Pro-Life and Racism

Pro-Life and Racism June 27, 2019

I am pro-life. I bet that quite a few of my long time readers figured I was pro-life anyway, so I decided to come out of the closet on that issue. I could say I am going to Baylor anyway so it is not like they can fire me from my state university job now. But that is not why I have not talked about abortion until now. In reality I have tended to focus on issues other than abortion in my writing, and until today saw no need to complicate my advocacy in other issues by bringing up this debate. Furthermore, I find that talking about abortion brings out nutty characters, and I attract enough of those already.

Why am I pro-life? I simply cannot justify having a pre-born baby torn apart so that we can deal with personal or social issues. I also find that many of the arguments about a woman owning the baby, and able to do what she wants with the child, sounds way too similar to arguments slave owners gave about owning slaves. So I am quite comfortable with my pro-life stance. If some of you want to chastise me in the comments for having this political position, then go for it. I seriously doubt that any of you will offer an argument that I have not heard before, and I am likely to be unimpressed with what you have to say.

And let me make it clear that when I say that I am pro-life that I would like to see legislation that ends the vast majority of abortions. I have heard some “pro-life” individuals who talk about reforming society so that fewer women seek abortion, but stop short of advocating legislation. I am all for many of the social reforms that would make abortion less attractive TOO. But if abortion is the taking of an innocent life, then legislation must be part of the entire package. After all we would not talk about merely reforming our society to discourage people from killing each other, but not outlaw murder.

And just to complete the picture of my pro-life stance, the exceptions I would allow if I could draw up my perfect law about abortion is for life of mother, extreme health conditions of mother, rape and incest. By extreme health conditions, it would have to be something that would be permanently crippling and certified by medical personnel. That would eliminate about 99 percent of all abortions. Of late I have heard interesting arguments about why we should not allow abortions in cases of rape and incest. I am not there yet, but it is possible for me to get there. So it is more likely that I will become less, and not more, open to exceptions in the future.

So why am I bringing this up now? Why muddle the waters in my discussions of racial alienation and Christianophobia with talk of abortion? Quite simply because my approach towards supporters of President Trump is going to be different in 2020 than it was in 2016, and this is a good issue to illustrate that difference. In 2016 I pleaded with my Christian friends to not vote for Trump. I had some quietly tell me that they did not vote for Trump in part due to my arguments. So I like to think I did some good. But in 2020 my focus is going to be on persuading them to hold Trump accountable.

Part of this change is just being realistic. Unfortunately, most of the Christians who voted for Trump in 2016 are not going to change their mind now. They know they already will pay the price in their loss of reputation no matter whether they support him in 2020 or not. So why not vote for him again? I am not going to change their minds. Indeed, I have heard from some of my Never-Trump Christian friends who are starting to talk like they are going to vote for Trump out of their fear of what the Democrats will do if they take back power. I have talked about the foolishness and lack of endgame of this approach but to little avail.

So if they are going to support Trump no matter what, then perhaps I can persuade them to pressure him to move away from some of his more egregious actions and attitudes. He is going to be our president until 2020 and maybe until 2024. Maybe he can be pressured to become a better president. Trump has little incentive to listen to those like me who do not support him. But he may listen to voices coming from his one of his core constituency – conservative Christians.

So what does this have to do with abortion? One of the reasons why many conservative Christians voted for him was because of his claim to being pro-life. I ridiculed their faith in his pro-life stance in 2016, but to be fair he has acted as a pro-life president. He has endorsed pro-life policies in his administration (such as the Mexico City policy) and appointed justices that are pro-life. It may be the case that the Supreme Court Justices appointed by Trump will overturn Roe v. Wade. But even then you will need legislation to move a pro-life agenda. This will require a pro-life movement strong enough to persuade legislators to act on the behalf of the unborn.
That movement cannot merely consist of older white evangelicals and Catholics. That movement has to include the young and people of color. The good news is that many of the young and people of color are pro-life. The bad news is that they hate Trump. If the pro-life movement wants to have long-term success, it is going to have to make allies of some of the young folks and people of color who right now cannot stand our president.

But that is going to be hard if pro-lifers reflexively defend all things Trump. Let me show this by concentrating on people of color. Pro-life people of color are going to have a hard time allying themselves with white pro-lifers if they continue to overlook the race-baiting done by Trump. By race-baiting what I mean is that Trump makes comments that provide comfort for some of the racist elements of our society and thus has encouraged the rise of white nationalism. I am not saying he is a racist, as I do not know if that is the case. But he certainly is willing to placate racists.

Whether it is his comments about Mexican rapists, denial of knowing the KKK or David Duke, talking about third world countries as S***holes, seeing the good in white nationalism, there is plenty to choose from when looking for race baiting done by this president. And it is not any one comment, which someone may explain away. This is a pattern he has had from his very candidacy. And sadly many conservative Christians have been silent about this pattern of race-baiting.

