February 27, 2019
To the editor:
I was saddened to read Susan Shaw’s recent column that asked: “Can Christians come together to reduce the need for abortion?” Dr. Shaw outlines a very worthy goal, but her approaches fall flat. She posits that pro-lifers and pro-abortion individuals alike should agree on a four-pronged approach to reducing abortion that starts with embracing legal abortion on-demand.
Shaw talks about choosing a “middle ground” on this issue but fails to name a single legal parameter on abortion that she could support – even as states like Virginia, Vermont, and New York have considered or enacted devastating abortion laws that would roll back the most basic protections for our voiceless unborn. Perhaps she could support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation passed through the House of Representatives in Congresses past with bipartisan support to spare viable, late-term babies who can experience fetal pain from abortion?
Or maybe she would endorse the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act which would prohibit sex-selective abortions, a practice that we know disproportionately impacts unborn baby girls? Or what about rerouting some of Planned Parenthood’s annual taxpayer funding – in excess of $500 million – to organizations that provide more adoption referrals?
The author does not say. Instead, she asks the reader to acquiesce to the heartbreaking status quo of legal abortion on demand with vague promises of maybe, possibly reducing abortion long-term.
In 2019, Americans do not accept the idea of continued discrimination and oppression against any other people group on a slightly lesser scale in the name of “reducing” – rather than eliminating – their subjugation and dehumanization, and we should not accept it when it comes to our voiceless unborn.
The column also resorts to a tired, false dichotomy that pits the supposedly anti-abortion “right” against the supposedly pro-abortion “left,” when in fact we know the pro-life movement is far more diverse than this.
This year at the March for Life rally, I stood alongside groups like Secular Pro-Life, Democrats For Life of America, New Wave Feminists and others as we listened to the lineup of speakers, which included two sitting Democratic lawmakers.
As the late former Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey Sr. – a proud progressive – once said, “I didn’t get my pro-life belief from my religion class in a Catholic school but from my biology and U.S. Constitution classes.”
While these omissions are disappointing, the author makes some important points, such as on the need to support access to safe contraception. I am grateful for pro-life lawmakers like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) who have sponsored legislation to allow the sale of certain birth control over-the-counter.
Finally, the column begs the question: if the author does not believe in the personhood of the unborn child, as she suggests with her terminology (“status of fetus,” “reproductive health services”) then why try to limit abortion at all? If we deny science to accept that this debate is about a clump of cells and not a human being created in God’s image and worthy of the utmost respect, then there should be no need to lessen abortion in the first place.
I suspect that, even for those like Shaw, something about this does not feel right, and that is why I hold high hope that we can continue working to reduce the need for abortion – through some of the approaches Shaw outlines, like increasing access to non-abortifacient contraceptives, and others she ignores, like supporting the vital work of pro-life pregnancy resource centers – while also enshrining robust legal protection for our precious unborn.