In case you’re thinking about voting for trump because he’s pro-life, think again. Despite his 11th hour “conversion” to pro-life talking points, he is certainly the most pro-death candidate in the race.
I’m not the first to make this point. Matthew Lee Anderson at Mere Orthodoxy makes this point very well from a consevative perspective, Rachel Held Evans makes it from a progressive perspective, and Shannon Dingle has made it well from a largely non political perspective.
Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson all oppose increasing restrictions on abortion. They’re “Pro-Choice” as the terms go.
Clinton has repeatedly said that while she does not want to ban abortions, she wants to make them rare, largely through education and contraceptive access that will prevent unwanted pregnancies, and also through an increased social safety net.
Donald Trump has shared the same pro-choice opinion for his entire career, until he realized he needed evangelical votes to win. Since then he’s “seen the light” and worked in some anti-abortion talking points. Few people believe he’s actually going to follow through on any of it.
The American Solidarity Party is strongly pro-life, but they aren’t on many states’ ballots.
The Lancet and the Guttmacher Institute have both found that, worldwide, abortion rates don’t go down when the penalties for abortion go up.
Instead, the lowest abortion rates are present when a greater social safety net takes away the “desperation abortion,” and where contraception and education about contraception is freely and easily available.
Think about it: prohibition didn’t work on alcohol in the 1920’s. The drug war hasn’t settled people from doing drugs, and gun bans don’t stop criminals from getting weapons, even when the whole country bans them (Mexico, for example).
Back alley abortions are extremely easy to do, much easier than constructing or smuggling an illegal gun, or even making meth.
A lot of people present the typical abortion as involving some self-involved, cosmopolitan, well-off woman who just can’t be bothered to fit a baby into her busy social schedule, or who doesn’t want to lose her tight abs and gain post-pregnancy stretch marks.
That’s a great talking point for the Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akins of the world, but that’s really all it is. Abortions mostly happen because women are struggling just to survive (and take care of any kids they already have), and don’t think they can take care of another child. In fact, according to The Lancet, married women are the most likely to get an abortion.
Increasing the social safety net takes away that fear factor, and abortion rates adjust downward, naturally. Providing easier access to contraception also reduces abortion, so the Hobby Lobby’s of the world’s can’t really call themselves pro life in any meaningful way.
During Reagan and Bush 1’s Presidencies, abortion rates began to fall. During Clinton’s presidency, they fell rapidly. During Bush 2’s Presidency, the abortion rate fell, but more slowly. During the Obama Presidency, the abortion rate fell 13%, a faster fall than under any of the Republican Presidents.
So while the abortion rates have been falling overall, there’s no reason to believe they’d fall faster under Trump than under Clinton, and some small evidence to believe the reverse might be true.
So that leads us to other aspects of being “pro-life.”
I mean, if you only care about abortion rates, you’re not really pro-life, just anti-abortion. And what good is that, really?
- Clinton is certainly less likely to get us into another ground war. To be sure, she’ll use air power liberally (no pun intended), and kill far more people than I’d find acceptable, but Trump will almost certainly do much, much worse things.
- A former CIA diector has labeled Trump a threat to national security.
- Clinton is less likely to tear families apart through bigoted and impractical mass deportation scenarios (Muslims, Mexicans, or whoever Trump names off next).
- Oh, and speaking of worse things: Clinton is against torture, while Trump has advocated torturing and killing the families of suspected terrorists. This is unspeakably evil, a literal crime against humanity.
- Clinton is far more likely to reform our justice system, bringing some reduction in the number of people killed by police and the outrageous percentage of our population that we keep incarcerated (more than any other sizable country, by a huge margin).
- Clinton is more likely to support policies that will support families and mothers, like paid maternal leave, widespread health insurance, and social safety nets for economically disadvantaged mothers-to-be.
- Clinton pushed for CHIP, a program that has provided medical care for huge numbers of otherwise uninsured children over the last 19 years.
- Trump has been accused of sexual assault by several women, and his hateful misogyny is clear. I don’t know if this matters to the pro-life crusaders, but it matters to me.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that some of the third party candidates might be just as pro-life or more so. Stein and Johnson are much more dovish than Clinton. The American Solidarity Party is dovish, pro-safety net, and anti-abortion in every way. They are also anti-LGBT+ rights and borderline theocratic, so your mileage may vary.
At any rate, none of them have a viable chance in November. They didn’t even meet the threshold to be included in the debates.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote third-party. Just be realistic about the outcome.
Trump or Clinton will be our next President.
As far as lives lost and destroyed go, I think there’s really no question. Fewer people – born and unborn alike – will be killed, maimed, and tortured under a Clinton Presidency than under a Trump Presidency. Bottom line.
And that means Hillary Clinton is as close to pro-life as we’re gonna get this year.