When pro-lifers give reasons why abortion is wrong and/or why it should be illegal, one common retort goes something like this:
What are you doing to help those that are already born? Most pro-lifers raise cain about abortion but don’t do anything to help children in need. Once the child is born, they stop caring.
The retort is an emotionally and rhetorically powerful one, and it stops many people short. When it’s examined more in depth, though, it lacks substance.
There is a point behind the challenge, isn’t there? Notice the subtle implication: unless you do something to help children once they are born, you are disqualified from being able to speak about abortion.
My question is: how does that follow? Let’s say that I do absolutely nothing to help children in this world. Does that mean abortion is then ok? No, that is a non-sequitur. You might as well say, “if you don’t smuggle any slaves into the north or don’t buy any slaves’ freedom, you can’t speak against slavery,” or, as Koukl quips in the audio below, “unless you are willing to marry a battered woman, you shouldn’t be speaking against the husband who beat her.” Doing nothing to help a born child no more disqualifies me to speak against abortion than doing nothing to help a rape victim disqualifies me to speak against rape.
The moral equation makes absolutely no sense. Unless I’m willing to care for children that are born, I shouldn’t be objecting to women and men who want to kill those children? If the unborn is a human being, we shouldn’t be killing it for the reasons people give for killing it, and even if I don’t adopt those children, that doesn’t mean I must muzzle the voice inside me that says, “don’t kill them.”
At any rate, it is wholly false that pro-lifers do little to nothing to care for born children. There are more Crisis Pregnancy Centers in this nation than there are abortion clinics. These are clinics that are privately funded by individuals, not by services they provide (unlike abortion clinics, which are funded in part by…well…abortion). There are great numbers of pro-life people who are caring for born children just like those individuals who give money to CPC’s. My church is another example. Just the other week, the leaders at my church announced a campaign to financially sponsor refugee children in Northern Uganda who have been made refugees from the conflict with the LRA rebel army in that region. Financially sponsoring a child in the Africa Renewal Ministry program would help give education, shelter, and food to him/her. It is not a one time gift; rather, it entails a monthly commitment. The ARM project had a few hundred children to be sponsored. In two days, individuals from my church sponsored every single child from that project (my wife and I are sponsoring two such children). This is not an isolated incident: RockHarbor does things like this regularly, and every time, whether the need arises from India, Africa, New Orleans, Mexico, Watts, or in our back yard of Costa Mesa, the congregation picks up the gauntlet without hesitation. Koukl gives a few other examples of some of the lengths him and his wife go to care for born children. Quite a few pro-life couples I know have adopted children, and still others (one of whom is in my men’s Bible study) mentor kids in the foster care system.
The bottom line is that even if I buy the moral equation above (I don’t), the characterization often given of pro-lifers who only protest but do nothing with their resources to care for the born in this world is absolutely false on its face. Look around.
I’m wary of answering challenges like that, though. As demonstrated by a recent conversation with a caller to Greg Koukl’s radio show, some who give it tend to “move the goal line.” When talking with critics who offer the objection, sometimes what counts as “helping” keeps changing, making conversations with these folks rather frustrating.