How do we protect unborn children? And which ones?

As I think about the abortion debate in Christian culture and the political arena I am both heartened and disappointed. First, I am terribly frustrated that politicians use it to grab votes but have yet to do anything substantive to reduce the number of abortions in this country. Second, I have a great deal of respect for people who make it one of their main priorities to stand up for children in the womb, but I am also incredibly disappointed that this advocacy more often than not doesn't exist on either end of the nine months of pregnancy.

Like all acts of love and service, it is often much easier to think about it, have an opinion about it, blog about it, even attend a rally, than it is to support a young mother, build relationships with kids who need mentors, and step outside of the daily list of to-do's long enough to make a real impact in the life of a child.

And that's only the beginning of the discussion. In places like Sierra Leone, one in eight women die during pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a one in 76 average in the rest of the developing world, and one in 4,800 in the United States. This video tells the story of one of these women.

According to UNICEF, high infant and maternal mortality rates in Sierra Leone are caused by an underinvestment in health programs, malnutrition, and harmful cultural practices like female genital mutilation. Although it is one of the poorest countries in the world, Sierra Leone is doing much better than it was even a few years ago. Still, women and children are dying there every day. I believe this is something that we should be treating with the same level of moral indignation as we do the abortion issue in this country. I am certain that people do care about these stories and these families, but they are incredibly complex issues, so it is much more difficult to have an opinion.

But here's the reality: we don't have to know all the answers to be moved to action. There are approximately 3,700 abortions per day in the US, which is incredibly tragic. And demands action. Another tragedy demanding action is this: 30,000 children under the age of five die each day from preventable illness, and the infant mortality rate is approximately fifty times higher in the developing world than in our world. That is an immense injustice that we can hold our politicians accountable to. We don't have a lot of control over the sovereignty of governments, but we do have the ability to hold governments accountable to just policies (both theirs and ours), such as not forcing poor countries to deregulate their markets as a condition for trading agreements or development assistance. Faulty agreements like this have been part of the reason why almost all African countries now have a lower per-capita income than they did in 1980. And poverty kills.

Let's stop caring about, having opinions on, and voting on one issue. Let's care about, have opinions on, and vote for all life. It's more complicated, but it's our moral obligation.


  1. thanks Penny... I'm always a little bit amazed by coupling of pro-lfe politics with what I consider to be Darwinian free market economics. In the womb, we'll protect you, but as soon you're born, you're on your own baby! I really can't wrap my mind around that contradictory line of thinking.

  2. Amen! Thank you for writing this, Penny. This year, especially, i feel i'm the only one saying this among my family and friends. It's good to know i'm not alone.

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  4. I don't know, Penny. You can't sway me from being a one-issue voter.

    This year, my one-issue is clean water for rural Californians.

    If a politician doesn't care about clean water, then how can they care about anything else in the world?

    (I just watched "Erin Brockovich".)

  5. Thanks, Penny. This concept is so clear and simple. I wish more folks would take logical steps beyond political zealotry become pro-life in every way.

  6. Preach it Penny! I so agree with you. ALL life is sacred....even life that is outside the united states and older than a neonate.

  7. I have to admit that I have not really taken much interest in our trade agreements with other countries, which means that I don't know squat about the impact outside of the US. But ever since I have started moving to a holistic pro-life perspective, I am definitely trying to become more aware of the impact on life in every area of government, economics, and cultural perspectives.

    Thank you, Penny, for making this strong point.