Should Pro-lifers be Pro-Vaccine?

The Pro-life movement and Black Americans. The media tends to portray these two groups as very different. And they are. But there are some curious commonalities between the two groups. Most obviously, there are large numbers of Christians in both groups. More surprisingly, these two groups are by far the most suspicious of the COVID vaccine – although for different reasons.

Why do Pro-lifers and Blacks have this vaccine suspicion?

My name is Curtis Chang, and welcome to Redeeming Babel, where our mission is to provide Biblical thinking in a confusing world. In another video, I explained the history behind Black American distrust of vaccination. In this video, I turn to the Pro-life movement.

Pro-lifers fear that the vaccine is connected to abortion. And indeed there is a distant connection. But the consensus of leading Christian bioethicists is that this distant connection should not discourage pro life Christians from taking the vaccine. Pro lifers in fact have strong reasons to be pro-vaccine.

The cell line

To understand why this is the case, one must first understand what a cell line is. A cell line begins with some original cell taken from a human source, and then those original cells get replicated in labs over and over and over, often over decades. The cells that descend from that original cell make up the cell line. It is these descendant cells – the cell line – that gets used in biomedical research.

One of the most important cell lines used in COVID vaccine research is the HEK 293 cell line. No one knows the actual individual identity of HEK 293. The original cells were obtained in the Netherlands in 1973 by Dr. Frank Graham. Dr. Graham has reported that he cannot be sure whether the fetal remains came about through a miscarriage or an elective abortion. But it is quite possible – maybe even probable – that HEK 293 originated from an elective abortion.

For the sake of understanding the pro-life Christian’s worst fears, let’s assume this is the case.

This would mean that COVID vaccine research used cells that if you back far enough, can be trace an ancestry to a past abortion. Keep in mind that the vaccine ITSELF does not contain any fetal cells; it is the research PROCESS that used the cell line. And remember the cell line used today is not the actual original cell taken from a fetus. Those original cells are long gone. The HEK 293 cell line are the descendants of that original cell taken back in 1973.

The HEK 293 cell line has been used not just in vaccine research, but in most advanced medical treatments today. The biggest recent breakthroughs in treatment for diabetes, heart conditions, hepatitis, arthritis, lung disease, cancer and many other diseases all drew upon the HEK 293 cell line. In fact, if someone today did not want to touch the impact of the HEK 293 cell line at all, that person would almost have to disconnect from modern medicine entirely. If you have received any meaningful medical treatment in the past ten years, you most likely have already been impacted by the HEK 293 cell line. None of us can avoid this impact.

And this is where we have to make a key distinction: the distinction between impact and guilt. Impact does not equal guilt.

There can certainly be impact from a past sin. In fact, the Biblical concept of original sin is meant to say that none of us can avoid the impact of past sin. Sin originates a “cell line” of impact, if you will, that can extend down through the generations.  Anyone who has a family of origin where there was abuse or addiction knows that this is true. Past sin makes an impact on subsequent generations.

But impact that gets passed on is not the same as current guilt. Let’s say, God forbid, you had a grandparent who was abusive. This fact will impact your family of origin and probably even you. But this does not mean that you automatically are an abuser. Impact gets passed on. But guilt does not. In the same manner, an act of abortion back in 1973 had a huge impact on all biomedical research, including COVID vaccine research. But this does not automatically make the COVID vaccine guilty.

So, as we think about the COVID vaccine from a pro-life perspective, let me emphasize three key points:

  1. None of the vaccines contain any fetal tissue or offshoot

  2. No actual cell taken directly from fetuses were used in research

  3. None of the vaccines encourage more abortions for medical research

None of the vaccines contain any fetal tissue or offshoot

First, none of the vaccines contain any fetal cells or even any descendant cells. None of the vaccines contain the HEK 293 cell line itself. To repeat, the research process for the vaccine relied on the cell line, but the vaccine itself does not include the cell line. When someone gets injected with the vaccine, they are NOT getting injected with any fetal tissue or any cell line originating from fetal tissue.

