Pro-Life is More Than Anti-Abortion

It's time for the Church to commit to a larger pro-life view.

Imagine being so passionate about something that you’d be willing to stand up and talk about it for 10 hours.

That’s what happened in June when Wendy Davis, a state senator from Texas, filibustered Senate Bill 5, which bans all abortions after 20 weeks in the state and enacts new regulations on abortion clinics that will likely shut down all but five.

Though the bill eventually passed both houses and received the stamp of approval from Republican Governor Rick Perry on July 18, Davis’ filibuster put the entire process in limbo and brought national attention to the controversial legislation.

Ironically enough, the Church’s radical opposition to abortion has resulted in the abandonment of several Biblical ideas; namely love, grace, compassion and humility.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence showing life begins at the moment of conception. That being said, to abort a pregnancy is to end a human life and should not be legally permitted at any stage of pregnancy.

Of course, that idea has fallen out of favor. A 2012 Gallup/USA Today poll shows that most Americans—61 percent—favor “generally legal abortion” in the first three months of pregnancy.

Some would say it’s too harsh to equate abortion with literal murder. Others would say the government should not tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her own body. And some will insist that the fetus should not be considered “human” when it hasn’t even been born yet.

There are 42 abortion clinics in the state of Texas. This bill will likely reduce that number to five. That means 37 abortion clinics are going to close, leaving two in Houston, one in Austin, one in San Antonio and one in Dallas—none in West Texas, none near the Gulf Coast.

This is where the Church comes in.

The Orthodox Church opposes abortion rights because abortion poses a threat to the sanctity of human life, which, according to their own propositions, was intricately woven together by God Himself. Yet most Christians and church-goers would say—to the same people who choose to have their baby instead of turning to abortion—that they should take responsibility for their poor choices and not expect the government to provide for them. Is this the way the Church intends to treat the life it claimed was intricately woven together by God?

Ironically enough, the Church’s opposition to abortion has all too often resulted in the abandonment of several Biblical ideas; namely love, grace, compassion and humility.

Society sees a Church that is passionate about spouting off Bible verses and legislating morality, but retreats at the sight of responsibility and commitment. With this in mind, it is no mystery as to why the Church’s voice cannot be heard. Our angelic tongue is interrupted by resounding gongs and clanging cymbals.

Church, it’s time to step up. The global society needs a Church that will make its anti-abortion stance part of a larger pro-life worldview. The moral obligation of a pro-life advocate does not cease when they convince a mother to have her baby. The Church needs to abandon the harsh rhetoric and manipulation that sways instead of secures. It needs to be prepared to offer help and options for women.

Because of this law, lives will be saved from an unsolicited death. That is a very positive development. But it may also force children into an unsolicited life. There will be an increased risk for babies to be born to young mothers, teenagers and abusive homes. These are needs the Church must be ready to meet. Indeed, that has to be what we mean by being "pro-life."

The Church cannot only stand against death—it must believe in improving the quality of all life, from the cradle to the grave.

You Might Also Like

The real work will be the fruit of a Church that recognizes pro-life as a commitment and a responsibility.

There are consequences to everything, whether they’re intended or not. So, is the Church ready for the consequences of opposing abortion? Are we ready to take on the responsibilities that comes with revering life? Are we ready to support single mothers in our Churches, provide foster care to abandoned children and step up in our communities to support education? These are difficult demands and long roads—more difficult and comprehensive than simple abortion opposition—but in doing so, we're creating a better world for babies to be born into. That's the best kind of anti-abortion work there is. It will result in a Church that makes its mark not just by ranting and protesting, but by improving the quality of life for the children it has fought to save.

As people celebrate the passage of this bill, do not fall under the impression that the work here is finished. Saved lives will not be its only fruit. Indeed, they shouldn’t be. The real work—the work that actually makes a difference in people’s lives—will be the fruit of a Church that recognizes pro-life as a commitment and a responsibility.

It’s easy to hold up a sign with a picture of a dead baby on it. It’s a lot harder to actually sympathize with a woman who got pregnant and has to keep her baby because there’s no abortion clinic nearby. Will we do it?

That remains to be seen. But if we improve our idea of what it means to be pro-life, then make no mistake, the culture's view of what it means to be pro-life will improve along with it.

Top Comments

Bill Samuel


Bill Samuel commented…

In the very limited arena it covers, the article is simply wrong. There are thousands of pregnancy centers and hundreds of other ministries helping pregnant women and recent mothers in the United States, and most of them are Christian-based and receive extensive support from evangelical and Catholic churches. This is a far bigger part of the pro-life movement than the political wing, and these two parts tend not to get along very well. Christians put in billions of dollars a year and tens of thousands volunteer to provide grace-filled services to women. The authors are obviously quite ignorant of what is happening.

There are real issues, but this article doesn't really discuss them. Many of the evangelical churches (decidedly not true for Catholic churches - the pro-life activism catalyzed the Church into unprecedented social justice and peace activism) are not very supportive of a public social safety net which would provide an environment in which less pregnant women would feel the desperation which often leads to abortion. They aren't pushing for a higher minimum wage, paid maternity leave, a robust health care system for all, etc. This would be a more proper ground to criticize them.

Also in the evangelical world, many do not see the connection with other life issues, such as war and the death penalty. But again the article did not address this.

Also, all this is changing for the better. A growing proportion of evangelicals are becoming active in social justice and peace issues. The National Association of Evangelicals, the largest grouping of evangelical churches, has embraced this. The consistent life ethic, once primarily associated with Catholics and the historic peace churches, has become more and more accepted among evangelicals, with several major books on the subject published by evangelicals in recent years (now outstripping Catholic contributions to the CLE).

So much good could have been said. It's too bad the authors took such a narrow view and didn't bother to check the facts first before writing.



ella commented…

My mom and a group of people from her church volunteer for Birthright, which offers just what you're suggesting..