Being Pro-Life Means Being Pro-Family
Having kids is hard; conservatives should work to make it easier.
The wailing and howling over Texas’s abortion law has resumed after a federal judge from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled an injunction against the law from Judge Robert Pittman. The law essentially bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which happens around the sixth week of pregnancy. Already, it has saved hundreds of unborn babies from abortion. Unfortunately, abortion facilities like Whole Women’s Health performed “several abortions Thursday after Judge Pitman’s ruling, but before the appeals court announced its decision.”
As if with one voice, the corporate media and Democrats continue to do all they can to discredit the law and the pro-life movement in general. President Biden calls the law “un-American.” At MSNBC, Chris Hayes denounced the law as “egregious.” Actress Jennifer Lawrence (who’s currently pregnant) took to protesting the law in Washington, D.C., while singer Billie Eilish took the opportunity at a recent concert to bash the law, yelling to her audience, “But then I remembered that it’s you guys that are the f—king victims, and you deserve everything in the world. And we need to tell them to shut the f—k up!”
For all the volume and star power though, the arguments from the pro-abortion left seem rather weak and tedious. Nearly all of them can be overruled with the same point. They will insist that this is about a woman’s health, her freedom, her future, and her empowerment. However, none of these points address the real problem: preserving the lives of unborn children.
Nevertheless, abortion advocates will make these same arguments again and again, and pro-life apologists will repeat their rebuttal again and again. Often pro-lifers will support their case by going into detail about abortion laws and the science of conception and pregnancy. Or they will go the other direction and depict the gruesomeness of abortion.
While emphasizing the physical and emotional reality of the baby in the womb certainly helps, many on the other side still remain unconvinced. Why? There are a few possible reasons.
It could be that pro-abortion advocates are simply brainwashed by all the propaganda. Seeing that most Americans spend an average of 4 to 6 hours a day on their phones, the concerted effort of every large media outlet is bound to influence how one thinks (or doesn’t think) about the issue. One can imagine public opinion being quite different if people collectively put away their screens long enough to think about the positions they unconsciously assume.
Another reason is that abortion has morphed into a quasi-religion in which the dogma has disabled people’s reasoning capacity. In light of the rituals, iconography, and articles of faith assumed by pro-abortion activists, this has to be considered. One can call these types extremists, but they are the ones who have effectively shifted the goalposts from “safe, legal, and rare” to “shout your abortion”—and pushed many pro-lifers to moderate their own positions from banning abortion outright to banning late-term abortions or partial birth abortions.
Aside from these two factors, there is another reason that pro-life arguments seem to fall on deaf ears. In my conversations with the other side, most people who support abortion don’t really view the issue as one of personhood, life, or freedom. Rather, they will simply declare that having a baby is really hard. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and takes enormous effort and patience.
This seems like an obvious point, and it is, but it’s likely the main reason otherwise moderate people support abortion. And it is why otherwise moderate people believe the poor need to have access to abortion most of all, since they are deemed far too ignorant, impoverished, and incompetent to have children properly. As such, in a world where so many areas of life have been made easier, the option to “cancel” one’s pregnancy and parenthood seems logical and fitting. By contrast, requiring a mother to keep her child and do something really hard seems unfair—and sexist, since men don’t have to do it.
It’s important to recognize that this reasoning accounts for declining birth rates as well. All the reasons normally given for not starting a family can be boiled down to the sheer difficulty of having children and raising them. Being responsible for oneself (“adulting”) is hard enough for most people without the added burden of children.
To this, some may contend that the mother can put her child up for adoption, and this is true. However, it tends to gloss over the rigors of pregnancy, the attachment a mother develops to her child during pregnancy, and the visceral connection a child shares with his or her biological parents. Adoption is a much better option than abortion, but, as Katy Faust explains in her book Them Before Us, it inflicts a “primal wound” on both the parent and the child.
In all fairness to other side, I agree that it really is hard to have children, particularly in a culture that is increasingly anti-family. As a father myself, I can attest to the sacrifices my wife and I have to make to keep our children healthy, happy, and safe. It is emotionally, intellectually, and sometimes physically exhausting. And somehow this doesn’t become any easier with more education or income.
For all that, however, the very difficulties that come with having children are also what make it so fulfilling. Although I miss things like traveling abroad, sleeping in, or going to a store without having to lead a caravan of kids through the aisles, this is more than compensated by the joy of being a father. It is wonderful to see my children grow and observe my own personal growth in the process. It is a joy born of virtue and love, something that doesn’t come from the relative ease and recreation of child-free living.
In order to make progress in turning Americans against abortion, the pro-life movement needs to give as much attention to parenthood as it does to personhood. More than simply learning that abortion is the equivalent of murder, adults of childbearing age need to feel supported and encouraged in having children—and yes, that might mean rethinking public policy and cultural institutions. So long as these practical challenges of having children go unacknowledged, many people won’t really care whether life starts at conception or when a person is old enough to vote Democrat.
In other words, the pro-life movement needs to also become a pro-family movement. This is the only way to overcome the culture of death that seems to pervade nearly every institution. True, raising a family and becoming a parent is hard, but it is also much more than this. It is an adventure that brings meaning and purpose to life.
Auguste Meyrat is an English teacher in the Dallas area. He holds an MA in Humanities and an MEd in Educational Leadership. He is the senior editor of The Everyman and has written essays for the Federalist, the American Thinker, Crisis magazine, The American Conservative, and the Imaginative Conservative, as well as the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.