No actual cell taken directly from fetuses were used in research

Second, no actual cells taken directly from fetuses were used in the research. When we talk about how the HEK 293 or other cell line were used in vaccine development, remember that we are not talking about the actual cells from an abortion that happened decades ago. The HEK 293 cells used today in labs are not the original cells. Those original cells are long gone. The cell line are descendants (usually modified at that) of those original cells.

The analogy I like to use is the railroad lines that connect my home state of California to the rest of the country. Most goods that we Californians import today from the rest of the country come to us on railroad lines that were originally laid down in the building of the First Transcontinental railroad. That origin story is filled with racist treatment of the first Chinese Americans, my ancestors. They were discriminated against horribly, given the most dangerous jobs, and were periodically lynched by mobs, like in the horrible Rock Spring Massacre.

Today’s transportation lines into California are like the fetal cell lines that developed the COVID vaccine. They are not evil in their current state and usage, but they run on tracks that follow lines first laid down by previous institutional sin. And none of us can avoid being touched by those lines.

None of the vaccines encourage more abortions for medical research

Finally, it is important to emphasize that none of the COVID vaccines encourage more abortions for medical research.

In fact, the fact that HEK 293 has been so widely studied and used for decades means that most researchers rely on it and other long established cell lines. They are not motivated to obtain new cell lines from new fetuses. And government regulations strongly discourage any researcher trying to do so, especially from aborted fetuses. This point is key to the difference between impact and guilt. Because it means that current vaccine research, while it has been impacted by past abortion, is not guilty of promoting current abortions.

All of these facts have led to a consensus among the leading Christian bioethicists. The consensus is that Christians – including pro-life Christians – are encouraged to take the COVID vaccines. The Vatican – which as studied this issue extensively – has given its approval. The president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has similarly approved. Leading conservative bioethicists, like those associated with pro life foundations such as the Heritage Foundation have also joined in the approval.

I agree with this chorus of thinkers. I believe that every pro-life Christian should take the COVID vaccine.

Imaging redemption

Indeed, I suggest that the COVID vaccine can serve as an image of God’s redemption. Redemption is God’s ultimate answer to the problem of original sin. Redemption is taking something that originated in a wrongful state, and reworking that thing into something good. The Bible tells us that in his death and resurrection, Jesus redeemed human sin.

1 Corinthians 15:22 puts it this way:

“For as all die in Adam, so also all shall be made alive in Christ.”  

1 Corinthians 15:22

In other words, Adam’s original sin had an impact on us all. We are descendants of his spiritual cell line, so to speak. But the origins of that spiritual cell line, that began in death, is not the final verdict. The spiritual line of Adam has been reworked by Jesus. What began as a story of sin and death has been reworked into a story of forgiveness and life. That is what it means to be “made alive in Christ.” That is redemption.

The idea that what began in death could be reworked into life is hard for the human mind to grasp. This is why we need images of redemption in the world. We need examples that can serve as metaphors of what Jesus accomplished, that show us, “Jesus’ redemption is kind of like that…”

I propose that the COVID vaccine is an image of redemption. Yes, the vaccine may have a distant origin story in abortion. But that past has been reworked and redeemed into something that saves life. We can point to the vaccine and say, “Jesus redemption is kind of like that.” And indeed, the production of a vaccine in less than a year is really a miracle. Something like this has never happened this quickly. I personally believe God’s redemptive power was present in the process.

My invitation to Pro-life Christians who distrust the COVID vaccine is this: please remember that the Christian story is the story of redemption. Every one of us has a origin story in sin. None of us can avoid this. Yet each one of us has had our story reworked by Jesus into new life. That’s what it ultimately means to be pro-life. To be pro life is to be pro redemption. And to be pro redemption, in my view, means being pro vaccine.

The vaccine is ultimately a redemption story. Let’s be part of that story.

Why are conservatives pro-life?

No they’re not.

They’re pro-birth.

Once that kids pops out of its mom, they’re on their own.

Because clearly this is how Jesus would’ve liked his followers treating the poor and downtrodden, by shitting on them and blaming them for their poverty, whilst doing nothing to actually help them escape the trap of poverty.

