For Part 1 of this post go HERE
In part one, I addressed the claim that pro-lifers aren’t truly “pro-life” unless they care for children and adults after birth. The claim is irrelevant and simply excuses not interacting with the pro-lifer’s arguments. It is also demonstrably false.
As one writer over at the Secular Pro-Life blog put it recently, accusations about pro-lifer’s true motives can be tested empirically. So let’s do just that: Do pro-lifers care for “born people” or are our critics right?
American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks points out in his fascinating book Who Really Cares?, it is conservative Christians that tend to be the most compassionate statistically speaking, when a look is taken at charitable contributions and humanitarian behaviors such as volunteering. Brooks lists four variables that can predict charitable giving and volunteering: Affiliation with organized religion, a sense of entrepreneurship, a strong sense of family values, and skepticism about government in economic life. All of these categories are more heavily represented in conservative circles than liberal ones. Since conservatives (Especially conservative Christians) make up the bulk of the pro-life advocates, this can help us determine just how indifferent pro-lifers may be.
Other studies confirm this trend. As a more recent study published by the non-partisan organization Philanthropy Roundtable confirms, conservatives, while having about 6% lower average income than liberals, give about 30% more to charity. Even the Left-leaning New York Times reported in 2018, yes, Republicans (who are generally conservatives) do in fact donate more to charitable causes than their liberal colleagues.
This isn’t all. There are over 2,000 Pregnancy Resource Centers nationwide under the four largest affiliates: CareNet, Heartbeat International, Obria, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. These centers provide educational and legal resources to pregnant women, connection with adoption services, parenting classes, infant and children’s clothing, and even food for women in crisis pregnancies. The National Maternity Home Coalition alone has over four hundred homes that shelter women while they are pregnant, whether they be teenagers or adults, fleeing domestic violence, homeless, or fighting substance addictions. All of these 2000+ Pregnancy Centers and 400+ Maternity Homes exist based on voluntary giving. The notion that pro-lifers only care about “unborn fetuses” is false.
More broadly speaking, the Catholic church, which has formed the backbone of the pro-life movement for decades, happens to also be one of the single biggest charities on the planet. As one report puts it, the Catholic church “operates more than 140,000 schools, 10,000 orphanages, 5,000 hospitals and some 16,000 other health clinics. Caritas, the umbrella organization for Catholic aid agencies, estimates that spending by its affiliates totals between £2 billion and £4 billion, making it one of the biggest aid agencies in the world.”
Far more can be said on this than space allows. It turns out that support for political causes or a particular political philosophy is not the best measure of a person’s moral character. As Brooks notes in his study, for many liberals (which make up the bulk of the pro-choice movement), political activism and moral outrage have become substitutes to real charitable behavior. Votes and taxation have been declared the best way of helping people, but this approach still remains to be proven effective. Writes Brooks,
“Although outrage over the callousness of our public policies toward the poor may produce a sense of moral correctness-and may be justified-it will not relieve anyone’s suffering. Worse yet, if moral outrage is only a substitute for private charity, the needy will become worse off than before” (emphasis in original).
Simply put, being “Truly pro-life” as defined by some critics of the pro-life view may not actually be doing anyone any good. As Dennis Prager rightly notes, we need to stop being motivated by what merely “feels good”, and should be motivated by what actually does good. Brooks again:
“Charity depends on behavior, not on motive. Looking for motives leads to the nonsensical argument that someone who gives nothing but supports the idea of helping others is more generous than a person who donates to charities and causes but who has no apparent great love for mankind. Although this argument might have theological merit, it is not useful for understanding private generosity and its benefits for society. (And it sounds suspiciously like an excuse to not write a personal check).”
Most pro-lifers don’t reject the policies of their ideological opponents out of disdain for those in need. Rather, the vast majority of pro-lifers tend to approach the solutions to social issues offered by their ideological opponents with a degree of skepticism, and for good reason: Given the near disastrous failure of projects like the “War on Poverty” or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs hospitals or other promised social welfare programs, it’s not inherently wrong to be skeptical of grandiose claims on the part of proponents for similar ideas.
The question regarding abortion isn’t “Should we care for the oppressed?” Of course we should. The question is rather “Are the unborn an example of an oppressed group?” The assertion that “pro-lifers only care for fetuses”, even if true, simply begs the question by assuming the unborn are not human. If the unborn are not human, then it is perfectly acceptable to call out pro-lifers for wasting their time on a near non-issue while others are in need. However, if the unborn are human (and there’s little doubt they are) then it is the critic of the pro-life view who must explain their own callousness and support of a grave injustice. Appealing to one’s self-proclaimed social justice record in order to justify killing the unborn is hardly an improvement; in fact, it seems to be the sort of immoral grandstanding for which pro-lifers are being accused.
Photo created by Nancy Wong.
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