In a recent article at ChristianPost, the author, Eric Sapp makes the controversial claim–which is also the title of the article–“Hillary Clinton is the Best Choice for Voters Against Abortion” (10-3-2016). I just have to respond.
Sapp is repeating a common claim among democrats that the best way to reduce abortions is to support pro-choice candidates and their pro-choice policies. This case is typically woven together with selective evidence correlating, for example, declining abortion rates with democrat presidents and with a loose outline of how “compassion initiatives” (welfare, Obamacare, etc.) help reduce abortion by reducing poverty. Sapp’s case is no different.
Fortunately, the editors at ChristianPost have been kind enough to link directly to a rebuttal from Dr. Richard Land. Land’s comments are instructive, and I recommend you read that response too.
Abortion Friendly Christians?!
Eric Sapp appears to be a prolife democrat and a Christian; he phrases his case according to those commitments. Conservative evangelicals and Christian republicans may be surprised to see how flagrantly left-wing Christians might wave their political flag, but we can at least agree that there’s plenty of room within historic Christianity to accommodate a wide range of political opinions. We can critique political platforms on a case by case basis if need be, but we should not treat the democrat party entire, or left wing ideology like it’s altogether contrary to Christianity. It’s just not that simple. There is no verse in Scripture saying, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and renounce Obamacare, and you will be saved.”
However, when it comes to the abortion issue, it’s increasingly difficult to see how a person who loves Jesus and fears God could be openly support prochoice policies, especially when claiming to be prolife as Eric Sapp does. People would have to nuance their notion of “prochoice” or “Christian” till they aren’t even recognizable anymore. God will judge us all in the end, so it’s His decision how to weigh the souls of sinners like you and me, along with every abortion-choice advocate out there. And we are all sinners, so none of us are fit to “throw the first stone.” But it remains biblically safe to say that willful abortion opposes the life-affirming teachings of Scripture.
Sapp is not however arguing for more abortions. His case isn’t prochoice so much as it’s pragmatically prolife. He aims to reduce abortions. Eric and I might even agree on prolife ideas. He’s not advocating for a broadly permissive policy of abortion. However, we clearly certainly disagree over how best to reduce abortions.
Summarizing Sapp’s argument, he is saying that Democrat practice and policy reduces the actual number of abortions whereas republican alternatives generates more abortions. To make this case he offers several lines of evidence to which I respond below.
The Best Bad Plan We have
“In my recent op-ed on how there was no Biblically-consistent way for evangelicals to justify voting for Trump, I touched on the false promises Republicans — and Trump in particular — have been making around abortion. A number of people asked that I expand on that point, and given the importance of abortion to many evangelicals, it’s worth a closer and more honest look.”
We agree that abortion is very important and a valid inclusion in political discussions, especially this election year. We also agree that Donald Trump is a deeply flawed candidate who has a habit of lying (though Hillary does it too). Prolifers, I would suggest, have plenty of reason to still vote for him as he’s the one candidate left (between Trump, Clinton, and Johnson) standing on a distinctly prolife platform. And a republican victory would potentially ensure the best chances of conservative supreme court nominations and other high level appointments. We prolifers are left voting for the platform and not the person. This election matters too much to “sit this one out,” but Trump’s prochoice history, his apparent mistreatment of women, and his penchant for boastful, grandiose, and even foul language reflect the poor character of a bad candidate. Even those who agree on strong borders, fiscal and economic conservativism, and a strong free markets, we can all acknowledge Donald Trump’s candidacy bodes ominously for the future of the republican party. But if Trump is a bad idea, then Hillary Clinton and Gary Johnson are worse. To quote Jack O’Donnell in Argo, “This is the best bad plan we have.”
Single Issue Voting
“I’ll start by saying that I don’t think Christians should be single-issue voters since Christ’s ministry wasn’t single-issue. But if your concern for the unborn determines your vote, Hillary Clinton should be your candidate.”
The “single issue voter” line is a typical insult against prolifers, as if it’s too simplistic and politically uninformed to let a single issue qualify or disqualify candidate. This insult, however is a badge of honor when we realize that abortion rates are so astronomical the deathtoll outpaces any atrocity in U.S. history, more than all war casualties, more than all our diseases and epidemics, more than even slavery. How silly would it sound to insult Abraham Lincoln for campaigning primarily on the “abolition” ticket? “That Lincoln, he’s just pandering to ‘single issue voters’ who are too busy trying to abolish slavery to think about anything else.” Bear in mind that abortion-choice treats human beings as sub-human objects, like so much property that can be owned, disposed, and destroyed at will by the oppressor class and that right of the owner over her property is thought to be so sacred that any intrusion upon that woman’s “right” to kill her human property is considered tyranny. That sounds a lot like slavery doesn’t it?