“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or ‘Sit here at my footstool.’ Have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”-James verse 2:2-4

Perhaps conservatives need reminders? 15 Bible Verses About Helping the Poor You Need to Know (luke1428.com)

9 Quotes From Jesus On Why We Must Help The Poor – THE BORGEN PROJECT (borgenmagazine.com)

It’s sad when Pagans like me, have values more closely related to Jesus, than actual self-proclaimed “Christian traditionalists”. That’s just sad.

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A lot of typical liberal backwards logic posted in these replies so far , based on emotional response and excusing selfishness.

The answer to your question is explained with the word conservative…..to conserve , to protect something important from harm or destruction. We protect the innocent unborn who are unable to speak for themselves because of their situation. Protect the sanctity of life from its beginning and its will to survive. Preserve and protect traditional values when so many want to destroy them out of ignorance. We stand for individual liberty , but not at the expense of snuffing

… (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

Thanks for the A2A. I think it’s a misnomer that is common. We’re so used to having conservatives in this country that we forget they are mostly gone. But let’s go with your question.

It was not originally a Republican position. The Eastern Republican Party had little to do with the position that was mostly a Catholic one.

Then, in short, the Republicans saw how they could attract more voters (they were theminority party at the time) if they found a way to include Southern Democrats better than the Democrats did. Post-Civil Rights Act.

So they did, and along with the Southern Dems came a whole bu

 … (more)

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They aren’t.

If they were, they’d support a strong social security and welfare state, adoption as an alternative, universal maternal care and paid maternal leaves, good schooling and good sexual education and cheap contraceptives. Oh, and they’d oppose death penalty.

Being pro-birth is not being pro-life.

1.4K
4
179
179 comments from Alexander Finnegan and more

Not all conservatives are pro-life. Here in the US, pro-life is a position that has been adopted by the Republican Party. A conservative supports a party that represents the best chance of delivering the greatest number of conservative policies. He/she believes, overall, that conservative principles are best for the country and of the two major parties, the Republican Party is best positioned to deliver . Like all political affiliations, left and right, members agree with some of the positions and disagree with others.

Now if you asked, “Why does the Republican Party adopt a pro-life position?”

 … (more)

2

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

The easy answer in American politics is that of the culture war.

After WW2 in the West, there was a general feeling among intellectuals of the right and the left that there was something wrong in the modern world that had led to so much death and lost of human life. That the ideas, beliefs and principles that had driven the west since the time of the enlightenment were fundamentally flawed. Looking for new solutions, you started to begin to see the left and right diverge.

On the left you began to see a push towards what is today called postmodernism. This was a collection or set of ideas that em

 … (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

They aren’t. They are anti choice. The “pro life movement” is founded in two things the right excells at. Men telling women what they can and can’t do and religion telling people what they can and can’t do. Science isn’t behind the anti choice movement, a great deal of philosophy isn’t behind anti choice, and the Bible itself is completely silent on the subject of abortion (unless you count the times God commands the Israelites to cut babies from their mother’s wombs as pro abortion) but the right is anti choice. They don’t care about a childs’ quality of life as long as the women pump out tho

 … (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

During the Reagan administration, one of his political advisors named Karl Rove, you may remember him, worked on political strategy with Reagan. Remember that Reagan made Nixon’s strategy of switching the Republican party’s voter base from primarily urban to rural. It was determined that rural voters could be made to respond to a wedge issue of abortion. That started the Republican love affair with saving fetuses. Meanwhile, the US infant mortality rate soared and is to this day a scandal that is getting worse; proof that Republicans don’t care about babies; they only care about votes.

Abortion

 … (more)

22
1
12
12 comments from Samuel Liu and more

They aren’t.

They are pro-forced birth.

If they were authentically “pro-life”, they would oppose both war and the death penalty. They would work to reduce the more than 50% of our discretionary spending that goes to the Pentagon. They would support programs that provide healthcare and nutritional support to impoverished communities. They would support universal healthcare as a basic human right. They would support measures to reduce and mitigate climate change, which could kill millions in the future.

