Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why this passionately pro-life evangelical is not voting for Trump

In the past few weeks, I have heard many prominent evangelicals calling on Christians to vote for Donald Trump because, despite his numerous flaws, he is still better than Hillary Clinton. Specifically, these leaders have pointed to Clinton’s unflinching support for abortion-on-demand. Trump may not be particularly passionate about the pro-life cause, but at least he will do less damage than Clinton. 

I sympathize with this argument. Evangelicals are in a very difficult situation. Every year in America, around 12,500 babies at 21-weeks gestation or later are dismembered and decapitated, often while still alive. (The words “dismember” and “decapitate” are not mine; these are the words used by abortion doctors to describe what they do.) I am convinced that if elected, Clinton will appoint judges and sign legislation that will further entrench abortion in American law. 

Nevertheless, I am still not voting for Trump. 

What these evangelical leaders have not considered is the long-term consequences of coupling the pro-life cause with Donald Trump. I suspect that nothing Clinton can do in four years will damage the pro-life movement as much as this coupling. By rallying behind Trump, pro-life leaders are strengthening the primary argument against the pro-life movement while at the same time weakening the primary argument for the pro-life movement. I fear this will have serious consequences in the coming decades.    

The Strongest Argument against the Pro-Life Movement

What is the primary argument urged against the pro-life movement? The pro-life movement has no concern for women but seeks rather to strip them of their constitutional rights. 

Of course this accusation is false. Pro-lifers are deeply concerned for the welfare of women; they simply do not limit their concern to women who are already born. Furthermore, pro-lifers are deeply committed to protecting women’s rights; they simply insist that these rights belong to all women, regardless of age. Furthermore, many leaders in the pro-life movement are women. The presentation of pro-lifers as soldiers in a war on women is a flimsy straw man. 

But Trump is the straw man come to life. He objectifies women, bragging about his numerous extra-marital affairs. He degrades women with vulgar and obscene insults. Furthermore, he promises to use libel laws to restrict the freedom of the press. His crass misogyny and disregard for the Constitution transforms a slanderous caricature into the truth. Trump takes a weak argument and makes it strong. 

The Strongest Argument for the Pro-Life Movement

What is the primary argument for the pro-life movement? The pro-life movement is committed to defending human rights and protecting the lives of innocent children. 

Trump is the living and breathing refutation of this argument. One day he rails against abortion; the next day he says that soldiers should be forced to target children. He openly incites violence at his rallies and suggests that we should match ISIS in brutality. A candidate who purports to be pro-life while at the same time displaying such a flagrant disregard for human life is precisely the candidate pro-choice apologists are desperate to find. 


Pro-life leaders must not rally behind Trump. If they do so, they will damage the pro-life narrative, perhaps beyond repair.   

[Author's note: I wrote this piece several days ago, before I saw the disgusting video in which Trump discusses sexually assaulting women. I hope that video has made these comments unnecessary.]