Is the Pro-Life Movement Truly Pro-Life or Just Pro-Birth?

June 18, 2019

The anti-abortion movement pays lip service to caring for women, but there is only one thing they care about: the unborn. I care about all lives.” (USA Today op-ed – May 14, 2019)

With abortion legislation in the news every day, the country is once more debating the issue of life. One recurring point brought up by politicians, celebrities, and pro-choicers is that the pro-life movement doesn’t truly care about life at all stages—only unborn lives.   

In their opinion, pro-lifers are not worthy of the “pro-life” label unless they also support single-payer healthcare. They argue that once a child is born, pro-lifers are nowhere to be seen. They also point to a ridiculously expensive and long adoption process and broken foster care system to prove the neglect of children once out of the womb. In their eyes, the mere fact that many pro-lifers support the second amendment and oppose single-payer healthcare disqualifies them from really being “pro-life.”

However, these accusations are unwarranted and do not discredit the central premise of the pro-life movement: fighting for the lives of unborn babies by opposing abortion.

In fact, there is a wide array of diversity within the pro-life movement. There are pro-life groups for Democrats, secularists, feminists (here and here), and many other demographics of people that do not fit the stereotypical “pro-lifer.” The pro-life movement is about stopping abortion. There is room within the movement for differing beliefs on other issues that are not tied to abortion.

Let’s take a look at three common objections to the pro-life label being used for those who oppose abortion.

1. “You’re not pro-life if you oppose single-payer healthcare.” Many in the pro-life movement have been attacked for opposing single-payer healthcare. However, this is not an indicator of how much the pro-life movement cares about life. The pro-life movement can oppose abortion without having to take a stance on how best to solve our nation’s healthcare problems.

There are a variety of proposals to address access to quality healthcare, and people of good faith can disagree which one is best. But, no one who considers herself or himself “pro-life” can do so in good faith while also supporting a healthcare system that funds the destruction of life in the womb.

The pro-life movement does offer an enormous amount of support for mothers and their children through a wide array of pregnancy care centers and homes for mothers in need. There is still work to be done and improvements to be made, but in no way does the pro-life movement need to advocate for socialized healthcare to be considered “pro-life.”

2. “If you’re really pro-life, you would foster and adopt.” The assumption that pro-lifers don’t foster or adopt is untrue. In fact, the pro-life community has long taken adoption and foster care seriously. Many pro-lifers want to give kids in need of loving homes a family. Christian organizations are responsible for many adoption agencies and orphanages.

Alabama is a great example of this. After passing one of the strongest pro-life laws in the nation earlier this year, they set a record for the highest adoption rates in the country. This shows that the accusation that those who are pro-life don’t care about babies after they are born is not reflected in reality.

Please don’t misunderstand me—there is still much to be done to ensure children are put in loving foster and adoptive homes. But, as someone who has an adopted brother, my family and I can personally attest to the beauty of adoption and the ways that God has used it to form our family.

The pro-life movement should flatly reject any insinuation that simply because there are children in need of loving homes or that the adoption system needs improvement, that they don’t care about children after birth. While it is true that there are many injustices that need to be addressed in the world besides abortion, abortion remains the most fundamental injustice because without the right to life, no other rights are even possible.

3. “If you’re pro-life, then you can’t support unrestricted gun rights.” Guns themselves are amoral—they can be used for good or for evil. I have never met someone who supports the second amendment because they want more gun violence. It is always because they think that gun control is not effective for those who already clearly disregard the law.

The pro-life movement is a big-tent movement. All pro-lifers can agree that taking innocent life in an abortion is morally wrong; the extent to which the second amendment rights of Americans ought to be protected is another matter entirely.

The gun control debate is not about how highly we ought to value life; rather, it is about how to best preserve life. Policies regarding gun control are complicated because they are not only about ideology—they are also about enforcement and practicality. Thus, opposing gun control is not a hypocritical inconsistency for a pro-lifer.

Defending Those Who Have No Voice

By arguing that the pro-life movement isn’t really “pro-life” unless it also embraces a wide swath of the progressive agenda, pro-choicers avoid a real discussion about what abortion really is. All of the issues we’ve discussed are post-birth. None of these issues would even be worth discussing if life itself wasn’t valuable and worth fighting for.

The pro-life movement is not one that wants to control women’s bodies or take away healthcare or any other sort of nefarious motivation. Rather, the pro-life movement seeks to defend the lives of babies in the womb who have no voice.

Let’s not treat abortion the same as these other issues. Abortion is literally a matter of life or death for innocent babies. While important, these other issues are secondary because they are all in regard to life that is already outside the womb. Each of these concerns deserve our thoughts and attention, but they must not be equated or treated with the same level of urgency as abortion.

It should go without saying that the most foundational right of any society is the right to life. Healthcare, the adoption and foster care system, and the second amendment aren’t concerns for the 60 million children who have died from abortion.

Ultimately, it’s not an “either-or” issue. I have yet to meet a pro-lifer who advocates for unborn babies but who has no regard for other lives. We can do both.

I strongly believe that abortion is wrong, but that does not mean that I care any less for mothers or children who have been born. In fact, I believe that mothers are also victims of the abortion industry and that we must do all we can to love and support them. One reason I feel so strongly about the pro-life movement is because I have personally seen the way that abortion hurts mothers and families. My mom is one of those mothers and my family is one of those families.

When we fight against abortion, we are also fighting for mothers and families. Let’s not lose sight of what’s truly important and get bogged down in a war of words about who is really “pro-life.” Now is the time to make a difference and be the generation that ends the tragedy of abortion.

Alexis Stefani is an intern at Family Research Council.