Share with your friends










Submit

This article concludes Cole Brown’s two-part series. You can read part one here.

—–

“The government does not fund abortions”

When anyone calls for the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood there is a collective shout in response, “The government does not fund abortions!” The argument is this:

Premise A: You do not want abortion funded by the federal government.

Premise B: The federal government gives money to Planned Parenthood, but exclusively for services other than abortion.

Conclusion: Therefore, you should not have any issue with the federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

This argument seems to be rock-solid.

Unless you have the slightest bit of knowledge about how businesses work.

When businesses receive money for any one thing, it frees up the rest of their money to do other things. For example, you may be the type of person who only gives money to McDonald’s in exchange for their breakfast because you are, understandably, unwilling to personally endorse the rest of their menu. Yet the fact is, the more money you give them for breakfast, the more money you free up for them to make hamburgers, filet-o-fish sandwiches, and other immoral menu items. Of course, you only personally support the breakfast menu. But by adding to their financial resources, you are empowering them to continue doing the things you don’t support.

On the religious side of things, the American government does not require churches to pay taxes on any dollars donated to the church. By doing so, the government is obviously not directly “endorsing” the church’s message. Yet it is freeing up money that would not have otherwise been available to use for the purpose of propagating the church’s message. In the same way, by funding any aspect of Planned Parenthood, the federal government is proportionately increasing the money available for Planned Parenthood to fund and market all of its services — including abortions. Which means the government funds abortions – millions of them – and must answer for that.

“Only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions”

People love statistics. Nowhere is that more true than in the defense of Planned Parenthood as an organization. As quickly as one person can criticize Planned Parenthood for its treatment of babies, another person will cite the defensive claim that “Only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions.”

This is not a good idea for two reasons. First, because the statistic is deceptive, and has been rejected as such by multiple news sources. Slate’s Rachael Larimore even called it “the most meaningless abortion statistic ever.” Second, because even if the statistic were 100% true, only a James Bond villain would say it out loud and actually be foolish enough to consider it a compelling argument.

To illustrate the pure evil of using this statistic to defend an organization, imagine for a moment that I have a reputation for being a very generous guy (you will have to use your imagination). Every week I meet 100 people in need and every week I provide valuable resources, services, and assistance to 97 of these people. I do so with such compassion and skill that those 97 people tell anyone who will listen how much I helped them in their time of need and how they couldn’t have survived without me.

What do I do with the other three people?

I kill them.

But what’s the big deal? Murder is only 3% of the services I provide to people in need! The other 97% of my services are the very definition of compassion and community service. Just ask the people I’ve served — they’ll tell you!

You would not applaud me for my generosity, you would imprison me for my murder. On top of that, you would be utterly confused as to why I would offer the very statistic that condemns me as an argument in my defense. Yet this is exactly what we do when we appeal to the “only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions” statistic.

“The church needs to minimize abortions by caring for women, children & the poor”

When Christians make public statements about the need for the government to limit access to abortion services, both Christians and non-Christians alike tell them to redirect their focus. “Instead of focusing on defunding Planned Parenthood and changing the law,” they say, “the church should be focused on changing the circumstances that lead to abortion.” The better strategy, they say, would be for Christians en masse to adopt, provide foster care, fight for equitable wage for women, and the like.

At first glance, this response might seem good and true. The Church is called to actively care for the weak in both spiritual and material ways. There is a rapidly growing adoption and foster care movement among evangelical Christians for this very reason.

Yet the response is neither good nor true.

It is not good because it is nothing more than blame-shifting. Those who make this argument are drawing attention away from the problem of abortion and toward the Christian response to abortion. It’s actually a pretty impressive trick, as it puts the Christian response to abortion on trial instead of abortion itself. But it’s not an impressive argument. In fact, it’s not an argument at all. It’s an attempt to escape the argument using the very same strategy Adam and Eve used when they were caught in their sin (Genesis 3:10-13).

The response is also not true because it implies that one must choose to direct their energy to either political change or to practical assistance — but not to both — and that practical assistance is the better choice. Neither assumption holds water. It is the equivalent of saying, “Stop asking the government to prohibit, prosecute, and imprison murderers. Just be really nice to people. Then people will murder less.” In case you think that’s an unfair exaggeration (it’s not) we can use the real-life, contemporary illustration of racial justice.

It has been rightly stated that Christians can help make huge improvements in race relations and racial justice through membership in multi-ethnic churches. Yet no one is arguing that Christians should make this their only strategy. This should be combined with using our political voice to call our government, police, and justice system to account. Moreover, if someone were to only pursue racial justice through personal relationships, most of us would rebuke them for not fighting the systemic issues that so deeply affect those they are in personal relationships with.

It is fine to tell Christians that they can and should help improve the conditions that lead to higher abortion rates. It is quite another to tell them that they should do this instead of asking the government to do its job and protect the lives of innocent children. After all, social conditions don’t murder babies. But the governments who permit abortions do.

Conclusion

Again, this is not aimed at men or women who have been involved in abortions. This is aimed at all of us. Every one of us carries the responsibility of evaluating the convictions of our culture  — especially those that are generally accepted as common sense. We must be ever-critiquing the conversations and convictions of our culture, in order to avoid the danger of saying things that feel right or sound right, instead of what is right.

Privacy Preference Center