As I have defended the truth of the Christian worldview over the last decade or so, I have been investigating the finer details of the Christian worldview also. It is not enough to defend a "mere" Christianity, for many skeptics see contradictions between reality and what many Christians believe. We must also investigate and defend these theologically nuanced portions of the Christian faith (for more details on the importance of investigating and defending the details, see my post "Internal Debates and Apologetics").
One the big internal debates that skeptics see as internally inconsistent is the area of ethics and morality. But not just having the proper view of morality, but seeing it lived out in the Christian's life (the issue of hypocrisy in the Church). An accurate ethical system and the consistent application of it are just as apologetically important as defending the essential truths of the Christian worldview. But this goes beyond just those who are intentional with philosophically and scientifically defending the faith. This affects every Christian's evangelical witness. This is why I have been recently addressing defending the correct ethical system (see my review of "Christian Ethics: Options and Issues" by Norm Geisler) and how it should be applied in our lives (particularly in the area of politics; see my review of "Legislating Morality" by Geisler and Turek and my post "How Should Christians Vote In Political Elections"). My attention has been more acutely focused on our moral duty to protect life.
Protecting Life in the Past vs. Today
I have been aware of the pro-life moment since I was in elementary school where one of my teachers was considered a pro-life activist. This teacher would energize the students with stories of the efforts taken politically and culturally to save lives. However, a case for the pro-life position was never presented (at least that I can recall) beyond "the Bible says not to murder." When I was exposed to Scott Klusendorf's "The Case For Life" (click the title for my chapter-by-chapter review), I realized that if I were to be a part of the pro-life movement that I did not have to merely shout conclusions, but I could also make a clear and concise scientific and philosophical case for my pro-life position as reflecting an objective, morally good. One of the quotes that I have highlighted in the book is this:
"For too long the pro-life movement has been shouting conclusions rather than establishing facts. Staying focused on the status of the unborn brings moral clarity to the abortion debate."
That very first sentence really struck me since I am one who prefers to be able to provide a case for what I believe to be true.
A Political Conversation
Over the weekend I was in a conversation on Facebook regarding the topic of abortion. This particular Facebook group tends to discuss the more philosophical side of Christians in politics, so it was a great opportunity to expose the members to Klusendorf's book (and "Legislating Morality" by Giesler and Turek). As to be expected in a Christian group, I was "preaching to a choir" regarding the conclusion that life should be protected by law. Where the conversation turned next, though, brought out another example of a conclusion that cannot simply be shouted: solutions. The discussion quickly moved towards what legislation could be proposed to protect life. Of course, being that at this time, America is in an election year, the issue of what candidates support came up. One commenter, though he was opposed to abortion, was more focused on what could be done to reduce the number of abortions and preserve life until (if) abortion is outlawed.
The Initial Challenge
In my initial defense of life, I seemed to imply that I was proposing the only way to protect life is to make abortion illegal. The commenter seemed to think that I affirm that anything less than total illegalization is worthless. So, he challenged me, not on my case for life but on what creative, legislative solutions I had to offer. Here is his challenge in his own words:
"Perhaps some day abortion will be outlawed again. In the meantime, what are you and your candidates advocating that might actually help accomplish the reduction of abortions? What can be done legislatively to help further that goal? What candidates are advocating for making birth control available for all females of childbearing age? Who advocates for expanding sex education? Who supports healthcare for all so that pregnant women can have a better chance for a healthy pregnancy? What legislative measures can be taken to lower the obscene rate of infant mortality in America? How about housing and care for pregnant women who need it and then making adoption easier? Any creative thoughts beyond outlawing abortion?...1) What are you and your candidates advocating that might actually help accomplish the reduction of abortions? What can be done legislatively to help further that goal? 2) Any creative thoughts beyond outlawing abortion?"
My ResponseMy answer was to offer a single legislation that would result in a dramatic reduction in abortions, just as any legislation reduces any other crime:
"One simple legislation: the recognition that human life begins at conception. This has been established by and will be argued directly from the sciences. Anyone who stands against just a simple scientific recognition by our country's Constitution is just plain anti-science. This will result in a drastic reduction of abortion (which is the requirement you set).