When the issue at hand is the greatest crime against humanity in American history we are justified in treating that issue as the chief qualification for anyone who wants our vote. Moreover, “single issue voting” is pretty much how everyone votes. We aren’t saying that only one issue matters, we just tend to treat a given issue as the most important issue whereby anyone who’s on the wrong side of that issue can’t get our vote. Of course there are exceptions, but it would be naive to treat all politically charged issues like they are equally weighted, as if we are wholly unable to identify whether a given issue–such as abortion–is the deadliest and most consequential of them all.
Furthermore, abortion is not an isolated issue. It’s deeply interwoven into most everything else. It’s a family values issue as it bears upon family, sexual practice, and marriage. It’s an economy issue since the abortion industry is literally death profiteering and there’s a strong case that Planned parenthood and the Democratic Party have been running a vote-buying racket for years and circumventing the Hyde Amendment to use tax-dollars to fund abortions. Besides economic and social components, it’s also a fiscal issue since Hillary Clinton wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment and direct government funds (i.e., tax dollars even from conscientious objectors) to help women pay to kill their children-in-utero. And there are obvious religious and ethical implications. Abortion is also a women’s rights issue, and not just for prochoicers. Prolifers can object that abortion hurts women facilitating their use and abuse as sex objects; abortion traumatizes women; and abortion is currently killing almost half a million baby girls each year. It’s hard to take “feminism” seriously wherever it advocates for the “right” to own and dispose of tiny girls like unwanted property on the order of 500,000 a year.
In short, the “single issue voter” accusation is a misnomer. Abortion is quite possibly the most important political issue in American history as it interweaves deeply with many other political issues and it remains the most deadly institutionally approved attack on humankind over the whole history of U.S. politics.
Safe, Legal, and Rare
“I imagine there might be a reader or two right about now saying, ‘But Hillary Clinton is pro-choice!’ That’s true. She has never promised to overturn Roe. She even famously said that “abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.” But all of that is largely immaterial to the question of saving unborn babies.”
Dr. Richard Land rightly observes that “the interested reader will search in vain for the phrase, “safe, legal, and rare,” which has been expunged from the 2016 [Democrat] party platform” (para. 11).Whatever Hillary Clinton may have said in the past, the platforms she’s promoting today do not advocate for reducing abortions. Despite what Sapp says, it’s hardly immaterial if the party platform for the Democrats, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign positions entail continued funding to the single biggest abortion provider in the country and violating the conscientious objection of citizens who don’t want their tax dollars funding abortion, and other examples of government overreach.
A False Dichotomy
“Here’s the question pro-life Christians must ask: do we care more about talking about the unborn, or do we actually want to do something to prevent abortions? Now some might argue that words matter — that we need leaders willing to take a stand, even if they never deliver. I’ll get to the “delivering” part shortly, but let’s start with what they say.” [Emphasis his]
Sapp is committing a logical fallacy called a false-dichotomy. He’s dividing prolife “talk” and “practice” like they somehow exclude each other, and then suggesting prolifers have chose the wrong option. In other words, he’s suggesting that prolife “talk” is impractical and somehow divorced from actually reducing abortions. This dilemma is fallacious because prolife Christians are a major force, in word and deed, behind the 396 proposed prolife bills in state legislature last year (2015), 57 of which passed. Prolife words and deeds have been a major socio-political influence behind the 334 prolife bills passed over the last 5 years. And accordingly, we’ve seen a significant decline in abortions over those years. Undoubtedly, prolife democrats will try to thank Obama for those victories though his only contribution to prolife bills has been antagonism.
Meanwhile, we prolifers have a duty to walk the talk, and talk the walk.
Reducing abortions in the short term is great, and there may be a case for democrat policies reducing some abortion measures in the short-run, but without the right ideas firmly establishing their weighty place within the written records of our day we risk dissipating those gains in the long term. We need good ideas planting in families and communities, ideas like personal accountability, individual responsibility, community care, healthy families, safe sex, and self-sacrificing love for others. These ideas have to be clarifying and emphasized in word and deed. We prolifers are clearly interested in reducing abortions, but not just through short term, short-sighted, policies, for example, which sustain poverty by rewarding bad behavior or which destabilize and deincentivize marriage and family. We have an eye for the short-term and the long-term, for the individual and the collective. And that means teaching a wholistic sense of the prolife ideology and living out that difference in families and communities.
 See my notes on the biblical cases for and against abortion in John D. Ferrer, “The Case Against Abortion” [Online] (AbortionHistoryMuseum.com, 13 October 2015), pages 19-20.
 John D. Ferrer, “Abortion is the Worst Thing Ever . . . Literally,” [Online] (24 June 2015).
 “The Case Against Abortion,” pgs. 33-34.