The fact that such measures are almost universally OPPOSED by conservatives puts the lie to the

… (more)

6
3
3 comments from Daniel Black and more
Why is it so hard for people who are pro-life and pro-choice to see the other side’s view?
To all the pro life people out there. Why is it that pro life people preach that life starts at conception but they are more angry at late term abortions? Do they think there is a difference between a 12 week abortion and a 40 week abortion?
If pro-life conservatives truly value and respect the constitution, why don’t they legally support pro-choice policy and support their pro-life beliefs by praying for the mothers? Isn’t that the best of both worlds?
How do pro-choice people view pro-lifers?
Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Why?
What do pro-choicers not “get” about pro-lifers?
Why do some pro-life women have abortions and profess to still be pro-life?
As a liberal, do you understand why conservatives are pro-life and against abortion?
If pro lifers don’t support the right to abortion, why don’t they just not get one and leave the ones that do alone?
Why should I be pro-choice or pro-life?
Ask question

Once that kids pops out of its mom, they’re on their own.

Because clearly this is how Jesus would’ve liked his followers treating the poor and downtrodden, by shitting on them and blaming them for their poverty, whilst doing nothing to actually help them escape the trap of poverty.

“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or ‘Sit here at my footstool.’ Have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”-James verse 2:2-4

Perhaps conservatives need reminders? 15 Bible Verses About Helping the Poor You Need to Know (luke1428.com)

9 Quotes From Jesus On Why We Must Help The Poor – THE BORGEN PROJECT (borgenmagazine.com)

It’s sad when Pagans like me, have values more closely related to Jesus, than actual self-proclaimed “Christian traditionalists”. That’s just sad.

7
5

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

A lot of typical liberal backwards logic posted in these replies so far , based on emotional response and excusing selfishness.

The answer to your question is explained with the word conservative…..to conserve , to protect something important from harm or destruction. We protect the innocent unborn who are unable to speak for themselves because of their situation. Protect the sanctity of life from its beginning and its will to survive. Preserve and protect traditional values when so many want to destroy them out of ignorance. We stand for individual liberty , but not at the expense of snuffing

… (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

Thanks for the A2A. I think it’s a misnomer that is common. We’re so used to having conservatives in this country that we forget they are mostly gone. But let’s go with your question.

It was not originally a Republican position. The Eastern Republican Party had little to do with the position that was mostly a Catholic one.

Then, in short, the Republicans saw how they could attract more voters (they were theminority party at the time) if they found a way to include Southern Democrats better than the Democrats did. Post-Civil Rights Act.

So they did, and along with the Southern Dems came a whole bu

 … (more)

4

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

They aren’t.

If they were, they’d support a strong social security and welfare state, adoption as an alternative, universal maternal care and paid maternal leaves, good schooling and good sexual education and cheap contraceptives. Oh, and they’d oppose death penalty.

Being pro-birth is not being pro-life.

1.4K
4
179
179 comments from Alexander Finnegan and more

Not all conservatives are pro-life. Here in the US, pro-life is a position that has been adopted by the Republican Party. A conservative supports a party that represents the best chance of delivering the greatest number of conservative policies. He/she believes, overall, that conservative principles are best for the country and of the two major parties, the Republican Party is best positioned to deliver . Like all political affiliations, left and right, members agree with some of the positions and disagree with others.

Now if you asked, “Why does the Republican Party adopt a pro-life position?”

 … (more)

2

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

The easy answer in American politics is that of the culture war.

After WW2 in the West, there was a general feeling among intellectuals of the right and the left that there was something wrong in the modern world that had led to so much death and lost of human life. That the ideas, beliefs and principles that had driven the west since the time of the enlightenment were fundamentally flawed. Looking for new solutions, you started to begin to see the left and right diverge.

On the left you began to see a push towards what is today called postmodernism. This was a collection or set of ideas that em

 … (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

They aren’t. They are anti choice. The “pro life movement” is founded in two things the right excells at. Men telling women what they can and can’t do and religion telling people what they can and can’t do. Science isn’t behind the anti choice movement, a great deal of philosophy isn’t behind anti choice, and the Bible itself is completely silent on the subject of abortion (unless you count the times God commands the Israelites to cut babies from their mother’s wombs as pro abortion) but the right is anti choice. They don’t care about a childs’ quality of life as long as the women pump out tho

 … (more)

Profile photo for Tim Langeman

Add Comment

During the Reagan administration, one of his political advisors named Karl Rove, you may remember him, worked on political strategy with Reagan. Remember that Reagan made Nixon’s strategy of switching the Republican party’s voter base from primarily urban to rural. It was determined that rural voters could be made to respond to a wedge issue of abortion. That started the Republican love affair with saving fetuses. Meanwhile, the US infant mortality rate soared and is to this day a scandal that is getting worse; proof that Republicans don’t care about babies; they only care about votes.

