Whenever someone who supports abortion wants to land a rhetorical zinger on those of us who identify as pro-life, she says we are only “pro-birth.” The implication is that people who hope Roe v. Wade will be overturned want to force women to have babies (as AOC noted in a rambling tweet referencing “forced pregnancy”), but after the child is born, we lose interest in his well-being. It’s a common theme, and a shallow one, but it serves a purpose. If pro-life/anti-abortion folk can be pegged as misogynists who think of women as incubators, abortion advocates can seize the moral high ground.

But I noticed something interesting last week when the Supreme Court took up the Mississippi abortion law, which would ban virtually all abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy.  Unlike the Texas law, which imposed a more draconian timeline, it’s hard to argue that three and a half months isn’t enough time to decide whether to go through with a pregnancy. That’s why pro-abortion activists are particularly nervous about the fallout from this case, which has the capacity to neutralize Roe and return abortion law to the states.

In an exchange between Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and the attorney arguing against the Mississippi ban, the justice mentioned safe haven laws. Most states have a version of these laws, which insulate women who abandon their infants from any criminal liability as long as they leave the child in a place where he can be immediately cared for. It’s the old “foundling” principle, and relieves the unwilling mother of the obligation to raise the child.

But the attorney didn’t accept this as an alternative. In response to Justice Coney Barrett’s suggestion, the attorney replied that “[forced pregnancy] imposes unique physical demands and risk on women and in fact has impact on all of their lives, on their ability to care for other children, other family members, on their ability to work.”

And there you have it. Pro-lifers have suggested an accommodation for a woman who can’t support a child for whatever reason, an option that respects both her right to be free from parenthood as well as a child’s right to be born. But we now see that it was never about the plight of an unwanted child born into poverty. 

Pro-lifers have suggested an accommodation for a women who can’t support a child for whatever reason … that respects both her right to be free from parenthood as well as a child’s right to be born.

Justice Coney Barrett, with a few well-chosen words, revealed that the abortion-rights empress has no clothes. In refusing to look at adoption as a fair compromise between the rights of a woman and the fundamental right to life of the child, abortion advocates have shown themselves — to the court and to the country — to be concerned with only one thing: total dominion over who gets to live.

In rejecting adoption as a legitimate solution to unwanted pregnancy, abortion rights activists have become fixated on the neutralization of the child. Not only do they not want to raise it, they don’t want anyone else to raise it either. The sheer nihilism, not to mention cruelty of that position, should strip these advocates of their voices, reduce them to irrelevance and underline their tunnel vision.

But in the mainstream press and among the elite intelligentsia, these voices will continue to reverberate. The fallacy that women are reduced to chattel if forced to bear unwanted children will continue to take up space at dinner parties over Brie and Chablis. The idea that nine months of inconvenience trumps a baby’s right to live will be accepted as gospel truth. And the lamentations about “women’s health” will reach a crescendo that drowns this truth: that there will always be exceptions to protect the life and health of expectant mothers in any post-Roe legislation. This myth about women being forced to risk their lives and health because old white men are making the rules would be laughable if it weren’t so easily dismantled. We are not Handmaids in Gilead.

The thing I find most objectionable about this demonization of adoption is the double blow it deals: children are deprived of futures, and prospective parents are deprived of a blessing. To turn adoption into something that threatens a woman’s reproductive freedom is abhorrent considering how many childless couples would give anything to raise and nurture an unwilling mother’s “burden.”

Most objectionable about this demonization of adoption is the double blow it deals: children are deprived of futures, and prospective parents are deprived of a blessing.

My own father, while not adopted, spent years in foster homes. There were good people who gave him the love and care he could not find in his biological family. There are so many families willing to foster and adopt, and their interests should be considered when discussing abortion laws.

Additionally, the father’s interests, heretofore ignored, should be respected. If he is forced to pay child support (dependent upon a mother’s choice to continue a pregnancy), he should have a say in that child’s future, including the most fundamental question: whether the child has a future at all.

Finally, the child has a right to exist. That a woman doesn’t want to deal with a pregnancy should not and cannot cancel that right, that obligation of society to an innocent creature, that expectation of possibilities to come.

It’s clear that those of us who oppose abortion are not just “pro-birth.” We are pro-humanity, and in favor of any solution that honors women, children and a society that gives equal value to their profound and inalienable interests.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61

9 thoughts on “Christine Flowers: Pro-life doesn’t just mean “pro-birth””

  1. Until Republicans start advocating for maternity/paternity leave for all parents, abolishing capital punishment, mandating sick leave for every worker and start passing policies that give healthcare to everyone (like everyone other developed nation) saying that they are “Pro-life” or “Pro-family” is laughable.

  2. Oh yea, your pro life alright- until it’s kids in school, then your guns are more important. Until people are mentally or physically ill and can’t afford medical expenses, who cares about poor peoples lives? Until it’s child abuse, it’s just ‘parenting’ they have the right to by God. It’s pro-life until it effects you, until it’s no longer convenient to be. You are pro-birth until you care about all life, yes ALL life- every gender, sexuality, race, income level, age, religion, able-bodied or disabled- even when ITS NOT CONVENIENT. Until then, your hypocritical and selfish ways will show.

    1. Such a typical, ignorant, rhetoric fueled mess of a comment. I shouldn’t waste time replying but sometimes the sheer audacity of the ignorance regarding pro life is astounding and merits pushback.

  3. I have some questions for you.
    1. How many children have you adopted or provided foster care in your home?
    2. How much food, clothing, and diapers have you donated to mothers who need them?
    3. Do you you volunteer at a free day care service?
    4. Do you drive pregnant women to their Doctor’s appointments?

    1. I pray in front of clinics, donate to pro life organizations that provide services to pregnant women, and provide pro Bono immigration services to children, where needed. Hope that answers your rhetorical gotcha questions.

      1. Actually it doesn’t, you have avoided answering any question, just like you did with other commenters. How does praying in front of a clinic help a mother who has chosen to keep their child with post birth medical care and provide diapers and food? What form of assistance do these pro-life that you donate to help women after they have given birth? These are not gotcha questions, these are questions that every pregnant woman faces.

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