Would you like there to be 0 abortions this year? Me too.
Since that’s not a reality, would you agree that fewer abortions are better than more abortions? Me too.
Please read with an open mind.
My entire life, I have been staunchly pro-life. That has not changed, and likely never will (unless God suddenly changes His Almighty mind and decides that death is better than life).
All my life, I thought that the binary voting options we are presented with made the abortion issue simple:
Republicans=fewer abortions; Democrats=more abortions.
Christian leaders like Ray Comfort indoctrinated us into thinking that politics were so black and white.
Vote pro-life, good. Vote pro-choice, bad.
You would think this was the case from all the rhetoric employed by the right to get you to vote them. “A vote for the right is a vote for life” or something. And while it may be true that Republican politicians are verbally opposed to abortion, as they see the life in the mother’s womb as a person from conception (as do I), it is not true that they have done the most effective job of stopping abortions from happening.
If you look at some statistics on the number of abortions performed, the numbers are staggering. To summarize them, the number of abortions performed per 1,000 women dropped significantly under Democratic presidents and either stagnated or only marginally went down under Republican presidents.
I have come to realize that there is a hefty strawman argument employed by the Republicans in order to sway single-issue voters, and it paints an incorrect picture of their political opponents. It goes like this: “Because personhood begins at conception, anyone who kills a human after conception is a murderer. Democrats are not trying to outlaw abortions, so they are evil murderers. They want there to be more abortions!”
In conversing with Democratic friends of mine for several years, I have found the opposite to be true. The truth is, nobody wants there to be more abortions! Even if you don’t believe the fetus is a person, the procedure is risky and dangerous and painful for the mother. Why would anyone wish for more of those operations?
So then the question remains: Why would abortions fall more dramatically under Democratic presidents? The answer is simple. From Bagri:
“Access to contraception is more effective in reducing the number of abortions than regulation that controls access—and under Democratic leadership, access to affordable contraception has increased.”
Let me put it like this:
The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to give out free condoms and make them easy to obtain. One place these could be acquired is at clinics like Planned Parenthood. When people have easier access to the free condoms, they are less likely to get pregnant and therefore less likely to have an abortion.
The Democrats’ way to fight abortion is to make this access to contraception easy and universal.
More free condoms=fewer unwanted pregnancies=fewer abortions.
The Republicans’ strategy is to put more restrictions on these clinics, therefore decreasing the number of free condoms given out.
Fewer free condoms=more unwanted pregnancies=more abortions.
It’s painfully ironic. The question then is, why haven’t Republicans (and by extension, Christians) embraced the method that results in fewer abortions? I think the answer is equally painful and obvious: Because embracing the Democrats’ strategy would mean encouraging extramarital sex (or at least, contraceptive sex) and downplaying the abstinence method.
I am still a proponent of waiting until marriage to have sex; I think everyone should wait for a plethora of reasons. However, at some point we need to admit that we live in the real world, and therefore need realistic solutions, not ideal ones. People won’t magically stop having sex, so shouldn’t we do our best to prevent those accidental knock-ups?
This means asking the question, Which is more important to me: promoting sexual abstinence [to people who aren’t even Christians], or preventing the deaths of more babies?
I believe life and death is more important than monitoring the sexual activity of non-Christians.
I believe we should fight for both, abstinence and a reduction of abortions, but we are simply not there yet.
I am still pro-life and pro-abstinence, but I think our methods need to change.
We can’t expect unwed parents to simply stop having sex, which is apparently what the Right has been hoping for decades. At what point will we wake up and see that reducing the number of abortions is more important than sexual purity? Sadly, in 2019, Planned Parenthood performed a record high number of abortions. Clearly whatever the current administration is doing to combat this issue is not working.
If you are interested in reducing the number of abortions, regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on now, wouldn’t you want to be on the side which has proven to be most effective? This isn’t just an “Obama vs. Trump” debate; these statistics span 40 years and the data shows where the more effective methods have worked.
Perhaps the saddest thing about this whole issue is how many single-issue voters have been cultivated by this false dichotomy. If someone is reading their theology and politics correctly, there should never be one simple answer. Jesus refused to be put into a political category, and I believe we should as well.
However, if you are going to vote based on one single factor, you should at least look at the data and see which side has been the most effective at accomplishing what you’d like.