Abortion: “It’s the Economy, Stupid!”

This entry shouldn’t even be filed under politics, but it’s an election year and I guess that’s the default category. But it’s so beyond politics.

Sojourners has an article from Dr. Glen Harold Stassen exploring how the number of abortions performed in the U.S. appears to have gone up during George W. Bush’s presidency, after a 24-year low. Read the article. It’s not a conclusive link, but it’s based on available data and written by a pro-life (backed up by life experience) statistician.

The basic conclusion is that more abortions seem to be happening because of economic reasons. Unemployment and lack of health care make having a baby prohibitively expensive, making abortion seem like a reasonable alternative.

My point here isn’t to argue politics or to rag on Bush. I’m not suggesting voting for Kerry would somehow be more pro-life (though that would make a funny argument). But I am suggesting that pro-lifers out there, especially the ones who look at me in shock when I tell them I won’t cast my vote solely based on abortion, need to look at other issues. What good does it do to tighten a few legal reins on abortion if the same government officials follow an economic policy that results in more abortions? Being pro-life has to mean caring about more than just what the law says. It has to mean caring about what happens to real people. And the current economic situation in this country is hurting real people and leading to more abortions. That should be at tragedy.

Pro-life voters, if next week you’ll be casting your votes simply based on the issue of abortion, then I urge you to let your voice be heard that economic policy must also be pro-life.

How sad it seems to imagine a country where a well-meaning and justified pro-life lobby succeeds in banning abortion, only to find a culture of death and loss thanks to economic policy that doesn’t help and nurture life.

Update: Steve Knight points us to a further discussion refuting and counter-refuting Stassen’s statement. And I must have subconsciously stolen Steve’s blog title. Sorry man.

9 thoughts on “Abortion: “It’s the Economy, Stupid!””

  1. Of course, the above requires agreeing with your thoughts on the economic policy. All in the perspective my friend. Good food for thought though.

  2. Hey, you stole my headline!
    http://www.knightopia.com/journal/archives/000431.html

    Seriously, though, Stassen’s research has since been refuted by the National Right to Life Committee. Which he has subsequently rebutted. Anyway, Stassen has been engaged in an interesting dialogue about all of this over on Justin Taylor’s blog, which I’ve summarized and linked to here:
    http://www.knightopia.com/journal/archives/000464.html

    Despite all that, I appreciate the efforts of my friend David Wetzell (http://wetzell.blogspot.com/) to sway evangelicals from casting their votes based on one issue (abortion), as well as other ways of looking at the abortion issue, which are worth considering.

    I’ve also appreciated Tony Campolo’s comments on the abortion issue in his recent PBS interview (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week734/interview.html):

    “I’m not sure that the abortion problem can be solved by legislation. I think it can only be solved through moral persuasion. The churches and the mosques and the synagogues of this country have really failed to convince the American people that this is a sin. And until we do, we shouldn’t be trying to impose our values by law — not because it’s wrong to do so, but because it won’t work.”

  3. Responding to some of the discussion that Steve pointed to, I don’t think Stassen is trying to support John Kerry, at least not in the article I linked to. He never says anything about who to vote for. It’d be rather ridiculous to argue that Kerry is more pro-life than Bush when it comes to abortion. I think the main point here is that pro-lifers need to evaluate all the issues and let their voice be heard, not just in their vote, but in discussions with their politicians.

    With that, I think the Tony Campolo line Steve quoted is right on.

    As far as the economic policies (which Neal hinted at and are discussed in greater depth in the first response to Stassen), sigh. I get so tired debating economics. One side quotes economists as saying tax cuts to stimulate the economy is a bad idea, the other side quotes other economists saying cutting taxes to stimulate the economy is a great idea. Which is it already?

    And I get so tired of debates about economics that center on this massive big picture approach where those who help themselves can make due. A big picture approach is fine, but it’s so easy to loose the important little details. Like the fact that unwed mothers often need childcare assistance in order to hold down a job. Like the fact that denying them childcare assistance means they can’t hold down a job which means they can’t get off welfare.

    It just makes me want to rant and rave and punch things. I get so tired of this capitalist-Christian mindset that somehow free-flowing money will fix everything. I’m not saying the opposite approach, total government control, is the answer. But giving money back to the people and hoping everything works itself out is no answer. That’s why corporate executives get million dollar bonuses. That’s capitalism. I say bah.

    I’ll make a nasty statement here: If abortion is such an important issue to Christians, why don’t they get in the trenches and do the ugly, painful, near-impossible work of stopping it? That doesn’t happen through lawn signs, Republican rallies and get-out-the-vote parties. It happens with the kind of love that can be there for an unwed teenage mother. It happens with the kind of sacrifice that will support a mother considering abortion and adopt her unborn child. It happens with difficult discussions and conversations that are full of tenderness and love. It doesn’t happen with protests. It doesn’t happen with T-shirts or bumperstickers. And it doesn’t happen with one more angry op-ed piece.

    Blech. That was an ugly, mean, cold-hearted statement, but I had to get it off my chest.

  4. So let me get this straight. If abortion becomes illegal, the abortion rate will go up because the economy will also get so much worse that people will have to kill their fetuses to survive?

    Umm…

  5. Oh, and I agree with your “It happens with the kind of love that can be there for an unwed teenage mother…” statement. But not the “It doesn’t happen with…” section. Because it happens with both.

  6. Heh, I dunno about angry op-ed pieces, but I’ll go along with Josh. You need arguments, statements, etc. for the worldview, as well as getting in the trenches and following through on that worldview. Many conservatives have gone after one too hard (and often in the wrong way, imo) and not done enough with both.

  7. Josh, what are you talking about? It sounds like you’re trying to pull a directly proportional, mutal relationship between abortion and the economy out of that article. And I don’t think that works.

    And I’d like to see what angry op-ed pieces and t-shirts and protests are doing. Sure Neal, reasoned arguments are helpful, but not angry rants. Let’s pull the Jesus card: I don’t remember Jesus protesting the prostitutes or slapping a sticker on his donkey that said “Pro-Samaritan.”

    What good is a protest that guilts one mother into seeking another option if it hardens the resolve of hundreds of others? I’m tired of Christians claiming to be pro-life and using simple, easy statements as part of their pro-life cause. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, protests, angry op-ed pieces, a pro-life vote. These are all the easy way out. Maybe they do some good, but how much sacrifice and love are you really putting into it? Wouldn’t want you to get your hands dirty. I want to see less of these showy, easy way out solutions, and more of the difficult, painful, one-person-at-a-time steps that will actually change people’s lives.

  8. Hmmm, I believe you missed my point entirely (you did see the part about “I dunno about angry op/ed pieces” right? That means I don’t think we need them). Accepted worldview is very important, and it’s at the heart of what people are saying we can’t legislate morality. We have to get people to agree with our morals outside of legislation of their own free will.

    To do so requires two things, imo. You’re always shocked about this, but there is a need to publicly announce your position, even if you’re in the majority. So, DEPENDING on what your bumper stickers, your protests, etc. say, this can serve that purpose. I’m not saying that we need bumper stickers damning baby killers or anything like that, but you do need loud and public ways to get your position across.

    You can do this without being vitriolic, burning clinics, etc. You do need to be forceful, and hold to your opinion even if others disagree.

    But THEN you need to follow up on that, as you said, and I have, and get your hands dirty. You have to reach out and practice what you preach, give women options, aid, etc.

    Jesus may not have had bumper stickers, but he had plenty of other ways to advertise and get his message across. He used the methods of his day, and Christians of today should use everything they can to follow through on this issue, just as he would.

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