A few weeks ago, I wrote about what I call the “abortion-juke,” which is the use of the unborn to short-circuit all other important moral debates. It’s usually deployed by conservatives during an election when they face a choice between deeply-flawed candidates. It’s a way of whitewashing the lesser of the two evils, or of imposing a moral duty on other pro-lifers to support a candidate despite serious failings. More generally, it’s used to silence valid moral objections on other issues.
To be sure, anyone who complains about any abuse or destruction of human life while also supporting abortion-on-demand is a hypocrite, and a hypocrite of the worst sort. But it doesn’t mean they’re wrong about every issue. Hypocrisy just means living inconsistently with truth you profess. Most pro-choice activists are staunchly anti-racist, for instance. On that point, they are undeniably right, even if they are wrong on abortion.
You might think pro-life, conservative Christians would agree with this. And they typically do, until a school shooting happens. Then it’s wall-to-wall abortion-juking.
I am not interested in debating gun control, here. I am a gun-owner. Infer from that what you will. I’m writing to ask fellow pro-life Christians, for the love of God, to stop using the murders of fourteen high school students and three school employees to attack those who just want this type of senseless mass-killing to stop, as we all do. This species of abortion-juke is the worst of all. It’s ugly, tone-deaf, morally illiterate, and incredibly disrespectful to the families mourning the lives of their children, right now.
It’s also–sadly–incredibly common. After I began writing this, inspired by the dozens of friends and acquaintances who began abortion-juking pro-choicers who want to talk about gun control, I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed and saw an apalling cartoon in which a pro-choice woman with an anti-gun shirt asks, “How much longer will we tolerate the slaughter of innocent human life?” to which a fetus in the womb replies, “Seriously?”
This is not acceptable, Christians. In any way. This country undeniably has a problem with mass-shootings, and we undeniably need to do something about it. It is perfectly legitimate and even godly for Americans of all political persuasions to ask, “How can we prevent this from happening again?” It is not legitimate, in the aftermath of the carnage at Stoneman Douglas High School, to yell, “Yeah, but what about abortion?!”What about it? By sheer numbers, it is the worst moral horror in our society. Granted. But where is it written that we must never address any evil until the greatest evil is conquered? Who decreed that we may not perform or even talk about any good until the greatest good is accomplished? Can you imagine someone scolding a police officer or a judge for trying to stop and punish serial killers while slavery was still legal? That is the level of flippant false dilemma we are dealing with when pro-lifers scold anyone for caring about the murders of school children while abortion is still legal.
More infuriating still, this rhetorical move is precisely the sort pro-lifers complain about when it’s used against us. I think of liberals who accuse us of only caring about children before they’re born because we don’t support some pet piece of social legislation they’re pushing. This is true whether the legislation in question is a good or bad idea. The fact is, the morality of abortion is a national discussion worth having. And when someone tries to derail that discussion by accusing us of hypocrisy for not supporting an expansion of the food stamps program, we rightly call foul.
Why then are so many pro-lifers so ready to use the unborn as human shields against a discussion on mass-shootings? Why are so many defenders of the unborn determined to use the murder of babies to win cheap rhetorical points at a time when the nation’s attention is rightly turned to the murder of teenagers?
There is never a wrong time to talk about abortion. It is the greatest moral evil in our society. I wish we would all talk about it every day until we made it illegal worldwide. But there are other moral discussions we owe it to ourselves and our children to have. There is never a wrong time to talk about abortion. But not every discussion is about abortion.
If we truly are pro-life, we should be willing to square our shoulders, look our political opponents in the eye, and talk about what needs to be done to stop a uniquely horrifying form of bloodshed that’s wracked this nation again and again in recent months and years. Respect the lives lost in Florida, and Nevada, and Texas, and South Carolina and Connecticut enough to talk about ways to fight the scourge of mass-shootings. And respect the unborn enough to give them their own moral discussion, instead of using them to shut down another.