I begged a childhood friend to shed light on Donald Trump. This was 2016 on the cusp of the presidential election, so I emailed her for insight.
Though he was often portrayed in the media with disdain or as a joke, those of us in the Bible Belt understood his candidacy was not to be taken lightly. And because Trump had a record of blatant misogyny, xenophobia and racist rhetoric, I wanted to understand what was compelling Christians to support him.
My friend responded with compassion, explaining that while she wasn’t keen on Trump as the Republican Party’s candidate, she couldn’t ever justify voting for anyone who supports abortion.
Recalling the way in which our shared context tied our faith ideologies to partisan politics, I was unsurprised by her response. Indeed, many Christians approach the issue of abortion as if it’s as simple as to kill or not to kill babies.
The truth is that this issue is incredibly complicated and layered. In fact, it is precisely because of my faith and because I am for-life that I am compelled to support “pro-choice” policies in our country.
Jesus was also for-life. He wanted people to thrive.
We find proof in how he prioritized joy, rest and healing all throughout the gospels. We find proof in the way he surrounded himself with the least likely people.
Jesus was so radical in his approach to life that he got killed for it. Yet, his own resurrection – his triumph over death – shows us just how for-life Jesus was.
I am compelled to follow this Jesus. I am compelled to follow this Christ who was concerned with the stuff of resurrection.
And yet, in my investigation of the “pro-life” movement, I have discovered very little signs of life.
“Pro-life” is patriarchal because it assumes men (the majority of our political leaders!) ought to make decisions on women’s behalf.
Underlying the movement is the premise that women are evil, not to be trusted, and will make bad choices when given the opportunity. Instead of trusting women, patriarchy is sustained and perpetuated via harmful theology that stifles our thriving. This is not for-life.
“Pro-life” is racist because its policies disproportionately harm communities of color and, therefore, do not have our livelihoods in mind.
According to the 2020 census, nearly 20% of Black people and 17% of Hispanic people living in the United States were living below the poverty line, compared to 8.2% of white people. And Native Americans have the highest poverty rate among all minority groups.
“Pro–life” is classist because the poorest, most vulnerable communities are impacted by its effects.
For example, Senate Bill 8 remains in effect in Texas, banning abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy and allowing citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who “aids or abets” someone getting an abortion after six weeks.
Financially-privileged people are more likely to know they’re pregnant before the six-week mark because of their access to health care resources. Poor families – disproportionately people of color – are forced into situations they cannot sustain, with little to no support. This is not for-life.
“Pro-life” is hypocritical because in between these lines lie endless circumstances including, but not limited to, sexual assault and violence.
In these instances, where are the policies creating access to mental health care for mothers coping with ongoing trauma as they struggle to emotionally and physically care for their little ones?
The deeper I dig, the more I believe that the “pro-life” movement in the U.S. is unbiblical.
It is ultimately not concerned with the things of life, which is the marker of the way of Jesus. It does not have a regard for the prisoner on death row, for the immigrants and their children, or for those in desperate need of health care.
It places barriers in front of the physicians, clergy, social workers and so on who work to provide for-life services and support for those in need. Unlike Jesus, it does not care about the least of these.
Instead, politicians in favor of it often hijack Christian theology and use it to manipulate well-meaning people of faith. All for the sake of winning elections.
In my humble opinion, this is a misuse of our divine responsibility to the things of life as Christ-followers.
I don’t expect every Christian to agree with me. But, at the very least, can we agree that most of us want more of the things of life and not less?
Statistically, more abortions occur in countries with strict abortion bans and less abortions occur in countries where abortion services are supported.
These resources often offer so much more than abortion services, also supplying preventative care and other support for low-income mothers. One might even say these services are for-life, not against it.
So-called “pro-life” policies are damning to those most marginalized in our society. But “pro-choice” policies tend to create more equitable opportunities for these groups – opportunities that would ultimately result in more life because they are for-life.
As a follower of Jesus, we are called to follow in his way. Namely, we are called to get political, particularly when those most vulnerable are affected by oppressive policies.
For this reason, I can no longer be silent. I must add my voice to the chorus of faith leaders supporting reproductive justice and a woman’s right to choose.