Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

8 Nov 2022

You Really Are Pro-Life, Even If…

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From time to time people try to discredit the pro-life movement by arguing that those involved with it cannot genuinely claim to be pro-life unless they also support or hold other positions. Statements like “If you were really pro-life you would also…” or “You can’t say you are pro-life and also…” are followed by a variety of positions and ideas that the critic believes most pro-life people do not hold. And with this argument, the critic believes he has successfully refuted the pro-life position.

But are these actually valid objections? Though commonly employed, these objections do not truly invalidate the pro-life position. Let’s consider why that is the case.

But before we address some of these objections, it may be helpful to acknowledge that some people who claim to be pro-life are being hypocritical. These hypocrites are mostly politicians and civic leaders, who do not really care about the lives of unborn children but want the support of those who do. These people are not truly pro-life, but they are also an extremely small minority of the pro-life movement.

Additionally, many on the pro-choice side of the debate are also hypocritical. They have very little concern for things like “women’s health” or “a women’s right to choose” since they would happily pressure a woman into seeking an abortion she does not want because they do not want to deal with being a father or having an affair discovered.

But since most objections are not dealing with hypocrisies like that, let’s consider some of the objections to the pro-life position.

Legitimate Inconsistencies

There are some positions which a person cannot hold if they are truly pro-life. The pro-life position is counter to euthanasia, since that is also the killing of a human life. And those who want exceptions for rape or incest are not being consistently pro-life, since those are not reasons to kill a child.[1] But these are not usually the accusations being made.

False Logic

Some objections are actually utilizing flawed logic or creating false equivalencies. For example, some (who seem to have very little understanding of the pro-life position) wonder “how could someone be pro-life and pro-capital punishment?” This question fails to see the foundation of the pro-life argument: it is wrong to intentionally end the life of another innocent human being. Capital punishment is not ending the life of another innocent human being and is almost only used as a punishment for those who have taken the lives of multiple other innocent human beings. That is, the same logic that leads one to oppose abortion can also lead a person to support capital punishment.

The issue of gun control is similar: those who value life also value the ability for self-defense and the ability to protect others.

Strained Logic

Other objections try to tie the pro-life position to various political agendas that at best have a tenuous or strained connection. “If you don’t support child welfare/universal daycare then you are really just pro-birth, not pro-life!” This accusation implies that the only way to demonstrate genuine care or concern for providing for children and families is through governmental programs. But someone can want to see children cared for and believe that the government is ineffective at carrying out this task or that these issues lie outside of the government’s role. Those who oppose these government programs are almost never doing so because they have no concern for human life after birth.

Additional Problems

In addition to the logical problems listed above, the accusation that “you are not truly pro-life unless…” is an illegitimate argument because it is an ad hominem attack and it ignores the heart of the debate.

Ad Hominem

These accusations are an attempt to discredit the person arguing for the pro-life position—but they do nothing against the position itself. Even if all those who were pro-life were inconsistent in how they applied that belief, the belief itself would not be affected. An idea is not invalid because the person who holds it is wrong in regard to another idea.

Focused issue

Perhaps most significantly, the accusation that someone is not truly pro-life is obscuring the real issue: the point of debate is whether or not it is OK to kill unborn children. And a person can be against the killing of unborn children without necessarily offering a solution to any other related issues or problems. You can be against stealing without also offering to cover someone else’s expenses. You can be against pollution without offering to pay for an alternative to dispose of the waste. You can be against human trafficking without offering to provide a home for those abused by it. And you can be against murder without offering to give support to the potential victim for the remainder of his/her life. While it may be better to also deal with related issues (and Christians are already twice as likely to adopt than the general population), stopping the killing of unborn children is a significant enough issue to address on its own.

[1] Some who are fully pro-life might be willing to offer exceptions like this for political expediency—with the idea that it would be better to ban the vast majority of abortions rather than none at all.