Every time I see an objection to the President’s behavior or policies, if conversation carries long enough (and sometimes that’s not very long at all) someone mentions abortion. “Do you know of another viable pro-life candidate?” or “well, at least he doesn’t believe in killing unborn babies” or whatever.
Setting him aside for a minute (which isn’t easy, since he’s been sucking up all the air in all the rooms since 2016), let’s talk about this for a minute. Do I really plan to vote for someone who isn’t pro-life? Yes. Yes I do. And I think you might be free to do the same.
I have known the excitement and terror of positive pregnancy tests. I’ve felt babies grow to displace most of the vital organs in my body. I’ve known the visceral emptiness of even the earliest miscarriage. Yes, those fetuses are human. They’re definitely alive, with all the possibility and potential pain life entails. I’m aunty to a baby born just past viability grow and thrive (she’s two and looks a lot like my baby brother) and I’ve held a baby (this one a nephew) born still and far too cold at a similar gestational age and identical weight.
I am decidedly for these babies.
The reasons I don’t want this year’s incumbent to win a second presidential term are too numerous and layered to explore here today, and others do it better anyway. I’ve talked to many people who’d like a different candidate, but plan to vote for him again because he’s the only one in the field who will “defend life.”
I understand it, but here’s why I don’t plan to join them:
Abortion has been declining (relative to population) at a steady rate for about four decades. It doesn’t seem to matter at all who the President is; it keeps dropping. Reasons for the decline aren’t completely clear: it’s obvious that state policy has more impact on abortion availability, but since the rate drops in states both with and without new abortion restrictions, that clearly is not the only factor.
This math alone frees me to consider other candidates, but there’s more:
75% of recipients of abortion are poor, compared to 12% of the general population.
Abortion is a symptom of poverty.
People yell, “YES BUT THE ECONOMY” as a defense for Trump’s behavior and I will grant the poverty rate is down a bit over the course of Trump’s presidency which has doubtless spared some babies, but the poverty rate hasn’t changed in a statistically meaningful way since the 70s. While I’d love for someone to come up with a way to actually address this so we don’t have generations of people who can’t get and stay above the poverty line, what if we made abortion feel less necessary for women who are poor? What if we did better at pregnancy prevention for those who feel they aren’t in a place to raise a child and childcare for those who might be?
And, in all honesty, I think the democrats are more likely to pull that off than the incumbent. So, yes. Every one of the candidates in the running for the democratic nomination identifies as pro-choice. Even so, I suspect the number of dead babies will go down if we can address some of the underlying factors.
a footnote on socialism
“BUT SOCIALISM” is the other cry of the Right when defending the President. The argument goes like this: “Well, it’s better than having a socialist in office.”
Uh… okay. I’m not going to argue in favor of socialism now (or maybe ever). I’m too white, privileged, and middle class for that—I have money to lose with every step toward socialism. But what I don’t see is why the visible Evangelical church defends this as a moral issue. I have yet to see any biblical basis for pure capitalism as the right way. If anything, the systemic and moral obligation to care for the widow, orphan, poor, and foreigner seems to argue against it. The closest I’ve heard when I’ve asked for a biblical reason to vote against socialism went something like this: “Well, do you want ‘death boards’ deciding who does and who doesn’t get life-saving medical treatment?” No, not particularly, but I’m not sure it would be worse than insurance companies doing the same, or just giving the life-saving treatment to those who have means to pay for it. I’m not sure a “death board” would be more arbitrary.
So no. I’m not going to use my one 2020 presidential vote to vote against socialism, either.
I’m not here to convince people who are firmly pro-Trump that they should suddenly vote pro-choice. Go ahead and vote for whomever your conscience dictates. (I plan to.) I’m actually not here to argue at all. I’m just here to lay out my own research and conclusions in hopes that the handful of single-issue pro-life voters who can’t bring themselves to vote for a second term for this present based on behavior, policies, or tweets might consider other (possibly more effective) ways to protect the unborn.
I can survive voting for someone who stands for policies I don’t believe are best, who believes differently than I do about the role of federal government or guns or anything else. (In fact, I assume I’ll disagree with any candidate on something.) I cannot bring myself to cast a vote (or withhold one) to elect someone who stands against everything I am.
photo credit: Sarah Lewis Photography