The Changing Face Of The Pro-Life/Pro-Family Position

Jul 21st, 2018 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court has caused consternation among pro-choice elements in our culture and near euphoria among pro-life elements.  Some pro-life folks actually believe that the nomination of Brent Kavanagh to the Court will bring an end to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Court decision establishing abortion as a Constitutionally protected right.  Furthermore, the “zero-tolerance” policy of the Trump administration when it comes to children of illegal immigrants has raised serious questions about what it means to be pro-family.  Let’s think about both of these issues.

  • First, the matter of abortion. Whether a new Supreme Court justice will bring an end to Roe v. Wade remains an open question.  But it important to remember that even if Roe is overturned, the changing medical technology that enables women to end a pregnancy may not end the heated debate about abortion.  Pam Belluck and Jan Hoffman recently reported on “a burst of scientific innovation [that] has produced more effective, simpler and safer ways to prevent pregnancies and to stop them after conception—advances that have contributed to an abortion rate that has already plunged by half since the 1980s.”  What are these “innovations?”
  1. Aziza Ahmed, law professor at Northwestern University observes that “The majority of American women are on some form of contraception.  We take it for granted that we can control when and how we want to reproduce.  We see pregnancy as within the realm that we can control.”
  2. Women have powerful tools at hand: “Improved intrauterine devices and hormonal implants that can prevent pregnancy for years at a time; inexpensive home pregnancy tests able to detect pregnancy very early; and morning after pills, some even available over the counter, which can prevent pregnancy if taken up to five days after ‘unprotected sex’.”
  3. Medication abortions enable women up to 10 weeks pregnant to take two pills, the first supervised by a doctor and the second at home, to terminate a pregnancy without surgery. In 2013, nearly a quarter of abortions were accomplished with medication, up from 10% in 2004.  Even in countries that have banned virtually all abortions, including some in Latin America, women have managed to get these drugs from websites and abortion rights groups that ship them.  “Apps and telemedicine services are making birth control pills and other methods available without even a visit to a doctor.”
  4. “Despite the new drugs and technologies, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, a higher rate than in many other developed countries. A report this year by a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that three-quarters of women who have abortions are poor or low-income, and 61% are women of color.”
  5. The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 barred most legal restrictions on abortions until the baby could survive outside the womb—basically the first trimester of the pregnancy. Because of the various pharmaceutical products and new technologies mentioned above, and because of various state laws that restrict surgical abortions, abortion rates have declined almost steadily since 1981 when the rate was 29.3 per 1,000 women.  In 2014, there were an estimated 926,200 abortions—a rate of 14.6 per 1,000 women, ages 14 to 44.  State laws that delay or limit access to abortion include mandating parental notification by teenagers, longer waiting periods, stricter requirements for abortion clinics, and various “fetal pain” laws.  These various laws have also contributed to the drop in surgical abortions in the US, for which many of us are very thankful.

Therefore, the abortion situation in America is far more complicated that it was in 1973.  If the Supreme Court were to overturn the legal parameters set in the 1973 Roe decision, it would end surgical abortion procedures.  Would it also end all forms of medical abortions?  Would it mandate an end to all the various technologies and products that end a pregnancy weeks after conception, when there is a functioning, growing human being in the womb?  Would it end the use of Apps and telemedicine services that give women access to products that can end a pregnancy?  Will it end the various contraception products that in effect are abortifacients?  Tragically, overturning Roe v. Wade will not end all forms of abortion in America.

  • Second is one of the more significant challenges to the pro-family convictions of those who name the name of Christ. In May 2018, the Trump administration began forcibly removing children from migrant parents who had entered the US illegally.  Under its “zero-tolerance” policy for border enforcement, thousands of children were sent to holding facilities, sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles from where their parents were being held for criminal prosecution.  Under enormous pressure, after weeks of separating families, President Trump signed an executive order mandating that the government should detain families together in federal custody, thereby ending the “zero-tolerance” policy of separating parents from their children.  But the dilemma now is what to do with the children taken from their parents over the preceding weeks?  A federal court has ordered the administration to return children under the age of 5 to their parents, which the government calculates is 103 children.  But more than 2,800 children remain in various facilities located throughout the country.  Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse and of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has called this development “disgraceful.”  How did such an abominable detention policy develop?  The origins of this policy date back to the Obama administration which detained immigrant families together.  But after a challenge to this policy, federal courts placed limits on the detention of children in federal prisons.  The courts did not approve of children being placed in a prison environment with their parents.  After the court ruling, the Obama administration effectively made an exception for unauthorized immigrants who arrived with children.  Adults would be released from detention while waiting for their cases to be processed.  Ankle bracelets and other devices were used to keep track of these families.  This year the Trump administration imposed a policy of prosecuting all people who illegally crossed the US border with Mexico.  Because of the court ruling under the Obama administration prohibiting children from being indefinitely detained, children were separated from their parents and other adults from 5 May to 9 June of this year.  Adults were referred for criminal prosecution and jailed.  The parents were to have no contact, except by phone, with their children.  Because of the bureaucracy and involvement of multiple agencies implementing this policy, it has become difficult to locate many of the children.  [The Trump administration apparently believed that jailing parents and separating them from their children for an extended period while they awaited trial, would discourage further illegal immigration.]

