Jill Stanek, pro-lifer extraordinaire, posed this Weekend question on a defunct blog: Are pro-lifers going to adopt all the unwanted babies? As I noted in the comments section there, I love that question. We should welcome this objection by pro-legalized abortionists. It lets us explain the underlying fallacy of their question and how they never apply it in situations outside the womb, how pro-lifers do a lot to help before and after delivery, and how the same obligation of caring falls on them. They may not convert but any objective middle-grounder will see the merits.
One of the most common sound bites/jokes that pro-choicers make about pro-lifers is that we are infatuated with the fetus but don’t care about kids after they are born. The message is that if we don’t adopt all unwanted children then we have no right to complain about abortion. It is an important sound bite to be able to address because it is very common and even pro-lifers I know are not only intimidated by it but they have used it themselves as a reason to remain silent about abortion.
The “Pro-lifers don’t care about kids after they are born” line is one of my favorite arguments to rebut. I teach people how to do it in pro-life training sessions in a two-step approach. The tone of the conversation is important. These arguments are powerful and quite effective if they are laid out in a calm, reasoned approach. You probably won’t convert the rabid pro-choicers, but most of the middle-grounders will get the point.
First, show that pointing out a moral wrong does not obligate you to take responsibility for the situation.
If your neighbor is beating his wife, you call the police. The police don’t say, “Hey, buddy, unless you are willing to marry her yourself then we aren’t going to stop him from beating her.” You can use child or animal abuse as examples as well. Most people get the point pretty quickly.
Or ask the pro-choicer what they would do if the government decided to reduce the number of homeless people by killing them. Could he protest that without having to house and feed them all himself?
You can also use the “trot out the toddler” approach promoted by Stand to Reason and ask if it would be acceptable to object to murdering a toddler even if you aren’t willing to adopt her. Of course, the pro-choicer will always recognize the moral good to protest toddler killing. Then you can point out that killing innocent human beings is immoral and that the unborn are human beings. So pointing out this moral wrong does not obligate us to do anything further.
Second, explain that while we aren’t morally obligated to help after the babies are born to be able to speak out against abortion, Christians do many things with their time and money anyway – orphanages, Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), food pantries, etc.
When I’m teaching CPC volunteers I remind them of all that they and the center do: Pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, food, clothes, diapers, life skill training, parenting training, post-abortion counseling, and more – all for free! And, of course, we share the Gospel with the clients if they are interested (Saving lives now and for eternity!).
The workers are mostly volunteers and the leaders make below-market wages because they believe in the cause. Most centers receive no government funding, so all the money comes from donations. There are far more Crisis Pregnancy Centers than there are abortion clinics.
When I tell people about CPCs the typical reaction is, “I had no idea.” Most people aren’t aware of all the good being done there. In theory, CPCs are something pro-choicers could support as well. After all, if women choose to keep their children this is a great way to help them. But Planned Parenthood et al consider them public enemy #1 because we take away some of their business.
You can also ask pro-choicers what Planned Parenthood and the like do for hurting women once the babies are born. It is a really, really short list. Do they provide free post-abortion counseling? (Of course not, because who would need that, right?) Do they give diapers, formula, etc.? Hey, they don’t even give free abortions (though they would love for your tax dollars to fund some).
Having said all that, I do think the church can and should be doing even more in the area of adoptions and support for orphans. Not because having pro-life views requires that, but because it is the right thing to do regardless of whether abortion is legal or illegal.
Here’s a bonus argument: A recent Stand to Reason Podcast brought up another good point that I hadn’t thought of. Here’s an additional response to use: Unless someone concedes to being truly pro-abortion (i.e., they expect women to always have abortions or raise the children with no help from the public), then the pro-choicers are obligated to adopt the children as well. Either that, or give up espousing their pro-choice views. After all, if you claim to be pro-choice and the women choose life, then the same care giving obligation falls on you.
Think about it. It may seem subtle at first, but it is a completely consistent argument. Pro-lifers don’t think it should be an option to kill the unborn, so pro-choicers use the false logic that we can’t complain about abortion if we won’t adopt all the kids and raise them to adulthood. But if the woman decides to choose life, then the pro-choicer would have the same moral obligation to raise the kids.
Here’s how I played this out in this comment thread:
Pro-legalized abortion commenter: Hard decisions belong between a pregnant woman and her caregivers, not “holier than thou” intruders, unless they personally are willing to raise, including medical care, education, and life care, all those fertilized eggs.
