Pro-Life Commentary in the Christian Science Monitor

by Michael J. New

Earlier this month the Christian Science Monitor ran an op-ed by Marymount University undergraduate Elizabeth Jahr entitled “Pro-Life Groups Do Not Really Protect the Unborn.” As the pro-life position has gained in the court of public opinion, our opponents are spending less time arguing about the morality of abortion. Instead, they often try to make the case that pro-life efforts are either ineffective or misguided. Jahr’s op-ed was a prime example of this. She argued that the money spent on the March for Life and other political efforts would be better spent assisting women facing crisis pregnancies. This op-ed was reposted by Yahoo! News and received thousands of hits online.

On Tuesday, the Christian Science Monitor ran my response. I pointed out that the pro-life movement voluntarily donates millions of dollars to pregnancy-resource centers that assist thousands of women facing crisis pregnancies. Furthermore, the money that is spent on political and educational efforts is not wasted. There is a nice body of research showing that various types of incremental pro-life laws are effective at reducing the incidence of abortion. Additionally, pro-life educational efforts are partly responsible for the substantial gains in the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as “pro-life.”

The Christian Science Monitor also ran a response by Jeanneane Maxon who serves as the vice president of external affairs for Americans United for Life. Maxon argues that the March for Life has intrinsic value because it gives pro-lifers the chance to “reconfirm their belief in something larger than themselves.” Maxon also argues that it is inadequate to draw conclusions about the entire pro-life movement based on a limited observation of the March for Life. The pro-life movement includes thousands of volunteers who staff pregnancy resource centers across the country. It also includes legal groups who invest resources defending laws which help women make informed decisions and protect them from unscrupulous abortion providers.

The Christian Science Monitor also ran a brief letter from a pastor who seemed sympathetic to Jahr’s argument. Another letter was  from a former owner of an abortion clinic who complained that pro-life activists do not support more generous welfare programs. Still, the Christian Science Monitor deserves praise for giving pro-lifers ample space to respond to Jahr’s misleading assertions.

— Michael J. New is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan – Dearborn and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New