Why pro-life should mean anti-poverty
Rarely have I quoted someone else’s post in its entirety, but this one has so many excellent and quotable points that I wanted to give it as much daylight as possible. Please do visit God’s Politics and take part in the debate there. They might lose a few visitors by my printing more than an excerpt here – help me make it up to them.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
There is a cruel link between poverty, race, and abortion in America. Unfortunately, many pro-life advocates fail to meaningfully address this connection. Aside from age (the abortion rate is highest among girls under the age of 15) the most predictable indicator of whether or not a woman will have an abortion is her income level and ethnic background.
Before Roe vs. Wade decriminalized the procedure, many American women still had abortions, though the procedure was radically unequal in its accessibility and application. Those with available resources traveled abroad for safe procedures while low-income women relied on dangerous illegal clinics operating in the poorest neighborhoods in America.
As someone who lives and works in such neighborhoods in Washington D.C., I can tell you that simply making something illegal does not keep it from happening if there is a serious demand for it – as evidenced by the rampant drug, weapons, and prostitution trades still plaguing these communities.
I strongly believe in the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death; that all human beings are created in the image of God and are therefore of immeasurable worth. However, I also believe that we should spend more energy advocating policies that might actually reduce the abortion rate and spend less time challenging a judicial precedent unlikely to be overturned.This is especially true if criminalizing the procedure does little to reduce the abortion rate and actually puts more lives at risk, as a recent study and the personal experiences of those who have lived and worked in these district neighborhoods much longer than I have would suggest.
Tackling poverty, providing healthcare for all low-income women and children (especially for prenatal and postnatal care), reducing teen pregnancy by promoting abstinence and making contraceptives widely available, and increasing the child tax credit for low-income mothers and families—all represent solutions that, as part of an integrated approach, would curb unwanted pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions.Americans on both sides of the argument have been trapped in an endless debate. Continuing liberal and conservative politicking has failed to meaningfully address the issue. Meanwhile, the abortion rate essentially stays the same.
This tired exercise continued as the entire lineup of Republican presidential hopefuls addressed the Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C., an event co-sponsored by the Family Research Council Action, Focus on the Family Action, and other conservative Christian organizations.
In a room filled with the would-be kingmakers of evangelical politics, the candidates touched on issues ranging from gay marriage to the future of federalism, but the single issue gaining the most traction with the crowd was clear. Candidates hoping to do well with this audience had to address abortion—specifically, offering their best plan to eliminate it once and for all. I was disappointed to hear the same old polarizing terms that have gotten us nowhere in the past 30 years.
Many people agree that the estimated 3,500 abortions taking place in America every day are unfitting for any caring society. Significantly reducing the number of abortions in this country—ideally to zero—should be an urgent moral priority for those of us who take the sanctity of life seriously.
As we move into the 2008 presidential election cycle, let’s quit demonizing each other and get to work meaningfully addressing the cruel connections underlying America’s heartbreaking abortion statistics. The most important debate is not between “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” but between those who will continue to be demagogues on this issue and those who will choose to pragmatically work together to save unborn lives.
Tags: abortion, conservative, liberal, religious right, family+values, Christian+conservative, evangelical politics, poverty, pro-life, pro-choice, Roe+v+Wade, God’s+Politics, LaTondresse, race, Christian, Monte Asbury
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