Do prolifers care about women and babies once they’re born? They have no right to speak against abortion unless they are willing to care for these children. A publication of the National Abortion Rights Action League states, “The ‘prolife’ concerns of abortion foes are only for fetal lives, not the lives of women or unwanted babies.”
Prolifers are actively involved in caring for women in crisis pregnancies and difficult child-raising situations.
A “Dear Abby” letter, signed “Hates Hypocrites,” angrily challenges people opposing abortion: “Why aren’t you volunteering to baby-sit a child born to a single mother so she can work? Why haven’t you opened your door to a pregnant teenager whose parents have kicked her out when she took your advice and decided not to have an abortion?” The writer rails against prolifers, calling them hypocrites. Abby responds, “I couldn’t have said it better.”
This approach has two basic flaws. First, it is possible to point out an injustice even when one does not provide the solution. People could say slavery was wrong even if they did not open their homes to a slave. A man can say it is wrong for his neighbor to beat his wife, even if he isn’t in a position to give her a home. If a woman chooses not to volunteer to adopt her neighbor’s three children, does this disqualify her from saying she thinks it would be wrong for her neighbor to kill them?
Francis Beckwith comments on this common but rather bizarre line of pro-choice argumentation:
This bit of rhetoric can be distilled into the following assertion: unless the prolifer is willing to help bring up the children he does not want aborted, he has no right to prevent a woman from having an abortion. As a principle of moral action, this seems to be a rather bizarre assertion. Think of all the unusual precepts that would result: unless I am willing to marry my neighbor’s wife, I cannot prevent her husband from beating her; unless I am willing to adopt my neighbor’s daughter, I cannot prevent her mother from abusing her; unless I am willing to hire ex-slaves for my business, I cannot say that the slave owner should not own slaves. By illegitimately shifting the discussion from the morality of abortion to whether one has a “solution” to certain social problems, the abortion-rights advocate avoids the point under question. Although a clever move, it has nothing to do with whether or not abortion results in the death of human beings who have a full right to life or whether or not abortion is immoral.
I do agree, however, that people who point out injustices should seek to be part of the solution. This raises the second and most important flaw in the argument of the one writing to Abby: No evidence whatsoever is offered for the damning assumption made, which Abby buys into as well. Who says prolifers are not doing the things they are assumed not to be doing? The truth is, they are!
In virtually every part of the United States there are abortion alternative centers that provide free pregnancy tests, free counseling, and free material and human resources to pregnant women. There are more prolife help-giving centers, well over three thousand of them, than there are prolife education and political action centers. Most of these centers have dozens of volunteers, some of them hundreds, donating not only time spent with clients, but everything from clothing to maintenance to service to office supplies and computer support. I have served on the board of one such center, on the steering committee to get another started, and have visited dozens of them across the country. Though their services cost them a great deal of money—as opposed to making them a great deal of money— there are more abortion alternative centers in the United States than there are abortion clinics.
Since these clinics draw business away from abortion clinics, they have come under fire from the prochoice movement and its representatives in the media. When a U.S. House committee, chaired by Oregon’s Ron Wyden, investigated so-called “fake” abortion clinics, its members did not allow a single prolife representative from any of the centers in question to testify. Had they done so, they would have found that the great majority of Pregnancy Resource Centers require that their clinics advertise themselves as offering “Abortion Alternatives” and train their workers to give accurate medical information.
Throughout 1999 abortion advocates launched a fresh barrage of attacks on pregnancy centers. According to World magazine, this was triggered when word got out that a California Crisis Pregnancy Center network had established a system of referrals with HMO giant Kaiser-Permanente. Fearing this could start a dangerous trend, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) posted on its web site a document titled “Deceptive Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers.”
It cites Planned Parenthood materials that refer to the tactics in the mid-eighties of a small group of pregnancy centers, unaffiliated with the vast majority of pregnancy clinics. Planned Parenthood “crafted a far-ranging media campaign that painted all CPCs as deceptive, anti-choice terrorist cells populated by religious extremists.” The attack worked for a while and “left CPCs reeling in a backlash of negative public opinion.”
