Or, put another way, I believe the sacred personhood of an individual begins before birth and continues throughout life, and I believe that sacred personhood is worth protecting, whether it’s tucked inside a womb, waiting on death row, fleeing Syria in search of a home, or playing beneath the shadow of an American drone.
I’ve also voted for both pro-life and pro-choice candidates for political office, including Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008, and George W. Bush in 2004 and 2000.
So I speak as someone who has struggled with, and in some cases regretted, her decisions at the ballot box, and who recognizes no single political party boasts a consistent pro-life ethic, just as no single political party embodies the teachings of Jesus or the values of his Kingdom. (If you think this is the first year your vote fails to reflect Christian principles, I’ve got some bad news.) I speak too as someone acutely aware of the inconsistencies and uncertainties in my own pro-life convictions, which continue to be challenged and changed in the midst of lived experience.
While I’ve written in the past about feeling caught between the pro-life and pro-choice camps, I’ve never used my platform to endorse a presidential candidate. But as so many others have said, this year is different.Knowing many of my pro-life friends feel torn between voting for an unpopular but highly qualified pro-choice candidate in Hillary Clinton and an incompetent narcissist who poses a unique threat to our American democracy in Donald Trump, I’d like to make a proposal:
You should vote for Hillary Clinton.
And I’d like to suggest that voting for a pro-choice candidate in this election, or any election, need not overburden your conscience.
In the eight years since we’ve had a pro-choice president, the abortion rate in the U.S. has dropped to its lowest since 1973. I believe the best way to keep this trend going is not to simply make it harder for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies but to create a culture with fewer unwanted pregnancies to begin with. Data suggests progressive social policies that make healthcare and childcare more affordable, make contraception more accessible, alleviate poverty, and support a living wage do the most to create such a culture, while countries where abortion is simply illegal see no change in the abortion rate.
By focusing exclusively on the legal components of abortion while simultaneously opposing these family-friendly social policies, the Republican Party has managed to hold pro-life voters hostage with the promise of outlawing abortion, (which has yet to happen under any Republican administrations since Roe v. Wade), while actively working against the very policies that would lead to a significant reduction in unwanted pregnancies.
So even though I think abortion is morally wrong in most cases, and support more legal restrictions around it, I often vote for pro-choice candidates when I think their policies will do the most to address the health and economic concerns that drive women to get abortions in the first place. For me, it’s not just about being pro-birth; it’s about being pro-life. Every child deserves to live in a home and in a culture that welcomes them and can meet their basic needs. Every mother deserves the chance to thrive. Forcing millions of women to have children they can’t support, or driving them to Gosnell-style black market clinics, will not do. We have to work together—pro-life and pro-choice, Democrat and Republican, conservative Christian and progressive Christian—to create a culture of life that celebrates families and makes it easier to have and raise kids. This is the only way to make our efforts at rarifying abortion truly sustainable.
This year, Hillary Clinton has better policy proposals to help improve the lives of women, children, and families than Donald Trump, whose pro-life convictions are lukewarm at best, and whose mass deportation plan would rip hundreds of thousands of families apart, whose contempt for Latinos, Muslims, refugees and people with disabilities would further marginalized the “least of these” among us, and whose support for torture and targeting civilians in war call into question whether Christians who support him are truly pro-life or simply anti-abortion.