When it comes to abortion, I am both pro-life and pro-choice. I’ll explain.
First off, I’ll say straightaway that my Christian faith dictates that life begins at the moment of conception, so I personally do not think abortion is a morally sound choice for a woman to make. However, I also acknowledge that those not bound to my personal faith are well within their rights to disagree with me on what the exact point of personhood may be. There are even those who would argue that any action which prevents what would otherwise be a living being is morally wrong—which means any use of contraceptives would also be wrong. So you see how this whole thing becomes a gray area. Where do we draw the line of personhood, and do we force others to agree with our line? Do we tell women what to do with their bodies? Do we picket in front of Planned Parenthood facilities? Do these tactics actually yield results? Does loving our neighbor count for anything?
We could argue all day long about where the line gets drawn, but at the end of the day, whether we are on the political left or right, most of us want the same result: fewer unwanted pregnancies. The question becomes how to best go about achieving that goal, and whether or not we are being loving and realistic in the aid we afford those who need it.
The stats sealed the deal for me. After some researching (and reading other blogs on the topic like this one from Rachel Held Evans), I realized that abortion rates are traditionally lowest under democratic presidents. Why? Because these administrations provide more resources (or social nets, if you will) for women faced with unwanted pregnancies, and this actually lowers the abortion rate.
You could also say that making abortion illegal actually doesn’t mean there are fewer abortions. This is important. Under the Reagan and Bush administrations, the abortion rate remained the same, as you can see in the graphic below. During the Clinton administration, that rate dropped by 16%. During the second Bush administration, it dropped another 8%, and during the Obama administration, another 14%. Thus, the largest, most drastic decreases in abortions in the United States clearly occurred during Democratic presidencies. The CDC also reported coinciding information, stating that during the years 2004—2008 (Bush administration), the number of reported abortions increased by 896 abortions per year. Compare that to the Obama administration (years 2009—2013), when the number of reported abortions decreased by 32,002 abortions per year. Facts like these may seem boring, but this isn’t something to ignore.
So if we’re truly concerned about life, as in pro-life, then we need to opt for the method that saves as many lives as possible. Instead of focusing on labels like pro-life, pro-choice, left, and right, maybe we should focus on the results. Let’s be more concerned with the end goal than the label we used to get there. The results spoke to me, and that’s when I first decided I was pro-choice.
Now, I know what a lot of you will say. That stats are complex, that there are multiple factors to consider. And I agree. But you know what? There’s another, equally important reason why I’m pro-choice, so even if you disagree with the stats, keep reading. Maybe this second reason will resonate within you.
I am pro-choice because pro-choice people are actually the best at living pro-life lives.
Pro-life advocates will fight to the death for the rights of the unborn child, but how many of them champion the personhood of the people living around them every day? I have heard people speak of the evils of abortion and, in the same breath, say that the government should provide less aid for the poor and the suffering, should not provide free birth control (the one that honestly just blows my mind), should ban people from coming to the United States based on religion or nationality, should not offer support for single mothers, should kill people in the prison systems. On and on it goes. The same people who would yell, “Abortion is murder!” outside Planned Parenthood would, all too often, not give two seconds’ thought to the quality of life the child will have once it’s actually born.
And that’s when pro-life stopped making sense to me. Because being pro-life is supposed to mean that we champion life—all life. We don’t stop caring about life once it’s out of the uterus. I would even argue that it is cruel and inhumane to force a woman to carry her child to term and raise that child without also providing her with the resources she needs to ensure that that child has a life worth living. It’s not the woman or the couple or “the system” or the lower class “looking for handouts” that we punish when we bring children into this world without support. It’s the children. The next generation of our country. The ones who are going to end up in orphanages and the foster care system and the prison systems. The children are the ones we are punishing. And in punishing them, we punish ourselves as a country.
If we are truly pro-life, then we champion the lives of the poor…whether they “deserve” it or not.
If we are truly pro-life, then we champion the lives of the hurting, “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the homeless, tempest-tossed,” as the Statue of Liberty says. We don’t ban them from our country based on their religion or nationality. We don’t separate families and turn a blind eye.
If we are truly pro-life, we ought to be consistent in that belief. We ought to show a little more compassion, cast a little less judgment.
So that’s why I’m pro-choice. Because statistics and common sense and moral decency all show me that being pro-choice in this country is the best way to actually be pro-life. It’s the stance that leads to the fewest abortions and best celebrates the sanctity of personhood. Since I’m a Christian and I believe in the imago dei—that all of us, whether we are on death row or unexpectedly pregnant or Muslim refugees or people of privilege teaching at a Christian university, are made in the image of God. That means something to me.
So until pro-life actually means being pro all life, this is where I stand.