If conservative Christians put real pressure on Trump to stop this type of race-baiting then he would have to listen to them. He cannot win re-election without their support. If they are going to vote for him anyway, the least they can do is work to make him a president that is not consistently insulting people of color. It would be an improvement to have a president who no longer provides comfort to white racists. I am not asking for much.

I do not know if a strong push back against Trump will make it more likely for the pro-life movement to attract people of color. Many of us are so frustrated with our president that this push back may not be able to counteract the very act of voting for him. But given the way this president has increased racial alienation in our society, this push back is the right thing to do. So purely on the basis of it being the right thing to do, I would like to see pro-lifers start to hold Trump’s feet to the fire.

But beyond the moral righteousness of such action, pro-lifers who support Trump have to move in this direction if they hope to link themselves with other pro-lifers. Just telling those of us who cannot support him to just shut up and vote Republican just does not fly. If there is going to be a strong multiracial pro-life movement, it will not begin until more whites in that movement indicate that they actually care about racism in our society. That can start by confronting our president.

I get that some feel that voting for Trump will help the pro-life cause in the short term. But in the long term linking pro-life activism to Trump will discourage many people from taking the pro-life movement seriously. Rather they will blame the pro-life movement for Trump and all the damage that he is doing. Uncritical backing of Trump is clearly a penny-wise, pound foolish decision.

So to my fellow prolifers, let me say that if you want allies in this movement, then you are going to have to listen to the racial concerns of people of color. You do not have to agree with us on everything, but we do expect you to be willing to work with us to find solutions. And you definitely cannot uncritically accept the race-baiting of the president that you helped to put into office. In short if you care about saving babies in the long run, then you are going to have to care about racism as well. Somehow I think that is the way it should be.

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  • Rod Bristol

    Westboro Baptist Church galvanized public opinion to support the LGBT+ political agenda. In similar fashion, militant pro-life advocates, who try to force the public to accept their views by force of law, are galvanizing public opinion to support abortion. Dealing with the Devil may get some desired result, but the ultimate result is always evil.

    • katie99

      That’s an interesting perspective. As a pro-life member of the LGBTQ community, I never thought I’d be in the position to thank Westboro…

  • captcrisis

    Good point about white conservative Christians’ knee-jerk support of Trump, though I don’t think his racism exactly turns them off.

    • georgeyancey

      Unfortunately I believe you are right. I wish it did but I believe you are right.

    • Triggerman1976

      Somebody’s been drinking the koolaid.

  • BryanThomas90210

    Trump is definitely running the country exactly like I thought a pro-life president would.

  • wondering_out_loud

    I appreciate this well written and thoughtful article. I voted for Trump in 2016 (Carson in the primary) and will again in 2020 unless there is another pro-life candidate available to me. I’m not a one-issue voter, but the issue of the right to life is so fundamental that I can’t in good conscience vote for someone who is not pro-life or by not voting, vote against life by my silence. As an encouragement, I would love to ask each person who opposes President Trump to push back against the uncritical and often knee-jerk rejection and racial name calling of everything Trump and all who voted for him. He is not “presidential” in many respects, but he is transparent. The politicians we’ve elected in the past from either party have acted more presidential, but have not made things better for people of color (in my opinion). Measure more by what is done and less by parsing sentences.

    • Nathaniel

      “I’m not a one-issue voter, but the issue of the right to life is so fundamental that I can’t in good conscience vote for someone who is not pro-life or by not voting, vote against life by my silence.”

      By what definition do you declare yourself not an one issue voter?

      • wondering_out_loud

        My definition of a one issue voter is one who only looks at one issue. I have many issues that I believe are important however I do have one that I cannot compromise (life). I think that’s different than only caring about one issue.

        • Pennybird

          Then why bother looking at the other issues?

          I oppose Trump, and he is not transparent (where are his taxes?), he is empty. He knows literally nothing about this country, our history, our shared values, and he cares only about himself. Only about himself. He never met a prolifer he wouldn’t shoot on Fifth Avenue if he thought it would get him a little extra cash or publicity.

          • wondering_out_loud

            I can appreciate you are kind of a one issue voter in that you will not vote for someone named Trump. You could be right about many issues or even all of them. Are you then going to vote for a candidate that would champion the taking of innocent life through abortion because Trump must be defeated? If it helps to call me a one issue voter, because I will NOT vote for a politician who I believe will authorize and promote the taking of innocent human life through abortion, I’m fine with the label. My argument is I would love to consider other issues if presented with a choice of multiple candidates who value life.

          • jkcmsal

            Is it valuing life? Perhaps you are aware of numerous studies showing abortions go down when contraception is more available. To me this is valuing life because I want to see fewer babies/fetuses being killed. So I am quite comfortable voting for candidates, usually Democratic, who support availability of contraceptive services even though they “authorize … the taking of innocent human life through abortion”. Fewer abortions is better than more abortions. So again I ask, Is it valuing life? I hope this provides a way forward for considering other issues as you say you would love to.

