Should a pro-life supporter
vote Democrat or Republican?
1. Background material: Who is a pro-lifer?
Past pro-life attempts to reduce abortions
Who is a "pro-lifer?"
A person who describes themselves as pro-life generally believes that human life
(in the form of a spermatozoon and ovum) becomes a human person at the instant of conception (or
perhaps shortly after when a unique DNA is produced, or when the first cell division occurs). Pre-embryos, embryos and fetuses
are all viewed to be full human persons, who should be granted full rights including the right to
Within the pro-life movement, there exists a range of beliefs concerning
- Some believe that abortions
should be totally unavailable, even to save the life of the woman.
This is the position taught by the Roman Catholic Church and also believed by a
minority of conservative Protestants. It is derived from
their belief that an intrinsic sin (killing a fetus) cannot be performed even if it
would achieve a good result (saving the life of the
woman). Fortunately, this is a very rare situation that should never happen if
the woman has quick access to competent health care.
- Others would make abortions available only to save the life of the
woman. This is a common position among fundamentalist and other evangelical
Christians. They believe that it is less horrific to kill a fetus and allow the
woman to live than it is to stand idly by and watch both die.
- Still others would also allow a woman to have an abortion to prevent disastrous
disabling health problems. This is also a position held held by some pro-life conservative Protestants
At the other end of the spectrum are those who would also allow an abortion:
- If the pregnancy was caused as a result of rape or incest.
- If a continued pregnancy would seriously affect the health of the woman.
However, pro-lifers typically feel that abortions should not be made available to
women who merely want to end their pregnancy for personal reasons. Most pro-lifers favor compulsory
childbirth for all pregnant women, except for women in very unusual
Past pro-life attempts to reduce abortions:
One arm of the pro-life movement attempts to reduce the number of abortions
by promoting alternatives. They provide
pregnancy testing, information, support, referrals, adoption information, and
other services to pregnant women to help and encourage them continue their pregnancy.
Birthright International, 1 and various Abortion
Alternative and Crisis Pregnancy Centers 2 perform
However, it is the political wing of the pro-life movement that receives almost all of the
publicity. They have committed enormous and sustained effort to reduce the
number of abortions by following a different path. They try to making abortions less available to women
by restricting access. 3 They
have encouraged the Republicans to promote
laws and regulations that:
- Require pregnant women under the age of 18 to either obtain parental
consent for an abortion, or to inform the parents in advance.
- Would make it illegal to transport a minor across a state line to obtain an
abortion if her home state required parental consent. Several federal Child
Interstate Abortion Notification Act bills (CIANA) have been introduced.
None have passed as of 2008-OCT. 4
- Require women to go through a "cooling-off" period before being able to
have an abortion.
- Require physicians to read a standard statement to a pregnant woman
seeking an abortion that compares the risks of having an abortion with the risks
of childbirth. Some of the government-written statements emphasize that
the embryo and fetus are human persons. Some of these statements have been
criticized for their alleged lack of objectivity and controversial content.
- Compel pregnant women to view an ultrasound image of her fetus. This
would help a women bond with their fetus and might make them less inclined to seek
an abortion. None of these bills have become law as of 2008-OCT.
- Bar "... the use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions, except when
the woman’s life would be endangered by a full-term pregnancy, or in cases of
rape or incest." 5
- Bar the use of use of state funds for abortions. "... 32 states and the
District of Columbia prohibit public funding of abortions, except in cases of
life endangerment, rape or incest." 5
In addition, many groups of pro-lifers, who are often called "sidewalk
counselors," have established a presence outside of abortion clinics in order to
persuade patients seeking an abortion to continue their pregnancies.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Birthright International is active in the U.S., Canada, Colombia, and South
Africa. See: http://www.birthright.org/
- Pastor Matt Trewhella, "Coming home to roost: Fruit of the Ill-conceived Partial-Birth Abortion Strategy,"
- Melody Rose, "Safe, Legal, and Unavailable?: Abortion Politics in the United States," CQ Press (2006).
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- J. Margaret Datiles, "CIANA: Protecting Minors from Sexual Predators and
Fostering Respect for State Laws," Americans United for Life, 2008-JUL-28, at:
- "Get 'In the Know:' Questions About Pregnancy, Contraception and Abortion,"
Guttmacher Institute, at:
Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2008-OCT-25
Author: B.A. Robinson