Apparently, a letter has been written to GOP leaders by conservative homosexuals and some tea-party activists requesting that the GOP lay off its traditional pro-life stance. That would be horrible for many reasons. One reason: In actuality, de-emphasizing life issues is a threat to conservative notions about limited government and individual liberty.
The very first thing that has to be made clear is that those in the culture of death themselves strongly believe that social issues and economic issues are linked. The pro-death camp is perfectly able to present their “social issues” in economic terms. Not only are they able, but they are happy to do so.
A brief glance at history reveals this to be utterly obvious and conclusively true. To take one prominent example, the eugenics movement was very concerned about improving the race, but it was more than that. Activists’ position on these “social issues” was closely connected to the economic realities on the ground as they perceived them, as this quote from Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) will quickly corroborate:
The problem of the dependent, delinquent and defective elements in modern society, we must repeat, cannot be minimized because of their small numerical proportion to the rest of the population. … The actual dangers can only be fully realized when we have acquired definite information concerning the financial and cultural cost of these classes to the community, when we become fully cognizant of the burden of the imbecile upon the whole human race; when we see the funds that should be available for human development, for scientific artistic and philosophic research, being diverted annually, by hundreds of millions of dollars, to the care and segregation of men, women, and children who never should have been born. [“Pivot of Civilization,” page 99-100]
Planned Parenthood on its own website right now says, “Sanger’s early efforts remain the hallmark of Planned Parenthood’s mission.” If PP believes, as it surely does, that social issues like abortion are linked to economics, how foolish would it be for the economic conservative to believe – or behave, at any rate – as though they aren’t linked?
You can see the lurking argument ready to be posed: “You want to save society money, right? You want to cut the costs of our social services? Well, paying for an abortion is a lot cheaper than paying for that child’s future retirement costs and all the social services required to keep them alive and their medical bills for the 85 years of their lives. Don’t you want to keep the costs of universal health care down? Fewer people to take care of means fewer costs.”
See how it works? It’s just economics under discussion. No social issues here!
Attempting to limit one’s considerations as a conservative to fiscal issues doesn’t only turn a blind eye to the other side’s view that abortion, euthanasia and other explicitly pro-death “social issues” can and should be understood in economic terms. Freedom itself is at stake, for, as it happens, economics and individual liberty are closely connected.
History again instructs.
It is not hard to find people who put forward the argument that communism and socialism are only economic systems. Might we wonder why, then, wherever communism (just an economic system!) has gone, millions of bodies are left strewn behind it? Might we wonder why “soft” communism, that is, socialism, is often accompanied by high levels of abortion on demand and growing euthanasia – often involuntary? This isn’t brain surgery, friends. The connection is clear: When you’re in the business of State planning, all of the behaviors of the populace are seen through the prism of the costs of those behaviors on the State.
Individual liberty is sometimes included in the equation – especially now that we have Hitler, Stalin and Mao in the rear view mirror – but it is clear that the liberal left clings lightly to such notions. Consider again Margaret Sanger and her crusade for “choice” and woman’s right to control “her own body” who said:
But modern society, which has respected the personal liberty of the individual … is now confronted with protecting itself and its future generations against the inevitable consequences of this long-practiced policy of laissez-faire [regarding procreation].
The emergency problem of segregation and sterilization must be faced immediately. Every feeble-minded girl or woman of the hereditary type, especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the reproductive period. Otherwise, she is almost certain to bear imbecile children, who in turn are just as certain to breed other defectives. … Moreover, when we realize that each feeble-minded person is a potential source of an endless progeny of defect, we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded. [“Pivot of Civilization,” page 101-102]
These themes can easily be picked up in modern conversations about climate change, global warming and overpopulation. The social engineers very much have economics in mind, and their economic policies will by necessity bear on matters of individual liberty. They will by necessity undermine conservative notions of “limited government.” Do you know what kind of bureaucracy is required to manage, monitor and mitigate the challenges arising from the human behaviors that lead to these burdens on society and the health of the earth itself?
In short, to ever talk as though life issues can be treated separately from economic issues is to gut your own ideology of its coherency and cohesion.
Indeed, I would reverse the whole issue. There are many Christians out there who think that they can adopt positions on moral issues and think this will have no bearing whatsoever on economic or political matters – as if you could be for “Big Government” and support life issues at the same time. In fact, historically and presently there is a direct relationship between principles of limited government and fiscal restraint and responsibility and issues concerning life and liberty!
These issues are all tied together. We put ourselves at a huge disadvantage if we pretend that they are not, if only because the other side believes they are tied together.
Anthony Horvath is the executive director of Athanatos Christian Ministries. He speaks often on pro-life issues and his ministry hosts an online apologetics conference dedicated to the defense of the family through the arts.