Abortion

 … (more)

22
1
12
12 comments from Samuel Liu and more

They aren’t.

They are pro-forced birth.

If they were authentically “pro-life”, they would oppose both war and the death penalty. They would work to reduce the more than 50% of our discretionary spending that goes to the Pentagon. They would support programs that provide healthcare and nutritional support to impoverished communities. They would support universal healthcare as a basic human right. They would support measures to reduce and mitigate climate change, which could kill millions in the future.

The fact that such measures are almost universally OPPOSED by conservatives puts the lie to the

… (more)

6
3
3 comments from Daniel Black and more
Why is it so hard for people who are pro-life and pro-choice to see the other side’s view?
To all the pro life people out there. Why is it that pro life people preach that life starts at conception but they are more angry at late term abortions? Do they think there is a difference between a 12 week abortion and a 40 week abortion?
If pro-life conservatives truly value and respect the constitution, why don’t they legally support pro-choice policy and support their pro-life beliefs by praying for the mothers? Isn’t that the best of both worlds?
How do pro-choice people view pro-lifers?
Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Why?
What do pro-choicers not “get” about pro-lifers?
Why do some pro-life women have abortions and profess to still be pro-life?
As a liberal, do you understand why conservatives are pro-life and against abortion?
If pro lifers don’t support the right to abortion, why don’t they just not get one and leave the ones that do alone?
Why should I be pro-choice or pro-life?
Ask question

 

Short answer:

From Roe v Wade, January 1973, until roughly 1979, conservatives, including and especially evangelicals, were virtually silent on the decision. Six years and not a peep, at last in opposition. The Southern Baptist Convention actually issued a statement of support for Roe (which they have since repented of). In the late 70s, a man named Francis Schaeffer, an otherwise brilliant theologian and apologist, who really thought the ruling was an execrable legal decision (with which I personally concur), joined forces with the Republican party to bring attention to the abortion issue. Recent medicine and science had made major breakthroughs in the area of when human life—“personhood”— began, and Schaeffer sincerely felt abortion on demand was equal to the Holocaust. *

Meanwhile, another issue was stewing among the right: Bob Jones University and hundreds of so-called “Christian academies,” private schools set up to skirt anti-segregation laws, were about to lose their tax exempt status under the Carter (Democrat) Justice Department because of their racist policies (no interracial dating allowed-Bob Jones U.-for example). With Republicans still smarting from the Nixon Watergate scandal, they needed an issue that would galvanize conservative evangelicals—what would go on to become the “Moral Majority”—in opposition to Democrats. Problem was, at this time, most evangelicals, especially southern ones, still tended to vote Democrat. The idea was to use the Bob Jones and Christian academy cases, but that proved problematic as racial tensions were finally ameliorating somewhat in the aftermath of the turbulent 60s. Bob Jones was TOO polarizing.

Enter:

Dead babies. LOTS of them. Nothing shocks the conscience like garbage bins full of dead fetuses and late term aborted babies. But how to motivate Protestants? Frankie Scaheffer, Francis’ son, told NPR,

… The very fact that the Catholics were talking about this meant that maybe it’s wrong, because Catholics can never be right about anything. … Theoretically, because the Catholics were against abortion at first made Dad very suspicious of the issue. …

But his suspicion of it was also mirrored with people like Jerry Falwell and [Pat] Robertson and these other guys who at first said the same thing when he came to them. … Their whole reaction was: “What do you mean? That’s a Catholic deal. Why would we take a stand on that when we believe in contraception and all these other things? Isn’t that part and parcel of the same deal?”

So in the early days of the pro-life movement, most of the religious leaders … didn’t want anything to do with what Dad was doing, because they said: “That’s a Catholic thing. We’re all about Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with the Savior. Why would we want to be sidetracked on this stuff?”

