I am pro-life and I’m voting for Hillary.
My news feed is full of Christians declaring that regardless of their feelings about Trump’s sometimes immature or unwise words, they are voting for him because he is pro-life and will appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Multiple Christian leaders have come out with strong statements that this is one of the pivotal points in our nation’s history. That the President we choose now will set the tone for our nation’s moral future. And that we should choose Trump – the moral choice for life.
I disagree for many reasons. But perhaps most importantly to you, I disagree that a vote for Trump is a vote for life. Stick with me here.
Let’s say that Trump wins. Let’s say that Trump really is unabashedly pro-life. Let’s say that he immediately replaces Justice Scalia with a pro-life justice. In this theoretical situation, the composition of the Supreme Court would now be four liberals, four conservatives, and one swing vote. Now let’s say another liberal justice dies or retires and another pro-life justice is appointed by Trump. I think I’ve now set up your perfect storm for the pro-life movement. Am I right? This is why you’re voting for Trump, right?
Okay, now what.
Now Texas, or another conservative State, knowing the composition of the Supreme Court, will challenge the abortion restrictions. The case will make it’s way up to the Supreme Court. The court will have to rule seriously and considerately on the issue, whatever the specifics. If all goes well for the pro-life team, new federal restrictions on abortion could be allowed to dictate states’ actions, or the federal government could be told to stay out of individual state’s choice to restrict their abortions by law. Meanwhile bills funding planned parenthood (not for abortions as they already may not, by law, be federally funded for abortions) could be passed in Congress and a pro-life Trump could veto those bills. Theoretically Trump could take executive action that could in some way restrict abortions, although I can’t think of what that would be. This is the best case scenario: some chipping way at Roe v Wade, some changes to how conservative states regulate abortions, some executive actions making abortions harder to access.
In other words, even best case scenario, not that much.
Our President, no matter how pro-life, isn’t going to significantly change our nation’s abortion story. New laws may be passed, old ones may be changed, Roe v Wade may be chipped away at . . . but it will take much more than a pro-life President to stop abortions in America.
This is partly because we don’t have a national consensus against abortion in the way that we do against murder and rape. As my husband says, any law that is going to work must have overwhelming public support, at least in theory. Take the speed limit. Many people speed a little, but most of us still believe the speed limit law as a good guideline for how to live. We agree with it, at least in theory. So we might speed a little but the speed limit works as a guide to keep us all safe.
In contrast, our nation feels more uneasy about restricting women’s current rights than they do about saying that an unborn baby’s life is equivalent to any other human’s. We don’t treat miscarriages the way we do a SIDS death at 3 months old. As a nation, we haven’t come to terms with where life starts or how equal unborn life is.
But whether we are for or against abortion, we can be united on this: even if we think women should have the right to choose an abortion, we all still wish they never had to happen. We wish that no woman was ever faced with an unwanted pregnancy. We wish that no woman had to go through the hormone rise and fall that comes with pregnancy and abortion, we wish that no woman had to experience the pain, the bleeding . . . all of it. All of us, pro-life and pro-choice are for fewer abortions.
So how can we drive down abortions? Not primarily by electing a pro-life candidate. We do it by addressing the needs of children for safety, stability, and education because the children of today are the men and women making choices tomorrow. We do it by providing care for those in crisis. By loving our minorities, our disabled, our youth and our immigrants. We look at the most vulnerable and we help find solutions to their most pressing problems. In order to be pro-life we must be pro-people. We must take action to support people so they will have choices. Legislating the option of abortion away will not change much if these unwanted children are being born to mothers and family systems that are unable or unwilling to love and support them into physical and emotional health.
In this election, I will believe some of us will put salve on our conscience by voting pro-life but we will not be actually impacting those whose very lives we say we fight for.
This seems to me the opposite of Jesus’ approach. He ruled not by law, but by grace. Not through appealing to morality, but by meeting felt needs with his provision and abundance. Yes, the law matters, but it does not bring us life.
I’m voting for Hillary because I believe that the systems that will reduce abortions are the systems that support people, especially the most vulnerable people in our nation. BECAUSE I’m pro-life, not in spite of it.
Just another perspective.