Monday, May 16, 2011

Why it is not inconsistent to be pro-life and anti-big-government

One critique of people who are pro-life is that we allegedly only care about saving a baby’s life, but then stop caring about that baby once it is born. That the fact that we generally do not support government-funded education, welfare, health care, etc means we are not “pro-life” when it comes to the actual everyday life of citizens.

The problem with this argument is that social welfare is not as analogous with abortion as people are trying to make it. Personally, I am pro-life because I think abortion is murder, and I believe murder should be illegal. When I vote for pro-life candidates or argue for pro-life legislation, the only thought on my mind is “I do not support abortion, because it is murder.” It would be the same as me thinking “I do not support a husband killing his wife in a fit of jealous rage, because murder is a crime.”

I am not thinking about how the wife should be treated if she lives. That is not the issue at hand. The issue at hand is whether a husband should be allowed to kill his wife in a fit of jealous rage or not. Why on earth would I be concerned about her life after or before this occasion (assuming her husband did not kill her) when that is not the issue at hand? Likewise, when I am voting on abortion policies, why should I be concerned about the welfare of a baby after he is born if that is not the issue at hand?

Certainly, I do care about the welfare of the baby, but I am not going to form my opinion about abortion based on my opinions of government involvement in welfare, education, etc. I do not support Big Government. I do not want government-funded health care. I do not want billions of dollars a year spent on education. I do not want a person unable to currently get a job to get welfare from the government.

In a society that does not condone murder, I would prefer the legal system at least try not to be hypocrites and make sure all murder –including abortion- is illegal. What happens to a person after they have been guaranteed a right to not be murdered is not my concern when it comes to that specific policy.

However, people think that just because I do not support the murder of unborn babies then I must also support liberal policy options in order to show my continued concern for the life of the baby. The general stereotype is “Pro-lifers are the only people that care more about a baby being born than they do about the life of the baby after it is born.” The fallacy of this stereotype is that people assume that simply because a person does not support government-funded programs that help “improve” life means that person does not care about the lives of their fellow citizens.

That most certainly is not the case. I do care about the life of a baby after he is born. I simply do not think the government needs to tax me in order to show my concern. If a baby is abused as a child, I do support government interference that will stop violence. I believe that is the right venue of regulation for government. Their role is most certainly to stop violence and abuse.

If the baby that was not aborted is raised in a home that is unable to provide him with the “necessities” of life, I do not think it is the role of the government to tax me so that the baby might have food and health care. I think it is the role of the community to help each other. More specifically, as a Christian, I think Christians in a community should set up charities to help people in their communities. Just because I am not a supporter of government-funded welfare does not mean I am not a supporter of human charity.

As that baby that was not aborted grows into an adult and finds he cannot find a job, I do not support the government giving him unemployment benefits. This does not mean I do not care for the man. Once again, I support local charities and communities. Friends or neighbors can help this man, provide him shelter, loan him money interest-free, help him find a job.

As the man grows older and his health fails him, I do not support government-funded health care. This does not mean I have stopped caring for the man. I still think his community can help him, show him compassion and charity.

Yes, I am pro-life. No, this does not mean I stop caring for a baby as soon as it is born.


  1. I speak as a Christian who has health insurance, and feels strongly about the healthcare issue because of life experience. I regard decent affordable health care as a public good, that should be available to anyone regardless of their socio-economic status. If you become seriously ill in the US, and you don't have health insurance, what happens to you?

  2. If you have neither health insurance nor adequate money to pay for medical bills in the US, you generally do not get treatment. (I'm not sure if that was a rhetorical question or not, so I answered)

    But just because the government does not provide health care does not mean your community cannot. That was my point. I do not stop caring for a child once he is born. I simply do not need to government's interference in order to make me care for a person. I can care for that person by praying for him, volunteering my time to help him, teaching him, being his friend, giving him money in time of need. Any number of things can be done to show charity and caring to a person without one needing the government to force you to do so.

  3. Thanks for your answer. I take your point. In Australia, our Medicare system is funded by a taxpayer levy, and has widespread popular support from the public, and from pretty much all sides of politics. Underlying this is the ethic of community and mutual support.

    Everyone is in it, including people like me who have private health insurance. I pay for this insurance myself; very few employers provide health insurance to their employees.

    I've had elective surgery a couple of times in the past 7 years, and because I had insurance, was able to have these operations fairly quickly.

    If you're uninsured, you have to go on an elective surgery waiting list. This can take years, even if you need a hip replacement, for example.

    Compared to Australia, as I understand it, the United States has a stronger culture of self-reliance. The downside of this is that it leads to selfishness and individualism, not that Australians aren't like that as well. I think it's part of Western culture.

  4. You're welcome. :)

    That's interesting how the medicare system works in Australia. I didn't know that.

    Yes, we do sort of have a culture of self-reliance. Depending on where you grow up, this could lead to selfishness (as you pointed out), or it could lead to a cautious form of charity.