Christian Writer: Pro-Life Movement Should “Get Over” Trying to Ban Abortions

Opinion   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 24, 2018   |   4:59PM   |   Washington, DC

Katelyn Beaty, a former managing editor at “Christianity Today,” argued this week that Christians should not ban abortions if they want to end them.

Instead, Beaty claimed that government programs are the answer to ending abortions and protecting unborn babies’ lives.

Writing for the Religion News Service, she criticized conservative pro-lifers for not being more supportive of welfare programs.

“In general, the anti-abortion movement should get over its aversion to federal social programs,” Beaty wrote. “Family-friendly public policies have a powerful effect on reducing demand for abortion services. It’s a natural extension of caring for prenatal life to create strong social support programs, particularly for economically vulnerable women, so that no one feels she has to abort to stay financially afloat.”

Responding to the possibility of a conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court, she argued that repealing Roe v. Wade will not end abortions or stop women from seeking them.

“… criminalizing abortion is not the way to abolish abortion,” she continued. “Even if Roe were overturned — which would send the issue back to the states, not outlaw it completely — there would still be thousands of women who, for various, complex reasons, believe abortion is their best option.”

This is true. Overturning Roe would not outlaw abortions, and some women still may seek them even when they are illegal; but even pro-abortion research groups admit that pro-life laws do reduce abortions and save unborn babies’ lives.

But the heart of Beaty’s argument was federal programs. She wrote:

In the United States, [Catholic ethicist and professor Charles] Camosy said, stronger supports for women and parents from 1992 to today — particularly the Affordable Care Act — almost certainly have contributed to the decline in abortion rates. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Earned Income Tax Credit also have likely helped the U.S. reach the lowest abortion rates since Roe v. Wade, according to Camosy and other Catholic advocates. …

Later, she continued:

The anti-abortion movement already recognizes that caring for prenatal life necessarily means caring for women. Leaders say that women facing unplanned pregnancies should be welcomed instead of shamed, and plenty of organizations encourage individual charity. It’s not uncommon for congregations to seek donations of infant formula, diapers and baby clothing to help and encourage expectant mothers to give birth. All this is well and good.

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But in the next paragraph, Beaty seemingly ignored this by asking “if the anti-abortion movement would be ready for care for women if Roe were overturned.”

“The next step for the anti-abortion movement will be to put its money where its mouth is— even if it means supporting expansion of federal programs and policies — so that no woman is forced to choose between economic security and having a child,” she concluded.

Pro-lifers do not debate that families need support or that abortion decisions often involve the parents’ finances and stability. But pro-lifers already do support such programs, government and private, that provide pregnant and parenting families with much-needed assistance. Across America, there are more than 2,000 pregnancy centers that run primarily off private donations and provide free services to pregnant and parenting families. And many churches and religious groups do more than just provide diapers and prayers. Many help struggling families pay for medical expenses, heating bills, food, transportation and more. Government is not the only source of support for these families.

Beaty is correct that support programs are a vital part of the pro-life movement. But these programs alone are not the answer to protecting unborn babies and mothers from abortion.

Elected officials, judges and laws also are important in directing the conscience of a nation and its values. And what value should be more core to America than that every human being is a valuable person who deserves a right to life?