Congressional hearings, court battles, and new advertising regulations forced those few prolife clinics using deceptive measures to change their methods. But NARAL keeps bringing up charges from the past as if they were current or representative of pregnancy resource centers. In fact, Planned Parenthood web sites still have pages devoted to “The Deceptive Practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers,”when in fact “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” is the name historically used for the clinics under CareNet, which has always required its clinics to be aboveboard in their advertising and counseling. Attempts by Planned Parenthood to discredit abortion alternative centers suggests that they do not want women to have the alternative information or services offered by those centers. They simply want them to have abortions.
A Planned Parenthood web site says,
In their zeal to stop women from having abortions, anti-abortion activists have set up “counseling centers” in hundreds of communities around the country. Far from true counseling, these centers are designed to misinform and intimidate women; some will go to any lengths necessary to dissuade women from ending their pregnancies.
Increasingly, women complain about their unwitting encounters with anti-abortion centers. Women describe being harassed, intimidated, and given blatantly false information. They complain that confidential information they provided was used against them. In some cases, they describe instances of medical malpractice which threatened their lives.
The Brooklyn Prochoice Network’s web site has much to say about “fake clinics,” including,
Phony clinics perform no medical services. Their entire purpose is to lure in women and bombard them with antiabortion propaganda. Most fake clinics have no doctors or other medical staff. A woman who visits one of these phony facilities is merely given a home pregnancy test of the kind available in drug stores, then told to wait for her results. While she waits, she is shown graphic, medically inaccurate antiabortion videos.
I have seen firsthand the provision of free prenatal care, free clothing, baby clothes, furnishings, and other help to needy women. Prolife families give free room and board as well as love and support to women who need it. Often prolife doctors volunteer no-cost medical help, and prolife lawyers donate legal aid to help with adoptions when this is the woman’s choice. When women choose to keep their children, single mother support groups and child care are offered. Like tens of thousands of prolife families, my family opened our home to a pregnant teenage girl and helped her financially and legally. The royalties from this book and others are partly used to help such women in need.
I believe prolifers can and should do more and more to help women in crisis pregnancies. But what they are already doing, free of charge, is substantial. It amounts to what may be the single largest volunteer effort in our nation’s history and certainly one of the most effective. While there are hypocrites in any group, to label prolifers in general as hypocrites is a position unsupported by the facts.
Prolifers are actively involved in caring for unwanted children and the other “disposable people” in society.
When I was on a radio talk show one irate caller asked, “Once you people ‘save the lives of the unborn,’ where are you for the next eighteen years?” I said, “At this very moment, one of my prolife friends is picking up his eighteenth adopted child, a hard-to-place handicapped minority. Three of his other adopted children have Down syndrome.” I told of many prolife families waiting to adopt and many others involved in foster care with “drug babies” and other children with special needs. The claim that prolife people don’t help with unwanted children makes inflammatory rhetoric, but it is simply false.
Many prolifers are also on the cutting edge of care for the poor, elderly, and handicapped. There are hundreds of organizations across the country that specialize in helping such people. The organization I am part of is committed not only to meeting spiritual needs, but to feeding the hungry and providing education and resources for the poor. Helping women and children who are victims of abortion is only one aspect of our focus on helping people.
It is abortion providers who do not provide support for women choosing anything other than abortion.
When you hear abortion providers talk about the help they offer women, ask them: “If a fifteen-year-old girl comes into your clinic with no money, no one to help her, no home to go to, and no desire to have an abortion, what services does your facility provide for her?” The answer is always the same—none. Abortion advocates don’t offer help. They offer only abortion, and then only to those who can pay their price. Many former abortion providers have come forward to tell their stories and admit to their patterns of indifference, materialism, and deceit.
I challenge anyone to do his or her research and find out who is doing the most, at the lowest cost and in the most caring way, to help pregnant women. If you don’t just listen to what both sides say about the other, but actually investigate what both sides are doing, I don’t have the slightest doubt what you will discover.
Photo by Jason Nelson
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