The Anti-Life Pro-Lifers

Have you ever come across someone who vehemently supports the criminalization of most or all forms of abortion? Chances are that person opposed with equal fervor President Obama’s health care reform bill and most, if not all forms of public assistance to those in need. It is also quite likely that that person supported the Iraq War, which we waged on a nation that had never attacked us and was not a significant threat to us. That person probably also whole-heartedly embraces the death penalty the way it is applied today in our criminal justice system. I find it incredibly disturbing when so many conservatives claim that they value the sanctity of life, yet show no concern for the living.

I’m not trying to criticize the “pro-life” position that advocates restrictions or complete prohibition of abortion. I wrote two posts (here and here) where I articulated my views about abortion and the role of government in regulating it. I do, however, have a problem with people who claim to value the sanctity of life, yet do not care for the most vulnerable living among us.

The next time someone who is “pro-life” grumbles that they don’t want their tax dollars going to subsidizing health care for the poor (in the form of Medicaid, SCHIP, Obama’s health care reform, etc), ask them if they think that children in poor families whose parents cannot afford medical insurance deserve access to good medical care. If their answer is no (and they will probably start talking about twisted definitions of “liberty” to justify why poor people shouldn’t get access to health care they can’t afford), you’ll know that they really don’t value the sanctity of life. If conservatives are content to let the uninsured die simply because they cannot afford insurance, as Ron Paul noted in a GOP Presidential Primary debate, and are loathe to allow “redistributive” taxes pay for life-saving treatments, do they truly care about life? Should a poor child who has a debilitating condition such as asthma not be entitled to receive medical treatment simply because their mother or father’s employers don’t provide health insurance benefits and the parents can’t afford insurance on their meager wage? The truth is that many conservatives possess an incredibly selfish and unchristian political ideology where they would rather their fellow poorer citizens go without life-saving or life-sustaining treatments than allow tax dollars provide such assistance.

President Obama’s health care reform bill didn’t even target the poorest Americans, who in fact have health care coverage from Medicaid. The reform bill does the most for the class of Americans called the “working poor,” those who work full-time, but are employed in low-skill fields that provide no health benefits and very meager wages. So the common conservative claim about those receiving government assistance being “doleful” and “lazy” obviously doesn’t fit in this case.

What about ensuring that uninsured pregnant mothers get adequate pre and post-natal care? Is a pro-life conservative willing to have their tax dollars pay for that, especially after they advocate forcing women with unwanted pregnancies to carry their pregnancies to term? How about poor children who get free or subsidized lunches at school? Isn’t it hypocritical to claim you are pro-life when you don’t support such school lunch programs for poor hungry children? “Let the poor little bastards starve,” is the tacit message of that ideology, which is hardly emblematic of one who values life.

Then there is the issue of war and peace. The LDS cannon of scripture speaks of war only in self-defense scenarios and generally notes we should “renounce war and proclaim peace.” By now, it is more than clear that the U.S. waged war on Iraq not in self-defense, but for neoconservative geopolitical aspirations. Even back in early 2003, it was clear to most independent experts that we were not going to war as a last resort. Support for war when it is not a last resort and is not in self-defense completely contradicts the notion of valuing the sanctity of life. (Although I do think there is an argument for limited military operations to prevent genocide and similar atrocities, like we did with Libya and the former Yugoslavia.) The Iraq War resulted in over one-hundred-thousand human deaths, mostly of Iraqi civilians.

The death penalty also comes to mind when considering the infinitesimally narrow conservative definition of being “pro-life.” While I theoretically do not object to the death penalty in cases of murder and where there is zero doubt of the guilt of the accused, the law only requires evidence “beyond reasonable doubt” for conviction, and experience has shown that many people have been wrongly convicted of serious crimes. The Innocence Project is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA evidence. Their website is full of case files that clearly demonstrate the innocence of people who would otherwise have been executed. The recent execution of Troy Davis in Georgia, whose case was called into serious doubt after seven of nine eye witnesses recanted their testimony and after the Georgia State Government conceded that the ballistics evidence used against him was unreliable, shows that our criminal justice system is in need of significant reform. Texas Governor Rick Perry likely permitted the execution of an innocent man, preventing an exculpatory forensics process from taking place. Perry would have allowed the execution of another innocent man were it not for an exhaustive investigation by a news organization.

