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  • Paul Stark

Here's why we should vote for pro-life candidates

Health care. Education. Immigration. The environment. Gun policy.


Abortion is just one of numerous political issues that citizens may take into consideration when deciding how to vote. But abortion is actually very different from the others. Three factors together make the importance of abortion utterly unique.

What makes abortion extraordinarily important

The first factor is the scale of abortion. More than 10,000 human beings are killed through abortion in Minnesota each year, according to the Department of Health. In 2016 (the latest year for which general health data is available), abortion caused 10,017 deaths while 9,845 Minnesotans died of cancer and 7,823 died of heart disease. That makes abortion the leading cause of human death in the state.

The same is true nationwide. Abortion accounts for the deaths of more than 900,000 human beings each year. Heart disease is the next leading cause at just over 600,000 deaths.

Abortion represents a simply staggering loss of human life.

The second factor is the injustice of abortion. Many people die from diseases like cancer and heart disease, and that's a tragedy that calls for a compassionate response. But it's not an injustice. It's not intentional killing or a violation of anyone's rights. Abortion is intentional killing. Abortion is a violation of the right to life.

Of course, abortion isn't the only form of unjust killing. Some people, for example, are unjustly killed in school shootings and acts of gang violence. Fortunately, however, that killing is illegal. The rights of the victims are protected by law, and the government at least aims to prevent such terrible crimes. The rights of the victims of abortion, by contrast, are ignored or denied. Killing them is permitted by law and even, in many cases, subsidized with public money.

This is the third distinguishing factor—the inequality of abortion. A whole class of innocent human beings is excluded from society's protection against lethal violence. Consequently, that class of innocent human beings is destroyed on an industrial scale. This is abortion in America. It's like nothing else.

That doesn't mean other issues and concerns aren't important. Many issues are deeply important. But the scale, injustice, and inequality of abortion make it a uniquely serious problem in American society today.

Why the pro-life view is true

One could reject this conclusion, however, if one rejects the pro-life view of abortion. That view is based on three ideas.

First, the idea that human embryos and fetuses, the individuals killed by abortion, are living members of the species Homo sapiens. That's a fact established by the science of embryology.

Second, the idea that all human beings matter—that every member of our species, irrespective of age and size and ability, has a right not to be intentionally killed. This is a fundamental principle of human dignity.

Third, the idea that the government ought to protect basic human rights—that all human beings deserve equal protection of their rights under the law. The United States was literally founded on this conviction.

The pro-life view, then, is that every member of the human family counts, including unborn children and their mothers, and that every one of us deserves the protection of the law. If this view is true, then abortion must be at the very top of our list of societal and political concerns.

And we should vote accordingly.

How elected officials make a difference

Some people wonder, though, whether elected officials actually affect abortion in a meaningful way. Do pro-life candidates make any difference at all once in office?

The answer is yes. The candidates we elect to office shape our laws and policies. State lawmakers pass abortion-related legislation. Governors choose to sign it into law or veto it. Governors also appoint judges who may decide the fate of such laws. Members of Congress pass legislation at the federal level, and senators vote to confirm or reject nominees to the federal judiciary, which wields the power to uphold abortion laws or wipe them out.

These laws and policies influence the practice of abortion. Research shows that laws that limit abortion, empower women, and increase protection for the unborn—even very modest ones (the kind permitted under restrictions currently imposed by the judiciary)—help reduce the incidence of abortion. Laws that expand or subsidize abortion, on the other hand, increase the number of unborn children who are killed.

The election of pro-life candidates, at both the state and federal levels, has led to enactment of pro-life laws. And those laws have saved many lives from abortion. The election of candidates who support abortion, by contrast, has helped thwart or reverse such efforts.

In Minnesota, for example, the election of pro-life legislators and a pro-life governor produced abortion-reducing laws like Woman's Right to Know and Positive Alternatives. Over the last eight years, a pro-life Legislature passed about a dozen other pro-life measures, but those bills were vetoed by a governor committed to unfettered abortion.

Elections have life-or-death consequences.

We should vote pro-life

If every human being matters, then human beings in utero matter. And that means abortion is a uniquely important problem in America today. It is a large-scale injustice and a rejection of human equality that is unlike other political issues.

The candidates we elect to office will either increase or decrease this injustice. They will act in a way that saves lives or costs them. They will make our society either more or less inclusive and protective of human rights.

We can, and we should, use our vote to make a positive difference. We should vote pro-life.

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