If it had gone slightly differently, we would have had a completely different history of the United States at this point. There would have been no Ronald Reagan, no George Bush, no religious right, no evangelical groups to back these people. It was on a knife edge there in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Could have gone either way.

And I think the reason why the pro-life movement took off and became huge actually had nothing to do with abortion. It became huge because it was, “We’ve got to draw the line somewhere against all this secular encroachment on our religious culture founded by Puritans.” …

A lot of people were just waiting to draw the line somewhere against this rising tide of secularism they felt encroaching on their space. They wanted to fight back. No one had showed them how, because you had to have an issue around which to coalesce, and abortion was a handy issue.

I think what proves my point is the way similar issues have been used subsequently. I mean, what does gay rights have to do with abortion? Nothing. So why are the same people fighting about that and using the same techniques? What does health care reform have to do with euthanasia? Nothing. Why are they using the same thing?

Because the secular culture is going to take your children away; they‘re not going to heaven with you. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere. We have to fight back, so you pick a handy club with which to beat the society around you into submission. …

And if Dad had come down the pike and written a book and passionately had a series of seminars saying that we have to stop our kids listening to rock ‘n’ roll, and we’ve got to get an amendment in the United States Constitution saying, you know, anything with a drum beat has to be made unconstitutional, it may sound crazy, but it could have been that. …

God In America – Interview: Frank Schaeffer

“We sat down with [Rep.] Jack Kemp [R-N.Y.], [Vice President] Gerald Ford, the Bush family, [Ronald] Reagan and other people, and they said: ‘We’ll help you. We believe in this. Just make sure we keep getting elected and we’ll roll Roe v. Wade back.’ …” (Ibid.)

What was a moral issue, a religious one, now became political. I am pro-life (ALL life, and for maintaining that life well after birth). I believe abortion on demand is a grievous evil. I have MUCH to question about the actual “pro-life” beliefs of the Bushes, Kemp, Falwell, Reagan, et. al., at the beginning; they obviously didn’t give much of a damn prior to meeting Schaeffer. But their scheme worked. It has taken almost 40 years, but the seed planted by the Moral Majority is showing fruit. The Right now has the chance to overturn Roe. But I recognize that in a kind of twisted way, the adoption of abortion as a moral/political shibboleth (along with gay rights) set the stage for the pursuit of a kind of Christian “sharia law” to be enshrined in our judicial process. Too many people on the right will say they want strict Constitutionalists on the bench, but what they really want are jurists who will interpret the Constitution through the lens of the Bible. Even as a pro-life, if liberal leaning, Independent Christian, this scares the bejesus out of me.

*Highly recommended article: Harvard Law Journal concludes: The preborn child is a constitutional person

Behind the Scenes: Picturing Fetal Remains

Science Is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost

Making Sense of the New American Right

Keeping track of the Jacksonians, Reformicons, Paleos, and Post-liberals.

I like to start my classes on conservative intellectual history by distinguishing between three groups. There is the Republican party, with its millions of adherents and spectrum of opinion from very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, and yes, liberal. There is the conservative movement, the constellation of single-issue nonprofits that sprung up in the 1970s

  • gun rights,
  • pro-life,
  • taxpayer,
  • right to work

— and continue to influence elected officials. Finally, there is the conservative intellectual movement: writers, scholars, and wonks whose journalistic and political work deals mainly with ideas and, if we’re lucky, their translation into public policy.

I Was an Anti-Abortion Crusader. Now I Support Roe v. Wade.

Over the last decade, I have changed my view on Roe. I’ve come to believe that overturning Roe would not be “pro-life”; rather, it would be destructive of life. I have witnessed firsthand and now appreciate the full significance of the terrible poverty, social marginalization and baldfaced racism that persists in many of the states whose legislators are now essentially banning abortion. If Roe is overturned, middle- and upper-class white women will still secure access to abortions by traveling to states where abortion is not banned, but members of minorities and poor whites will too often find themselves forced to bear children for which they cannot adequately care.

What is “pro-life” about putting a woman in a situation where she must risk pregnancy without proper medical, social and emotional support? What is “pro-life” about forcing the birth of a child, if that child will enter a world of rejection, deprivation and insecurity, to say nothing of the fear, anxiety and danger that comes with poverty, crime and a lack of educational and employment opportunities?

