing of a newborn baby versus one who is fifteen weeks old, we should not legalize the aborting of a preborn baby at any stage in its life.
However, since only 13 percent of Americans agree, forging a political strategy to eliminate all abortions will be challenging.
This is why many pro-life advocates view a fifteen-week ban as the way to reverse pro-abortion gains after Roe was overturned. They believe this to be a way for pro-life politicians to win the political power necessary to protect as many lives as possible. But yesterday’s results in Virginia call into question the political viability of this strategy as well.
Pro-life advocates clearly must not abandon our political efforts to protect preborn children. But yesterday’s results illustrate the challenges we face and remind us that, in a post-Roe world, supporting life also requires non-political strategies that are highly commended by Scripture.
Where ministry begins in a post-Christian culture
Research indicates that women who chose abortion did so for these reasons:
- Not financially prepared: 40 percent
- Not a good time: 36 percent
- Issues with partner: 31 percent
- Need to focus on other children: 29 percent
- Interferes with future plans: 20 percent
- Not emotionally or mentally prepared: 19 percent
- Health issue: 12 percent
- Not independent or mature enough: 7 percent
- Influence from family or friends: 5 percent
- Don’t want children: 3 percent
Only 12 percent considered the preborn child, citing “unable to provide a ‘good’ life.”
Those who choose abortion obviously prioritize their personal issues over the life of their preborn child. If we are to help women considering abortion choose life instead, clearly we need to help them with these practical issues. We can provide financial assistance, health care, and counseling and resources for managing their other relationships. We can support pro-life ministries that provide such services. We can encourage adoption for those who do not think they are prepared to have another child and we can consider adopting personally.
In these ways, we can meet mothers of preborn children at the point of their personal needs, following the example of our Lord as he healed bodies to heal souls. His first followers did the same as they ministered to a man born lame (Acts 3) and “the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits” (Acts 5:16).
In their pre-Christian culture, ministry began with personal compassion. In our post-Christian culture, the same is true today.
As a result, whenever we see this issue in the news, let’s pray for mothers considering abortion to choose life for their preborn child, then let’s look for practical ways to answer our prayers.
Would you join me in doing so right now?