Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.
Followers of Jesus are being asked by politicos, pundits, and even some pastors, to abandon abortion as a decisive and vital issue in this year’s election. Instead, we are being urged to cast our votes based on other justice issues such as poverty, protecting the environment, and bringing the troops home from Iraq. There are three problems with this line of thinking.
First, the sanctity and dignity of life (which abortion destroys both physically and conceptually) is the cornerstone upon which all justice is built. All human rights are predicated first upon the right to life.
Thomas Jefferson understood this clearly when he wrote, and I quote, “The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”
For the believer, the value of each human life, no matter how young or old, derives from the belief that all humans are created by God and stamped with His image.
The second problem with abandoning the right to life issue for the sake of others is the nature of the disagreement between candidates on these other issues. All candidates agree that poverty should be ended and the environment protected-the debate surrounds the strategies to be used. Likewise, even the strongest supporters of the war in Iraq want to bring our active combat troops home-the argument is about how, under what circumstances, and when.
But abortion is different. On this issue, many candidates are diametrically opposed. There is no common ground. Their records are clear, and the contrasts are sharp.
The third reason we cannot lose focus on protecting the unborn is that so much work remains to be done. Despite a positive shift in public opinion on protecting unborn children, despite the addition of Supreme Court justices who seem to believe in the right to life, despite the passage of the Partial Birth Abortion Act and many parental notification and consent laws, the fact remains that abortion on demand is still the law of the land. And the death toll continues to rise every single day.
Since the passage of Roe vs. Wade in 1973, more than 48 million unborn children have perished-and only 7 percent of the women who had those abortions cited medical concerns, rape, or incest as their reasons. And those who promote abortions-they are flexing their muscle as never before. In Fiscal Year 2006-2007, Planned Parenthood took in over $1 billion in donations. They provide 20 percent of all abortions in the U.S., and took in $336 million in government funds-that is your taxes!
Believers must press candidates on the right to life this year. The so-called single-issue, pro-life voters are not single issue at all. Why? Because the dignity and sanctity of human life is a thread that connects virtually all humanitarian causes. They recognize that unless our country protects the most vulnerable of human life, all other issues touching upon human dignity are in peril-whether it is human trafficking, mental health, AIDS, poverty, victims’ rights, prisoners’ rights, or health care, just to name a few.
Indeed, if the life of the most innocent and defenseless among us — the unborn child — is not worth protecting, I ask you, my friend, whose is?