I had a good response to my thoughts on voting Libertarian this year. In that, an important question was raised: How can I, a woman who claims to be pro-life, vote for a pro-choice candidate?
It’s simple: I think we’re going about this all wrong.
Gary Johnson is pro-choice in the sense that he doesn’t intend to attempt to change existing laws (which, if he were elected, he wouldn’t have the power to do, anyway). This means that he is not in favor of removing restrictions already in place nor is he in favor of repealing the Hyde Amendment (if I am wrong on that one, correct me). While he is personally opposed to abortion, he does not think he can impose his view on the country.
Does it make me sad that this is the state of affairs in my country? Yes. Does the “safe, legal and rare” line make me roll my eyes? Yes. Do I shake my head that Planned Parenthood managed to avoid abiding by building codes that other medical entities must adhere to? Yes. Do I believe that women have bought into lies when they believe “it’s just another medical procedure” and “it’s your body” and “it’s just a fetus, a blob of tissue”? Yes.
How can I vote for someone who doesn’t see this issue in exactly the same way?
I do it all the time when I participate in presidential elections, when I vote for the person who may send people to war. Am I no longer a pacifist because of that? I don’t think so. All I can do is find the person whose positions are closest to my own. Should I not vote? I’ve considered that, but cannot escape the sense that I have some duty to contribute (in a hopefully positive way) to the direction my country takes.
But I digress.
Here’s the thing: Outlawing abortion won’t change the fact that some women will have abortions.
I believe that the pro-life movement needs to stop with laws and move to hearts. Suppose it suddenly became legal to, I don’t know, punch people over 60 in the face. Suppose the country was fairly evenly divided on whether or not this was a good thing. Would it be a good use of time for opponents of punching older folks to draft legislation? To stage protests outside government buildings? To contribute to years of gridlock while people are being punched in the face?
No. They should go out and convince people that punching older folks is wrong.
People of the pro-life movement need to win over individuals. We need to spend time with scared, angry women. We need to be the support system that they don’t have. We need to throw our weight behind the reformation of Family Court in calling for the enforcement of existing laws. We need to foster and adopt if we are able (not every Christian person is; let’s not get legalistic). We need to cheer on single dads. Instead of wasting our time trying to take down Roe v. Wade, we need to work to change hearts. People need to know that we care about more than just the nine months a baby lives inside the womb. If we would do that, if we would live out a consistent ethic of life, then perhaps our words would cease to ring so very hollow.
God never told us to to dominate society through the force of law.
He told us to serve and to witness.
I know that there are a whole lot of people who are going to disagree with me, and that’s fine. I simply think we need to admit that what we’ve been doing isn’t working. Let it go and move on. Take a page from the conservative Mennonite playbook (they don’t vote but they’re very active in the pro-life movement). Try a different strategy.
Really, try a little repentance. We weep over abortion but say little about the grinding poverty that many single parentss struggle under. We cannot give with one hand and take away with the other. We, the Church, the Body of Christ, need to get busy actually living out the pretty words we spout so easily.
And maybe, just maybe, the laws will flow out of the hearts.
Photo Credit: Hannah Morgan