It is difficult to take someone seriously when they claim to value the sanctity of life yet do not support the kinds of programs that save and sustain many lives. I noted in my last post about Iraq how I attended a pre-Iraq war debate at BYU where it seemed like most in the auditorium were jubilant at the prospect of going to war against Iraq. I wish a deeper, more sincere, and profound “culture of life” existed among conservatives who seem to care so much for the unborn, but yet care so little for many of the living.


  1. Excellent, excellent, excellent post.

    I wish I could shout this entire post from the rooftops! Thank you for writing it!

    You should change pubic to “public” assistance though. It’s kind of awkward.

  2. I have said this same thing, though not as articulately, for many years. The “pro”-lifers value life as long as it is in the womb. Once it is in the world, it becomes immediately devalued from birth until death. Very good article.

  3. Very good article. Even if abortion is legal (which I don’t believe it should be–with some exceptions), we can still provide incentives for people to choose life. Public assistance programs and education are key. While I don’t have the data to back this up, I’m guessing that most abortions occur because people in poverty are afraid they won’t be able to provide for the child, and we as a society can and should lessen this burden as much as possible.

  4. Is there a third alternative? Umm, er, like being against theft (tax dollars taken from one person to whom the money belongs, without their consent and given to another), and murder “abortion) but in favor of helping the poor and underprivileged? Of course there is. It’s called charity. Many Nonprofit hospitals don’t charge for their medical services to the poor. Many charities like charitable foundations, Red Cross, LDS Family services, Catholic Charities, and many other religious groups give freely of THEIR OWN means to help the poor. And, of course, there’s another way to help without using legal plunder. It’s the individual citizen donating his own money to help others in need. I invite the writer of this post as well as each person commenting above to share what they personally are doing for the poor. It is the responsibility of all of us to be generous, and God calls us all to join in, of our own free will, and leave others to make their decision without force and compulsion (government welfare).

  5. Aaron, your post on this topic seems mean-spirited and contains characterizations that are basically misleading and erroneous. You set up a bogeyman that doesn’t exist and then proceed to attack him. People who oppose abortion aren’t automatically heartless zombies who would rather poor children die than have the government help them with tax dollars. I’m quite disappointed.

  6. There are several points in this article I take exception to. The problem with the current political parties in the US today, is that they are so polarized. There are people like myself, who consider ourselves to be conservatives, who vote their conscience on every issue. I oppose abortion, yet believe that poor children should be fed, clothed and given medical treatment. I put my money where my mouth is, and donate to international organizations that do this. However, the welfare system in this country is broken. Tax dollars are mismanaged, and unethical people use services because they are available, not because they have no other choices. This is not a generalization. I’ve seen it. The “affordable” healthcare act, A.K.A. Obamacare has made healthcare expensive for those who used to be able to afford it, and unavailable to many of our senior citizens, because they are not worth investing in. They are the new throwaway generation. Let’s sugarcoat it and call it end of life counseling. The difference between democrats and republicans, is that dems believe that money should be collected and redistributed through the government, while reps believe that the money should be given in the private sector. Which I believe would be managed better without all of the bureaucracy.

  7. You are right to post your views but I do not share the thought that because a person is pro life or pro abortion they have to fit into a certain political bracket. I also do not like the redefinition of words used in politically correct writing these days. What you are calling progressive was and is a socialistic/communistic form of government tried all over the world and not successful anywhere. The concept of putting an elite group in control of things because they know best how to tax and redistribute other peoples wealth is an oligarchy and not a very progressive and forward thinking system. And how to justify allowing a person to decide the consequences of their sexual acts as anywhere near to compassion I fail to see.

    College education all too often is just the propagandizing of social concepts that shape people into groups. In university many want to think for themselves rather than follow the masses. This would be good but too many are getting side tracked on less important issues that divide people rather than uniting principle oriented solutions that are proven and a solid foundation to build a life belief, science or art system on. The problem may be that many professors like to muddle minds and confuse issues rather than teach principles that are proven and build on that. Education should lift and elevate people and open doors to creativity and provide solutions to problems.

    The Gospel that is taught at BYU and many other universities should offer the solutions that Rick Dalton above gave. The independent and free choice to give and where needed unite with others of like desires to make solutions available to all classes of people. That America became a country of liberty and opened the doors of creativity, inspiration and production is what made America great and allowed the Gospel of compassion to return to this world. This is so much more than if a person who allows abortion or not is compassionate of all concerned but it also gives the answer to that question.

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