How We Talk About Abortion, Part 2

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

In my post yesterday, I talked about the need to speak with love and listen to those who stand on the opposite side of the abortion issue. I also suggested we should be doing much more than pursuing a legal end to abortion.

Today I’d like to explore that second part in more depth. Because recently, I’ve heard prolifers say that they shouldn’t be criticized for focusing solely on the legality of abortion.

In many ways, that’s a great video, and I encourage everyone to watch it, in part because it shows that there’s much more commonality between pro-life and pro-choice than we think.

But at the same time, I think it’s incredibly shortsighted to focus so narrowly on legality. I would argue that what she describes is not, in fact, pro-life; it is what the pro-life movement is always criticized for being: anti-abortion.

It’s not enough to be anti-abortion, or even anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, anti-stem cell research, anti-euthanasia. If we want to be pro-life, we should be FOR things. We should be actively, publicly advocating for conditions and institutions that support the ability to choose life.

This means recognizing, admitting, and working to replace societal norms and attitudes that enable the divide between rich and poor, between socioeconomic classes. It means advocating for family-friendly policies surrounding working conditions. It means advocating for a health care system that offers equal access. It means working to equalize educational quality. Because all of those things are pressures that lead to abortion.

We need to recognize that the vast majority of these problems, the ones that cause women to feel they have to gnaw their legs off, as the article said, are too big to be dealt with by individual charitable giving. No matter how personally generous we are, we will barely make a dent in the injustices present in the world.

(Did we naturally desegregate through grassroots efforts to change hearts? Did we end slavery that way? No. Not even close.)

That doesn’t means we shouldn’t give charitably—we should.

But we also have to recognize the need for centralized, i.e. governmental, intervention—yes, even if it means expanding programs and higher taxes. Yes, there are potential pitfalls and complex problems to work out to make it happen in a moral way. Yes, it would be simpler if we could leave the government out of it. But a) we already accept the need to have the government involved—we’re working to change the federal law, aren’t we? And b), small government is not actually anywhere on Jesus’ list of characteristics of the Kingdom of God.

Finally, I want to reiterate the primary point of yesterday’s post: we have to STOP using the “abortion is murder” language. It inflames the discussion, and besides, we’re talking out of both sides of our mouths. We talk about compassion for women in crisis situations, and then we turn around and call them murderers? Really?

Those words hit the other side of this issue—and women in crisis—as fire and brimstone judgment. It’s no wonder the other side throws up impenetrable defenses. We call them baby killers, for Heaven’s sake! When we use language like that, we are the ones closing off discussion and putting barriers in the way of conversion.

That is not how God deals with us. He invites us, he brings us along slowly, he speaks to us where we are and gets us, eventually, to where he knows we need to be.

We’ll never do this perfectly, but that should be our goal.

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