Consider the situation in Alabama. The Alabama Senate approved a measure this month that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state. I know Alabama well. I was arrested and served jail time there for my activism in the early 2000s. While being processed and incarcerated, I met men and women — primarily members of minorities and poor whites — whose daily lives consisted of one crisis after the next. Many of them lacked even the most rudimentary life skills, including what it takes to parent a child. They were in a state of perpetual panic about money, about the bewildering circumstances they found themselves in, feeling victimized by their very existence. Some spoke to me of their children, agonizing over how helpless they felt in providing anything for them.

The experience left me feeling hollow inside. Alabama does have a network of “crisis pregnancy centers,” which offer support for women and their babies. But that support is limited, and should Roe be overturned, those centers will be woefully insufficient to help these women and their families raise and care for their children.

I’d like to think that the churches and pro-life organizations I worked with for those 30 years would provide the necessary tens of millions of dollars, thousands of volunteer hours, extensive social services, medical and dental care, educational support, food, clothing and spiritual assistance. But I suspect — frankly, I know — that they cannot or will not.

No doubt, many of my former allies will call me a turncoat. I don’t see it that way. I still believe that every abortion is a tragedy and that when a woman is pregnant, bringing the child into the world is always ideal. Reality, though, is different from fantasy. I wish every child could be fully nurtured and cared for, and could experience all the wonderful possibilities that life can offer.

You Can’t Be Pro-Life and Against Immigrant Children

What does “pro-life, pro-family” really mean?

.. being “pro-life, pro-family” is not a euphemism for opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. It acknowledges that protecting children, including ones not yet born, often requires protecting and supporting their mothers and families too.

.. He called the policies intrinsically evil. Because it regularly forces children into places where their lives are under threat, Bishop Flores argued, it is “not unlike driving someone to an abortion clinic.”

.. Where is the Susan B. Anthony List?

.. after his nomination, the group promoted him as someone its supporters should vote for. Going well beyond “the lesser of two evils” language, it even made Mr. Trump the keynote speaker at its annual gala last month.

.. This presents a real threat to the broader movement’s capacity to be taken seriously by young people and people of color.

.. If the traditional pro-life movement is to regain credibility as something other than a tool of the Trump administration, it must speak out clearly and forcefully against harming innocent children as a means of deterring undocumented immigration.

These groups have extraordinary access and influence in the White House. They have to use it.

 

Richard Rohr Meditation: Taking Jesus Seriously

We are all “cafeteria Christians.” All of us have evaded some major parts of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): the Beatitudes, Jesus’ warning about idolizing “mammon,” his clear directive and example of nonviolence, and his command to love our enemies being the most obvious.

In fact, I have gone so far as to say, if Jesus never talked about it once, the churches will tend to be preoccupied with it (abortion, birth control, and homosexuality are current examples), and if Jesus made an unequivocal statement about it (for example, the rich, the camel, and the eye of a needle), we tend to quietly shelve it and forget it. This is not even hard to prove.

.. At least one reason for our failure to understand Jesus’ clear teaching on nonviolence lies in the fact that the Gospel has primarily been expounded by a small elite group of educated European and North American men. The bias of white male theologians is typically power and control. From this perspective nonviolence and love of enemies makes no sense.

Because most of the church has refused to take Jesus’ teaching and example seriously, now much of the world refuses to take Christians seriously. “Your Christianity is all in the head,” they say. “You Christians love to talk of a new life, but the record shows that you are afraid to live in a new way—a way that is responsible, caring, and nonviolent. Even your ‘pro-life movement’ is much more pro-birth than pro-life.”

.. Marginalized and oppressed groups have a wealth of insights to offer us in reading the Gospel.

Shane Claiborne: Thy Kingdom Come

What I love about Mother Teresa is that her life was her witness. She wasn’t a champion of unborn children because she wore a t-shirt that said “Abortion Is Murder,” but because she welcomed mothers and children. In essence, she said, “If you can’t raise your child, we’ll do it together.” That’s the kind of embodiment that comes as we seek to marry our beliefs to our actions. As Brian McLaren says, “It’s not just are we pro-life or pro-choice, but how are we pro-active?”