            [ I am aware that many Christians, especially Catholics advocate contraception, however, those methods are not as effective as what I am referring to.]

          • Claire

            You support the taking of innocent lives by being anti-abortion. Or do you think women who die in childbirth are criminals for some reason?

        • Life? The life of a slug? The life of a mouse?

          I think it’s the life of a person that you hold so dear. Me, too. But don’t call a single cell a “person.”

    • Sarah Flood

      If you have one issue that you will always vote based on, then you are by definition a one-issue voter. Carson and Trump were both anti-abortion in the primaries, so you could ignore that issue, but if one of them had been pro-choice, I assume you would have gone with that issue.

      People who truly vote based on a constellation of issues will have multiple issues they care about and will vote for the candidate who most matches up with their shared values. For instance, I think that the environment, healthcare, immigration, poverty, and labor are all important issues, but I’m not going to vote for a candidate based on his stance on any one of them regardless of how he stands on any of the others. I’m going to compare candidates and find the one that most aligns with what I see as important. One year, I may vote for someone quite strong on environmental policy but a bit weak on healthcare. The next year, the candidate may be strong on universal healthcare but doesn’t have a super defined environmental policy. I’ll still vote for him if he matches up with my values. At some point, there might be a single issue that I would vote based on, and then I would fully admit that I’m a single issue voter. There are some issues worth being single-issue over. If a candidate proposed that we eradicate people with blue eyes, I’d vote against that person based on that single issue regardless of any other policy.

      So, like, just own being a single-issue voter.

  • AntithiChrist

    After almost 2000 years of warning us about the Antichrist, Individual 1 shows up, fitting the evil description to a T, and what do all the white Christians do?

    Run right out and vote for him. And likely will again.

    Deplorable Rubes.

    • Triggerman1976

      You REALLY don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • fractal

    Want to lower the abortion rate?
    Make a push for every fertile woman to have folic acid in their diet.
    Many abortions happen because of neural tube defects.
    FIFTY % of embryonic defects are caused by folic acid deficiency.

    To lower the rate of abortion, without ever changing a law or harassing a woman—what a thought!

    • Nanaverm

      Folic acid has been a required supplement to bread in the US for at least 10 years. A B vitamin, it is probably destroyed by alcohol consumption. Many low-income people are in food “deserts” without access to fresh oranges and other fruits and vegetables that contain folic acid.

      • fractal

        And we still have way too many babies born with neuro-tube birth defects!

        I doubt that folic acid in bread is going to be active enough to prevent these defects; it is pretty de-natured and doesn’t have the intrinsic factors needed to make it work properly in the body.

        Which is exactly why we need a huge push to get all girls educated about this.

        When my daughter was about 9 years old, I showed her examples of these defects and explained what caused them—told her there was no excuse for her to ever have a child with that disability.
        And I repeated that message often enough to make sure she never forgot—and she didn’t!
        She is 29, and always has fresh fruit and veggies every day; those pictures made an impact.

        Seems like anyone who is really pro-life would want to get out the message on TV, twitter—everywhere; instead they spend their time weeping and wailing about abortion.

    • AntithiChrist

      A “push” for *every fertile woman• to adopt a specific behavior is tantamount to a law.

      Your big brainstorm is a law requiring that all fertile women be deliberately poisoned?

      That’s your solution?

      I swear it must be something you’re drinking. If only there was a way to make America smart again.

      But keeping it more positive, in the overall spirit of your intent, how about a set of laws that guarantee everyone an education in human reproductive systems, including a culture of consent, and specifically outlining birth control options? And then, other laws making all birth control options, including Plan-B, as accessible as bubble gum for absolutely everyone?

      I get that that’s not as attractive to some as mandatorily poisoning women, but those people can surely find some spiders to torture or a play toy to rip apart to get their fixes.

      • fractal

        A “push” is tantamount to a law???
        No, it isn’t.

        Folic acid is NOT a poison—what kind of nonsense it that?
        It is a necessary component of nervous system growth and usage.

        I don’t think you understand neural-tube defects, how horrific they are, how common they are, and how many abortions they cause, not to mention painful defects and/or death.

  • Ezzy666

    Why would something smaller than a period clot be torn apart?

    • Maybe the author is thinking of third-trimester abortions. I hope he knows that those are quite rare.

      • Ezzy666

        The fetus is delivered intact in those

  • I seriously doubt that any of you will offer an argument that I have not heard before, and I am likely to be unimpressed with what you have to say.

    I’m sure you’re right. It makes one despair of finding any common ground.

    • Claire

      Such a comment shows how little he values the lives of women and girls. Typical of theocrats, I suppose.

      • I read a pro-life argument from Greg Koukl (Christian radio host). He said that the key thing is to understand what the unborn is. My thought: yes, exactly! And a single cell certainly isn’t a person.

        • Claire

          Of course it isn’t a person, but even if it were, why would it have a right to physically injure a woman against her will, when actual persons don’t have that right?

          These people just aren’t rational.