Pro-Lifers Care About the Born, More Than Liberals Know

But they must protest abortion whether they do or not, because saving lives is saving lives.

By David Mills Published on January 23, 2017

The comment makes those of us involved in pro-life work roll our eyes or snort. It’s sometimes said with a furrowed brow and a shaking head, sometimes with a smug gleam of triumph.

You’ve heard it too: Pro-lifers don’t care about children once they’re born. That’s quite wrong. We do, as a matter of a demonstrable fact. But here’s what I think is the even more important point: Even if the charge were true, it would not matter. It’s a dumb criticism. I learned this from the left.

The Protesters at the Soup Kitchens

Facebook friend Leslie Fain doesn’t like it either. When she lived in Baton Rouge, she writes, “the people I knew who were actively involved in pro-life work were the same ones volunteering time to women at the home for unwed mothers.”

They were “the same ones spooning up chili for the homeless at the church soup kitchen, and then spending hours cleaning the place to a shine afterward so others could eat there the next day,” she wrote. “They were the same ones organizing work days to repair the homes of the poor and elderly; helping people on the street, dropping money in the poor box at church, and supporting churches that help people pay their bills in a pinch.”

Then she goes for the jugular: “So if you aren’t seeing pro-lifers caring for ‘the already born,’ maybe take it as a sign you may not be doing enough volunteer work in your community. You definitely won’t see pro lifers helping anyone while you are typing out angry comments about them in the NPR comments section.”

The Pro-Choicers’ Game

Okay, yes, out of the millions and millions of active pro-lifers, some obsess over the unborn child and really don’t care about anyone else. Of course.

But if the pro-choicers want to play that game, we’ll play. Out of the millions and millions of pro-choicers, a lot want unborn children killed so they don’t have to help them after they’re born. Some who say they support women’s rights really mean they want to lower their tax bill.

You could almost say that pro-choicers don’t care about children once they are born. That would be unfair, but not entirely unfair. They set the rules of the game, and by the rules of the game they set, they lose.

Remember Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s observation that “at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” The lawyers who argued Roe v. Wade said the same thing more directly.

I’d bet a small amount that the number of heartless pro-choicers is higher, a lot higher, than the number of obsessed pro-lifers.

For Example, the Catholic Church

Look at the Catholic Church. It’s the backbone of the pro-life movement. As this article from the always useful Public Discourse notes, the Church spends a huge amount of money on a very wide range of social services. The Church takes care of people needing health care, education, housing services. She cares for the young, elderly, and disabled and for immigrants.

Remember the early AIDS crisis? Guess which American organization took care of the most patients and spent the most money on them? Yep. The Catholic Church. St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan became one of the world’s centers for treatment and for research. The Church and hospital spent a huge amount of money treating people with AIDS who couldn’t afford care. The losses contributed to the hospital’s later bankruptcy.

On the other hand, as the authors of the Public Discourse article note: “No major pro-abortion group or institution has taken on a comparable commitment to vulnerable Americans.” You could almost say that pro-choicers don’t care about children once they are born. That would be unfair, but not entirely unfair. They set the rules of the game, and by the rules of the game they set, they lose.

You Have to Protest

Here’s my main point: The charge isn’t true, but it wouldn’t matter if it was. And the liberals who slander pro-lifers should know this as well as anyone.

I grew up in a world where everyone was expected to protest something. Many people I knew wrote frequent protest letters as instructed by Amnesty International. I still think that as free citizens we must protest injustice and oppression.

Saving unborn children’s lives is a good in itself. A very big good in itself. Doing one good thing does not require for validation as a good act doing any other good things. Saving lives is saving lives.

If you’re not protesting, you’re not doing your job. That I learned from the left. Liberals, socialists, anarchists, anarchist-socialists, back-to-nature types, pacifists — they taught me to protest. What did protest mean for them? What is the good leftist model? Exactly what pro-life people do today.

Back then, you might be asked to write a letter to the Nigerian embassy protesting the imprisonment of a Nigerian dissident. No one expected that writing that letter meant that you had to send money to support his family while he was in jail. You were pursuing a specific action for a specific end, and that end was good in itself. Getting the man out of prison was just a good thing to do.

This was the position of good leftists and liberals. They still believe that. You see it when people ask a governor to save a man from execution. No one expects the protester to give the state money to help cover the man’s life in jail. If someone will be killed soon, the first and main thing you do is try to keep him alive.

A Good In Itself

As the people protesting and praying in front of abortuaries are doing. They want the doctor inside the building not to kill little boys and girls he plans to kill that day. (Personally, by the way, I think that if you want to save the lives of criminals on death row, you should want to save the lives of unborn children in abortuary waiting rooms.)

Saving unborn children’s lives is a good in itself. A very big good in itself. Doing one good thing does not require you to do any other good things. Especially if that one good thing needs to be done quickly and repeatedly. Saving lives is saving lives.

So, yes, pro-lifers do care about the lives of children after they’re born. That anyone can see if he looks. But it’s also irrelevant to the question of what to do for the unborn. We have to get them born before we can care for them.

A P.S. Facebook friend Gail Deibler Finke writes: Pro-lifers “DO care about much more than ‘babies before they’re born,’ but even if they didn’t, they’d still be right. Did abolitionists personally have to take former slaves into their homes, teach them a trade, and set them up in business? Did people who were against apartheid have to move to South Africa and vote? Something is either wrong or it’s not.” I wish I’d thought of the abolitionists as an example.

David Mills is a senior editor of The Stream. After teaching writing in a seminary, he has been editor of Touchstone and the executive editor of First Things. He edits the site Hour of Our Death and writes the monthly “Last Things” column for the New Oxford Review. He is finishing a book on death and dying to be published by Sophia Institute Press.

This article has been revised since publication, a little here and there.

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