The Corner

Politics & Policy

You’re Not Really Pro-Life Unless You Support Higher Taxes

We’ll call this the misdirection that never dies. Since Roe, abortion advocates have been confronting pro-life advocates with the accusation that they’re not “really” pro-life unless they support the Left’s economic agenda, including a massive welfare state. I was taunted with that claim in law school, I’ve heard it every year of pro-life advocacy since, and even after the most recent round of brutal Planned Parenthood videos, the Left is still at it. This quote, from Sister Joan Chittister, is burning up the Left side of the Internet (147,000 shares and counting):

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

Hidden within this argument is the notion that a baby is better off dead than poor, but the Left has been backing off this claim ever since explicit arguments for eugenics fell out of favor. Moreover, the reliance on state-funded welfare as the cornerstone of compassion ignores not just the Christian community’s enormous private generosity but also the economic reality that the free enterprise system has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic engine devised by the mind of man.

It’s just pure slander to claim that pro-life activists don’t want children fed, educated, or housed. But it’s a mistake to treat this argument as if it’s made in good faith. Want proof that it’s nothing but a misdirection? Ask an abortion activist whether they’d agree to outlaw abortion at any level of taxation or welfare. Given that abortion radicals are happy to see women abort even to preserve a short-lived career as a professional volleyball player, it’s clear that a community could reach a level of peak liberal compassion and they’d still zealously guard the right to kill with impunity. After all, the true concern isn’t for child welfare but for transient notions of adult fulfillment, and no level of taxation will cure the selfishness of the human heart.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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