My response: Another canard.
Answer me this: Let’s say the government decides to solve the problem of homelessness by killing homeless people. Can you protest this without being willing to house them yourself?
You can also substitute other examples (Can you call the police if your neighbor is abusing his wife and children without having to marry her and adopt the kids?).
It is a simple question designed to point out the primary error of your argument: You don’t have to take ownership of a situation just because you protest a moral evil.
And even though I don’t have to raise those human beings (the ones you like to call fertilized eggs) just because I protest the evil of abortion, I actually do a lot with my own time and money via CareNet Pregnancy Center.
And by the way, unless you are truly pro-abortion, then you are obligated to help as well. After all, if you claim to be pro-choice and the women choose life, then the same care giving obligation falls on you.
So that argument self-destructs in at least three ways.
Finally, consider if the child was outside the womb. Do the women and her caregivers get to decide if the toddler lives or dies? Of course not. So the only question is whether the unborn is a human being. Since it is a scientific fact that she is, then people shouldn’t get to decide whether to kill her. And Christians especially shouldn’t support anyone’s right to kill her.
Other commenter: BTW, half of fertilized eggs don’t implant in the uterus, so is it illegal for a woman to have mensus?
My response: Are you seriously claiming that you don’t see the difference between the following?
1. Human being dies of natural causes.
2. Human being is crushed and dismembered by another human being.
I think most people can see the difference, whether 1 and 2 occur inside or outside the womb.
I’ve heard all the pro-legalized abortion sound bites many times and will be glad to debunk more for you. I hope that you are intellectually honest and reconsider your position on this crucial issue.
In summary, pointing out the moral evil of abortion does not obligate one to adopt all the babies. But pro-lifers do help anyway. A lot. And they do it with their own time and money, not their neighbors’.
When pro-legalized abortion people try to put you on the defensive by asking how many kids you have adopted, use the reasons above to respond. Also, you can ask how many they adopt from orphanages. If they haven’t adopted any, then according to their logic they couldn’t protest their destruction.
Here’s a list you can copy and paste when someone accuses you of being inconsistent:
Do you have any idea how much time and money I donate to help the poor or how much I pay in taxes? [Pause] Didn’t think so. So why not stick to the topic, which is whether you should be able to crush and dismember children in the womb? The “pro-lifers don’t care about those outside the womb/haven’t adopted all the children/etc.” canard is false on many levels.
1. If people were slaughtering toddlers, the elderly, or anyone else the way they do unborn children, I guarantee that we would be protesting that as well. So we are completely consistent in protecting innocent human lives regardless of location and yes, we do care for life post-birth.
2. You can speak against moral evils all day, every day without being obligated to care for all the victims for life. If mothers were killing toddlers for the same reasons they give for abortions (money, career, love life, pressure from boyfriends/parents, etc.) would you stay quiet? Would you lodge the same criticism at those who spoke against toddler-cide without adopting all the children? Hopefully not. The question is whether the unborn are human beings. They are. At least that’s what all the embryology textbooks say. Just because they are smaller, more dependent, and in a unique environment (formerly synonymous with a safe place) doesn’t mean their lives aren’t worthy of protection. The right to life is a foundational human right.
3. The premise is false. Countless pro-lifers help women and children before and after birth with their own time and money. Pregnancy Resource Centers offer an array of free services. Planned Parenthood and the like make millions via abortion.
4. Asking the government to take money by force from others to supposedly help the poor does not qualify as charity on your part.
5. Do you criticize the American Cancer Society for not working on heart disease? If not, why are you being prideful about your preferred ministry over what others feel called to? That is, if you actually do anything for others at all. Using your logic, William Wilberforce didn’t do much because he “only” cared about abolishing the slave trade (not true, of course, as he did more than that, but it shows how ridiculous the pro-abortion argument is).
6. Unless they want forced abortions, pro-choicers have the same obligations to help that they put on pro-lifers.
7. The claim that we don’t care about the children outside the womb is demonstrably false. But even if their claim was true, it seems like the greater sin would be to approve of a child being literally crushed and dismembered rather than just not personally feeding someone else’s living child.
8. Imagine saying something similar to justify keeping slavery legal: “You think slavery is wrong but won’t help them get jobs, etc.”
9. Your basic reasoning is this: “It is OK to kill the child but not to risk her being impoverished.”
10. If you actually help them outside the womb with your money, we could swap labels and dismiss you: “You only help them outside but let them be killed inside.” Still illogical, but that’s what you get.