Do pro-lifers care about people who are already born?

From Ruth Blog – a post to answer the objection that pro-lifers don’t care about babies after they are born.

Here’s the challenge:

One of the most frequently repeated truisms of the abortion debate is that pro-lifers really don’t care about life. As much as they talk about protecting the unborn, we are told, pro-lifers do nothing to support mothers and infants who are already in the world. Liberal writers such as Matthew Yglesias are given to observing that pro-lifers believe that “life begins at conception and ends at birth.” At Commonweal, David Gibson, a journalist who frequently covers the abortion debate, asks how much pro-lifers do for mothers: “I just want to know what realistic steps they are proposing or backing. I’m not sure I’d expect to hear anything from pro-life groups now since there’s really been nothing for years.”

And an excerpt from the response:

In the United States there are some 2,300 affiliates of the three largest pregnancy resource center umbrella groups, Heartbeat International, CareNet, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA). Over 1.9 million American women take advantage of these services each year. Many stay at one of the 350 residential facilities for women and children operated by pro-life groups. In New York City alone, there are twenty-two centers serving 12,000 women a year. These centers provide services including pre-natal care, STI testing, STI treatment, ultrasound, childbirth classes, labor coaching, midwife services, lactation consultation, nutrition consulting, social work, abstinence education, parenting classes, material assistance, and post-abortion counseling.

[…]The Catholic Church–perhaps the single most influential pro-life institution in the United States–makes the largest financial, institutional and personnel commitments to charitable causes of any private source in the United States. These include AIDS ministry, health care, education, housing services, and care for the elderly, disabled, and immigrants. In 2004 alone, 562 Catholic hospitals treated over 85 million patients; Catholic elementary and high schools educated over 2 million students; Catholic colleges educated nearly 800,000 students; Catholic Charities served over eight-and-a-half million different individuals. In 2007, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development awarded nine million dollars in grants to reduce poverty. And in 2009, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network spent nearly five million dollars in services for impoverished immigrants.

The Catholic Church is far from the only pro-life religious group that assists the needy. At the Manhattan Bible Church, a pro-life church in New York since 1973, Pastor Bill Devlin and his congregation run a soup kitchen that has served over a million people and a K-8 school that has educated 90,000 needy students. Pastor Devlin and other church families have adopted scores of babies, and taken in scores of pregnant women, including some who were both drug-addicted and HIV positive. The church runs a one-hundred-and-fifty bed residential drug rehabilitation center and a prison ministry at Rikers Island. All told, the church runs some forty ministries, and all without a government dime.

[….]If pro-life Americans provide so many (often free) services to the poor and vulnerable–work easily discovered by any researcher or journalist with an Internet connection–why are they sometimes accused of caring only for life inside the womb? Quite possibly, it is the conviction of abortion advocates that “caring for the born” translates first and always into advocacy for government programs and funds. In other words, abortion advocates appear to conflate charitable works and civil society with government action. The pro-life movement does not. Rather, it takes up the work of assisting women and children and families, one fundraiser and hotline and billboard at a time.

People think that abortion providers do a lot for women’s health, but Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide mammograms.

You may be interested in this post by Neil Simpson, who volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center.


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?

[…]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.

On a completely different topic, I posted an article by Helen Alvare a while back. She is one of the authors of this article. There was a pretty good dispute with a single mother who disagreed her comments to that article.

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8 thoughts on “Do pro-lifers care about people who are already born?”

  1. I know the Washington state area Catholic Churches have a special drive during the 40 days for life to get massive amounts of baby supplies gathered up.

    Even folks who are hard up can manage to put something together for a mother in trouble– my favorite are clasp diaper bags, especially since I got a lot of free samples from my OBGYN so I could make some REALLY nice ones. It’s just any small, pretty purse type bag that can hold a few diapers, a slim pack of wipes, a receiving cloth, powder, cream, a garbage bag and some of the odds and ends that are handy with a little one. They’re great when you’re running to a small bathroom to try to change a diaper.

    Lots of re-gifted baby clothes, too, often still on the hangers. Mountains of diapers. New toys, probably also re-gifted. (I know my Kit didn’t need four teddy bears, or a half-dozen rattles.)

    The slur is just ignorant slander; I’m sad to say I’ve never seen anyone who paid any attention to the facts when offered. Really darkly amusing because the same ones who claim it will sometimes then complain about post-abortion mentoring.

    Oh, and don’t forget:
    the Sisters of Life are awesome!


    1. I think it’s something that the pro-aborts say amongst themselves – it’s not something they really are prepared to voice in a debate situation. A pro-abortion professor might say it to his students, but that’s because he is grading them. And woe to the student who talks back. It’s just one of these axiomatic things that liberals believe without testing – like man-made catastrophic global warming.


      1. *smiles* People often think they can bully me into agreement in reality.

        Good thing, too– if they didn’t get impolite, I wouldn’t be rude enough to disagree with them.


  2. Good points.

    And even if pro-lifers don’t focus “enough” on women (which you’ve shown isn’t the case), does that make their opposition to abortion any less valid?

    A metaphor: did northern abolitionists “care” about individual slaves who had been freed periodically throughout the 1800s? Maybe, but they probably kept their eyes on the larger cause of outlawing slavery altogether. That didn’t make the anti-slavery movement “wrong.”


  3. This is an interesting post. As an avid pro-choice liberal, I obviously support the right to abortion, but I’ve always found myself disturbed by my fellow liberals’ claims that pro-lifers (and conservatives in general) don’t care about helping women and babies once they’re born. It just didn’t fit with the pro-lifers I’ve encountered, most of whom hold their views due to compassion (as, ironically, do I). I think we all come from the same point of origin–trying to make life better for people and to create a society that aligns with our morals–but we end up at different conclusions. And that’s fine by me.


    1. Hi Miriam,

      Thanks for your comments. I know you may often debate pro-lifers here or elsewhere so I just wanted, on our behalf, to thank you for your honesty.


  4. The question has been asked” when does life begin?” The question should be “of what value is life?” Either life is of value all of the time or none of the time. We cannot have it both ways. Our most vulnerable remain endangered because they are not allowed a voice, let alone their first breath. If they do survive inside the womb, they may then,by law, decide if their own unborn live or die. Much like the crowds at the gladiator events who rose or lowered their thumbs to decide the fate of someone other than themselves.


  5. When I went to a pregnancy care clinic to get a “free” pregnancy test, the people were only interested in scaring me about abortion and giving me information on adoption services. If I knew how they were going to harrass me, I would have never gone there. At no time did they mention any help available to me if I decided to keep the baby. They did not inquire about my support system. When my boyfriend and I decided to have the baby, people of the pregnancy care clinic called me twice to check to see if I was really going to keep the baby. The first time was a few weeks before my due date, and the second was a couple of weeks after my daughter was born. I felt they were really trying to get me to consider adoption even though I had told the first caller unequivocably that I was keeping the baby. I had already married my boyfriend, in fact. I really got the impression that I was nothing but a potential breeder to them.
    I do not doubt that the current workers at pregnancy care centers are better trained now, but that training simply hides their indifference to the lives of women, in my opinion.
    The Catholic charities do a lot for the poor where I live, but it is still a drop in the bucket compared to the need. Also, the Catholic church’s stance on birth control and its obsession with sex as sin creates much unnecessary suffering. So they absolutely should try to alleviate it. The poor do not care where help comes from. The idea that government crowds out charitable giving is ludicrous. If anything, the tax exemptions greatly increase charitable giving.


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