The family is the most basic unit of civilization, created and ordained by God (see Genesis 2).   Children are precious to God and it betrays all forms of compassion and care to advocate what the current administration has done from 5 May to 9 June 2018.  As a Christian, it is difficult for me to defend the Trump administration in its policy of separating children from their parents.  That is why Franklin Graham called it “disgraceful.”  The pressure became so great that Trump ended it with his May executive order.

What should we do as a nation?  We must have enforceable immigration policies and secure borders.  It is imperative to remember that many illegal immigrants are hired by businesses and companies in America.  For that reason, Ross Douthat, among others, has argued for the US government to mandate some version of the E-Verify program, which would make if difficult for businesses to hire illegal immigrants.  If immigrants cannot find a job, this would end one of the major reasons for coming to the US.  E-Verify mandates “lead to better labor market outcomes among workers likely to compete with unauthorized immigrants . . . E-Verify seems vastly preferable to the brutality of family separation.”

See Pam Belluck and Jan Hoffman in the New York Times (2 July 2018) and Ross Douthat in the New York Times (17 June 2018).

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One Comment to “The Changing Face Of The Pro-Life/Pro-Family Position”

  1. Richard Pendell says:

    When, in 1935, DuPont began the promotion of plastics in consumer products, they completely branded the slogan, “Better Living Through Chemistry” in the minds of every man, woman and child in North America. American life, in the 83 years since that time has been largely characterized by lives linked closely to chemical innovation. We have a pill and/or a procedure to remedy virtually nearly every rude reality of life. Chemical dependency has become deeply rooted in the American psyche.
    I remember a cover of the once stellar LOOK magazine in 1960 that was a close-up of a kind of tidal wave of pills and capsules with the lead article sounding the alarm at the skyrocketing use of pharmaceuticals by the American public. In hindsight, we now realize how crude and damaging many of these quickly-marketed drugs really were. Once this cat was out of the bag, it quickly spawned the unregulated market of street drugs that became a pillar of the anti-social, nihilistic movements among the young of the ’60’s and ’70’s. Our tidal wave became a tsunami. What was the primary driver of this destructive phenomenon? It was the promise of freedom: sex without babies or those pesky, incurable STD’s, freedom from every imaginable type of pain and discomfort for a very affordable price and readily availability. I recall attending a picnic for wealthy company owners and their managers in an exclusive neighborhood in Dallas, 1959. The men wanted to play some lawn games that involved some light amount of running and jumping. As they began, I recall seeing a virtual rain of pill bottles flying in every direction from their pockets. I was 11 at the time and I remember thinking to myself, “Is this what business success looks like? Is this the ‘American Dream’ of middle-aged men? Something is terribly wrong here if it is necessary to prop up your success with a virtual portable pharmacy!” These were not rebellious teens. These were our ‘pillars of the community’ who actually attended church regularly.
    Today, our new life-motto should be, “Better Living and Dying, through Chemistry.” The ‘Dying’ part could also be extended to mean “Better Living by Killing(if necessary).” We have lost nearly all moral perspective when:
    1. We express outrage at the highest levels for the murder of a citizen by a Soviet nerve agent in the same country that publicly funds and encourages abortions at any time for any reason, along with promoting physician assisted suicide. (U.K.)
    2. We abort nearly a million unborn each year and enshrine this as a Constitutional ‘right’ for every woman and girl under any and all circumstances. We utilize Planned Parenthood, the ultimate misnomer, to act as our proxy agent for this mass murder, while punishing any person or entity that attempts to not participate in this sin.
    3. We enact public laws that do everything possible to undercut the sanctity of the family, to the extent we’ve forgotten how to even define the terms ‘marriage’ and ‘family’ anymore. Yet, we become outraged when families are separated for an illegal border crossing. It doesn’t make it ‘right’ to separate these families, but we have a long history now of weakening and breaking up marriage and families by enacting ‘progressive’ public laws that kill children and weaken parental rights and responsibilities. (U.S.)
    Regarding our border crisis, I know this will sound incredibly simplistic and logical, but what would happen if we simply had a ‘free ride home’ policy for any and all illegal border crossers. Illegal crossers would be immediately escorted to waiting planes at a nearby government-contracted air service and flown back to their country of origin as quickly as possible with all families in tact. They would be photographed and escorted by employees of the Border Patrol who would provide them with the proper documents to apply for legal asylum or work permits in the future. Their photos would be entered into a federal database. The next time they attempted to enter illegally, their new photo would be entered into this database with facial recognition software. If there was a match, they would be permanently banned from any type of entry into the U.S. and face mandatory prison time if they violated this ban. This would nearly eliminate the currently unmanageable, costly border courts. In most countries, if you enter without proper documentation, you have no ‘rights’ whatsoever. In most, you are simply escorted out of the country, at best. There is a long list of countries that send you back to some type of near certain death. There are more displaced people now than ever before in history and 80% of them would do anything to get into the U.S.. That is a hard fact. We have exercised many wrong approaches to immigration in the past. If we don’t ‘get it right’ very soon, it will continue to be our ultimate undoing, guaranteed.