Single-issue voters — depending on the issue — often face condescending commentary about their limited world view.
That’s not as true for those who say climate change or immigration animates their politics. But for people who consider themselves pro-life, it’s common to hear the complaint that embracing the call to defend both mothers and pre-born children is an inadequate, shortsighted choice. I frequently hear that when speaking on college campuses across the country, and usually it’s paired with the slur that if pro-life Americans really cared about children, we would do more for the living — though not those living in the womb.
An exchange I had with a student from Miami University of Oxford last May is case in point. The student argued that pro-lifers were actually going to cause suffering because if a baby was permitted to live, things might go wrong and the child could end up in foster care. The student’s conclusion was that we both need to end life in the womb and quit focusing on abortion until, apparently, all other problems in the world are solved.
My question to her was one I’ve asked many people: Is it upsetting that the American Diabetes Association doesn’t fight cancer, or that the American Cancer Association is not trying to cure every life-ending disease?
The answer to that question from her and others is always no. People understand that specializing in a subject, working to become more excellent and effective in addressing a problem, is one of the pursuits of adult life. At some point, passions become professions so that change can occur. And it’s the same for people who are engaged in the human rights issue of our day, abortion.
With concern for the pain and problems abortion can cause, some voters crystallize abortion as the defining criteria for our vote. A recent poll of more than 40,000 Americans shows that pro-life voters are significantly more likely than those who support legal abortion to say they will only vote for a candidate who agrees with them on that issue (27% to just 18%).
Just this week, a Marist Poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus found “by a margin of 10 percentage points (45% to 35%), those who identify as pro-life are more likely to say abortion is a ‘major factor’ in their vote for president than those who identify as pro-choice.”
Earlier this month, I debated the new editor of Christianity Today, Daniel Harrell, in a show hosted by Kerri Miller, on how people of faith could support President Donald Trump. The show was prompted by a controversial editorial written by the magazine’s outgoing editor, Mark Galli, who argued that, despite the fact that the president has followed through on all kinds of pro-life policies, he should be removed from office. It was a call for a purity test of sorts in political language and demeanor.
Should Christianity Today start applying a lifestyle, speech and demeanor test to all politicians, they will keep very busy. Many office holders might find that they fall short of the glory of God.
In the ballot box, voters are not choosing a pastor or pope, but a politician who has the ability to make a direct impact on public policy. And we make our choice from those listed on the ballot, after evaluating what those candidates pledge to do. Every voter must look at the issues of significance to them and make a choice about who will serve those interests.
In addition to voting, there are many things that can be done to create a culture of life.
Pro-lifers are often foster parents, lead adoption efforts and give to charity. Many pro-lifers fight for family leave policies or reforms on campus to help pregnant and parenting students. The motivation to help is played out one life at time.
I have two children with an incurable genetic condition, cystic fibrosis. On Friday, I march for the lives deemed too hard to be allowed to continue and to confront the idea that we need to eliminate the sufferer rather than address and overcome the suffering.
The irony is that organizations fighting things like cancer or diabetes are commended for the noble work they do, while those fighting for the potential of life in the womb face constant criticism, but pro-life Americans won’t give up.
Abortion may be a single issue, but given the life and death stakes it represents, it deserves the time and attention of voters and citizens alike.
LifeNews Note: Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America, which has more than 1,220 groups on college, university and high school campuses in all 50 states. Follow her @KristanHawkins, or subscribe to her podcast, “Explicitly Pro-Life.“