Though no person is naive enough to think that such a law will eliminate abortions. Just as there are still violators of every other law, we expect there to be violators of this one also. However, just as the reality of violators of current laws does not justify removing the current laws, the expectation of violators of possible future laws does not justify not proposing a law and rigorously and scientifically arguing for its passage."He wasn't satisfied with that answer and even dismissed it with a "That's it?". He challenged the support for such a legislation, so I provided him a link to the Life At Conception Act and encouraged him to check with his representatives (and candidates) about support (check National Right To Life) and reading The Case For Life (I had to get in another plug- you really should read this book). Of course, the conversation did not stop there. He wanted me to specifically respond to his proposals in the initial challenge. So I did in a short bullet-pointed list since I was short on time:
- Free birth control for all- I kind of like the idea, but we do need to figure out who will pay. Anyway legislation is really not necessary here. This could easily be privately done now by donation to places where people would go for such support.
- Sex education- If knowledge of the fact that unprotected sex usually leads to pregnancy is not enough to overcome hormones, no amount of education will. I think expanding sex education is a waste for prevention of pregnancy. However, expanding it to include the scientific case for life and information about crisis pregnancy centers and adoption may reduce abortions when it fails to prevent pregnancy.
- Healthcare for all- Better healthcare for all is not necessary. Let's target better healthcare for pregnant women. This is more cost-effective for the purpose we're discussing, and its not as controversial as government-run, national healthcare.
- Housing and care- Crisis Pregnancy Centers already do this. Legislation is not necessary.
- Adoption easier- Absolutely. My wife and I adopted three siblings in Feb, and it was not easy. Perhaps pro-choice legislation that requires Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to offer the choice of adoption as an alternative to an abortion would help reduce abortions. Anyone who opposes this is not TRULY pro-choice, they are actually pro-ABORTION. This is not too far-fetched, since a law was enacted to require pregnancy centers to offer the choice of abortion (click that text if you don't believe me)
These were the responses right off the top of my head. After I had some time to collect my thoughts and reflect more, I added this:
I'd also like to add to my bullets on healthcare for all and housing that there already are government programs for pregnant women (and their support post-pregnancy). So, unless you believe that these need to be changed, new dedicated legislation is not even necessary in these areas.
Here's a link for the Oklahoma's "Women, Infants, Children" (WIC) program that is for pregnant women (not to mention post-pregnancy support)
And speaking of post pregnancy support, a government program even exists for housing for single mothers in Oklahoma:
And let's add health insurance for the kids until they're 18
I'm not sure if these exact programs exist in other states, but if they do, they are there and no legislation is necessary.
Perhaps, your sex education program expansion could also include (as part of the case for life) information about the government support already in place.
One more thing, the company I work for recently took all its employees on a tour of the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank. This is a privately owned and operated non-profit that collects and distributes food to those in need. I saw this place, and was astounded at the enormity of the whole operation. They support pregnant women and kids who are struggling, not just in Oklahoma but, in the whole region.
Again, I don't know if something of this level is done in other states, but if not, there is nothing keeping locals from starting it on their own without the need for legislation first.
While we're at it, we can add that to the information provided in sex education. So when the hormones get going and a pregnancy results, they have the moral, philosophical, and scientific reasons to not abort, but they also know that both the government already has programs in place to help and the community.
When you see what is already in place, you see that we have been taking steps to reduce abortions through the government and through the community. We have been putting bandaids on the wound for decades now.
My question to you is this: when are we going to realize that bandaids are only short-term solutions and only addressing the real cause will solve the problem? When is enough enough? WHEN will it be time to stand up and rigorously and scientifically defend the legislation that I initially proposed?
As of this blog post's writing, he has not responded.
While Klusendorf is correct that we must focus a defense of life on the identity of the unborn, we have to change our focus when the challenger is convinced (or already convinced, as in my case above) that life is to be protected by the law. We need to not only educate ourselves on the case for life, but the more practical side involving the care and support already available to the mothers who have chosen life. Look up the counterparts to the programs I listed above in your own State. Get informed to be prepared to inform. But while we informing to preserve life, as I said in my last comment to the challenger, we need to stop putting bandaids on this wound, we must go to the source. We must legislate to protect life not just preserve it. But the only way to accomplish this in our secular world is to be prepared to rigorously defend the scientific case for life (seriously, go get this book).