Does religion hurt the pro-life movement?

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When I was a teenager, I always believed that abortion was wrong. As a new Catholic, my faith certainly led me to believe that I was pro-life. However, I remember asking my mother how it was that I could force my religious beliefs and morals onto other people who didn’t feel the same way. She didn’t really have an answer, and that was something I struggled with for years.

This is an inherent weakness in the pro-life movement: the inability to separate religion from our cause. How many people are we alienating when pro-life is practically synonymous with Christianity? This is one of the biggest clubs pro-aborts are able to beat us with. In a country that glorifies the separation of church and state, it’s easy to assume that if you’re aren’t an overly religious person, there’s no room for you in the pro-life movement.

Think about how much pro-aborts are able to capitalize on that. They claim that pro-lifers are forcing our morals and our religion onto everyone else. It not only makes abortion an even more divisive issue than it already is, but it makes people who aren’t religious feel as if they don’t belong.

Albany Rose, whose emotional video about reclaiming her abortion records went viral, has some experience with this. “I consider myself a Modern Deist,” she explained. “I believe in God, I believe in all He did for us. But I don’t believe in the bible or Christianity.” Instead of being welcomed into the pro-life movement, she’s felt that it often leaves her vulnerable to be attacked, saying, “I swear that it paints the biggest ‘come get me’ sign on my forehead!”

Most people who consider themselves atheists or non-religious don’t identify as pro-life – at least not publicly. Many of them probably feel the same way I did as a teenager: personally pro-life, but not wanting to force their morals onto anyone else. Add in that the pro-life movement is composed almost entirely of Christians using Bible verses to try to convert pro-aborts, and it can easily make someone shy away from pro-lifers. “When people stand strong in their faith, there is a beauty to it,” Rose explained. “So many people in the pro-life movement are hurting us because they believe the only way to ‘convert a choicer’ is to spew biblical quotes and tell them to repent. That even makes me not want to be pro-life much of the time.”

Why is there such an emphasis on using Christianity as a persuasive tool among pro-lifers? As Scott Klusendorf has pointed out, the science is on our side. This is ultimately what made my teenage self realize that this wasn’t an issue of forcing my religious beliefs onto someone else. They have nothing to do with being pro-life. It has to do with the inherent right of a human being to live, regardless of where they reside or how weak or vulnerable they may be.

A baby, at the moment of conception, already has a separate DNA strand from her mother. This person may only be a tiny embryo, but she is not part of her mother. The baby lives in the mother’s uterus, but from the very beginning, even when she is only a single cell, she is a completely separate being. Not only is religion not needed to convert people to the pro-life cause, but it can actually be alienating and harmful. In fact, we’re simply giving pro-aborts fuel for the fire when we focus on religion.

None of this is to say that religion has no place in the pro-life movement. I think that it is often religious organizations that do the most good for women seeking alternatives to abortion, through pregnancy and adoption assistance, as well as through helping post-abortive women to heal through ministries such as Rachel’s Vineyard. But using religion as a method to convert people can, too much of the time, not only turn people off to what it is we’re trying to accomplish, but create outright hostility towards us.

Pro-aborts are going through their own issues with being divided right now. That means that now, more than ever, we need to be united. We can’t afford to alienate people or lose credibility – not when we have the science of fetal development and embryology on our side. Think of how we could cripple the pro-aborts if we were able to take away their argument of “forcing our religious beliefs onto others.” That would be one less weapon in their arsenal to attack pro-lifers with. How much stronger would the pro-life movement be if we made religion less of a central focus?

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