Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence are two religious men who care strongly about protecting life. But how this affects their politics differs greatly.
In a surprisingly sincere and personal moment in Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate, the politicians discussed their religious backgrounds and how their faith impacts their views on the sanctity of life.
In their responses, the men epitomized a divide that has historically separated Democrats and Republicans. Kaine discussed his moral opposition to the death penalty, while Pence decried abortion as “anathema” to him.
A majority of Republicans would agree with Pence, but not all Christians are satisfied with the Republican ticket’s promise on this issue. People frequently use the term “pro-life” to reflect a stance that favors strict abortion legislation and seeks to protect the rights of individuals starting in the womb. But as many have noted, this stance is more aptly described as “anti-abortion” to reflect the efforts on both sides of the aisle to promote life.
For some Christians, the more “pro-life” stance in this election is actually one championed by Kaine and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
In an op-ed published Monday on Christian Post, titled “Hillary Clinton Is the Best Choice for Voters Against Abortion,” Christian political consultant Eric Sapp argued that being “pro-life” should entail more than opposing abortion.
“Here’s the question pro-life Christians must ask,” Sapp wrote. “Do we care more about talking about the unborn, or do we actually want to do something to prevent abortions?”
Preventing abortions means supporting the women and families who are most likely to have them, Sapp continued, including those who are poor and facing an unexpected pregnancy. And when it comes to supporting women and low-income families, Hillary Clinton is the obvious choice.
“Want to guess which political party is more effective at reducing poverty and unwanted pregnancies?” Sapp wrote. “I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the ‘pro-life’ Party that in this last Congressional session alone fought to cut medical care for poor mothers and children, food programs for kids, and contraception coverage and access for women.”
Sapp isn’t alone among Christians in holding these views. Anti-abortion Christian blogger Shannon Dingle discussed her reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton in a article over the summer.
“Being pro-life can’t just be about ensuring that babies are born without also affirming their value after birth through our words, actions, and policies.””
Reducing the rate of abortions, she wrote, starts with addressing the “underlying causes” that lead women to choose the procedure, including poverty and lack of access to healthcare.
Beyond abortion, she said, upholding the sanctity of life should include standing up for the lives of all those marginalized in our society ― including women, immigrants, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and religious and racial minorities.
“To me,” Dingle wrote, “being pro-life can’t just be about ensuring that babies are born without also affirming their value after birth through our words, actions, and policies.”
Prominent Christian writer Rachel Held Evans published a blog shortly after Dingle’s expressing similar views and outlining her reasons for choosing the Clinton-Kaine ticket.
“I believe the sacred personhood of an individual begins before birth and continues throughout life,” she wrote. “And I believe that sacred personhood is worth protecting, whether it’s tucked inside a womb, waiting on death row, fleeing Syria in search of a home, or playing beneath the shadow of an American drone.”
For these Christians, choosing a pro-abortion rights ticket doesn’t represent a rejection of their religious convictions. On the contrary, they see Clinton and Kaine’s commitment to social justice and to upholding the lives of marginalized communities as precisely what it means to be “pro-life.”