Is It True Pro-life Proponents Only Care about Fetuses and Do Nothing to Help Children Who Are Already Born?

Countless myths have been attached to the pro-life movement. One example is the oft-repeated statement, “Pro-lifers don’t really care about pregnant women, or about children once they’re born.”

A television reporter, with cameras rolling, once approached me at a pro-life event and asked for my response to that accusation. I said, “Well, my wife and I opened our home to a pregnant girl and paid her expenses while she lived with us. We supported her when she decided to give up the child for adoption. And, since you asked, we give a substantial amount of our income to help poor women and children.”

Then I introduced her to a pastor friend standing next to me who, with his wife, had adopted nineteen children, a number of them with Down syndrome and other special needs. The reporter signaled the cameraman to stop filming. I asked if she wanted to interview my friend. She shook her head and moved on, looking for someone who matched her stereotype.

A Word about the Word “Pro-Life”

First, let me say emphatically: pro-life people should be concerned not only for the unborn, but for the weak and needy, for the orphans and widows, for the hungry, for the abandoned and abused of all ages. We should fight against sex trafficking and racial injustice and the mistreatment of the elderly. We should obey God when He says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). When believers have been sitting on the sidelines and are not actively seeking ways to obey God’s calling to help the needy, they do need to be called to action.

Being pro-life does not end with advocating for the protection of unborn children. However, because they are the smallest and weakest and most vulnerable human beings, and because they are killed at the highest rates and in the greatest numbers, and because countless people and even the law of the land argue for the right to destroy them, being pro-life certainly begins with defending the unborn.

Ironically, there are those who now use the term pro-life when it comes to the already born, but do little or nothing on behalf of the unborn. They have co-opted the term while abandoning its historic meaning. It would be like people in the mid-nineteenth century adopting the term “emancipation” to advocate for children working long hours in mines, while turning around and defending people’s right to buy and sell slaves.

To be pro-life should certainly mean more than being concerned for unborn babies, but it should never mean less than that.

A Gigantic Grassroots Volunteer Movement

I do agree that people who point out injustice should seek to be part of the solution. Truthfully, that’s already been happening for years in the pro-life cause. Thousands of pro-life organizations around the country and throughout the world provide free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, support groups, childcare classes, financial management education, babysitting, diapers, children’s clothes, and housing. To these, add tens of thousands of churches donating time, money, food, house repairs, and every other kind of help to needy pregnant women, single mothers, and low-income families. Countless pro-life families adopt children, open their homes, and volunteer to help children after they’re born. Together, I am convinced these efforts actually comprise the single largest grassroots volunteer movement in history.

While those who offer abortions charge women for them, those who offer abortion alternatives give their assistance freely, lovingly, and almost entirely behind the scenes. Contrary to some caricatures, these people are not just pro-birth—they are truly pro-life. They care about a child and her mother, and help them both before birth and after.

Government Programs and Pro-Life Convictions

Pro-choice advocates sometimes say the proof that pro-life activists don’t actually care about already-born children is found in how they vote and what government programs they do or don’t support.

But a child’s right to life is the foundational right from which all other rights flow, and that’s why we have to start there. Nathan Apodaca writes, “The pro-life argument is that it’s wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Abortion does that. Therefore, abortion is wrong. How does my alleged rejection of big government programs and progressive political ideas refute that essential pro-life argument? It doesn’t.”

Many pro-life advocates help women and children through charitable non-government means. Just because this help isn’t directly connected to the government doesn’t meant it isn’t real and effective. (And in many cases, because non-government organizations are able to work more personally with individuals, they can be far more effective.)

Kyle Blanchette writes:

…yes, there is something objectionable and inconsistent about someone whose pro-life activism amounts to nothing more than casting a vote for the candidate who opposes abortion, all the while refusing to lift a finger to help mothers and babies in difficult circumstances.

But we must take care not to conflate help with government programs. Those opposed to abortion can both agree that mothers and babies deserve our help, and disagree that whatever government program is under discussion is the best way to provide that help. Pro-lifers who care about mothers and babies, but who are also are skeptical of the efficiency and efficacy of some or all government programs, can be found giving to charities designed to help mothers and babies.

Furthermore, regardless of who anyone votes for, all U.S. citizens pay taxes that support current government programs. As Ardee Coolidge points out, “Since we are all subject to the same tax laws regardless of our stance on abortion or our faith in the efficacy of the programs that our taxes fund, all people (pro-life and pro-choice) support those programs to the same degree.” The vast amount given to pro-life causes is over and above, not in place of, the support to government programs inherent in paying taxes.

Some people believe we should make abortion “safe and rare” by supporting big-government programs that seek to address poverty and help women and families.  They see this as a comprehensive pro-life solution, believing that if we can address the root of what causes women to choose abortion, we’ll reduce its frequency. While it’s certainly important for society to identify and work to address those root issues, and to help people in poverty, it’s also fair to ask, “What kind of policy or program can address the plight of women facing unsupported pregnancy without supporting abortion?” Unfortunately, any support of the abortion industry, which has no financial interest in keeping abortion rare—in fact, quite the opposite—only bolsters it. (And if abortion really is the killing of an innocent child, then we wouldn’t say, for example, “Let’s work to make murder or child abuse safe and rare.”)

There is room for legitimate debate and disagreement about various government programs, and how we can best help women and children in need. By all means, let’s seek just and wise ways to do so. But the idea that the pro-life cause is hypocritical for not aligning with a specific list of political ideas and government programs is flawed. It can be either an ad hominem argument that unfairly attacks their character, or a straw man argument that falsely claims their lack of confidence in certain government programs proves they don’t care about people.

The truth is, many pro-life people I know give generously not only to provide abortion alternatives but also to support organizations which effectively and efficiently feed the hungry and help the poor and needy in their communities and beyond.

This article is excerpted from Randy's book Pro-Choice or Pro-Life: Examining 15 Pro-Choice Claims—What Do Facts & Common Sense Tell Us? Browse more prolife articles and resources

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries