Election 2016 is just weeks away, and, with both major candidates for the presidency descending to historic lows in approval ratings, Christians and other pro-lifers are among those reconsidering their long-held default options for the nation's top executive.
Most recently, Eric Sapp of the American Values Network, argued in The Christian Post that Hillary Clinton and her party's policies make her the best fit for Christians and pro-lifers who prefer life-affirming action to mere talk. A similar position was advanced by blogger Rachel Held Evans in an early August post, "So you're thinking of voting for a pro-choice candidate ..."
While I have responded to Held Evans, and prominent pro-life advocate Ryan Bomberger responded directly to Sapp elsewhere — Bomberger's piece in particular bears reading — it's clear many Christians are wrestling with the question.
As we wrestle and dialogue, here are three ways Hillary Clinton plans to make our abortion problem much worse if she's elected:
1. Tax dollars will pay for abortions.
Shortly after the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions were announced in January of 1973, Congress passed two riders ensuring that taxpayer funds — with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of a mother — would not be used for abortions.
The Hyde Amendment, adopted in 1976, prevents federal taxpayer dollars from directly funding abortions in the U.S., while the Helms Amendment, adopted in 1973, prevents taxpayers from funding abortions overseas.
Renewed along with the Helms Amendment every year by both houses of Congress, the Hyde Amendment turned back an immediate trend that saw the federal government pay for 300,000 abortions out of public taxpayer funds every year from 1973 to 1977, when Hyde took effect.
According to a study published last month by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, roughly 2 million children have been born who would have been otherwise aborted if not for the Hyde Amendment.
Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have expressly promised to repeal the Hyde and Helms Amendments, which would divert taxpayer funding to pay directly for abortions for the first time in 40 years.
According to page 37 of the 2016 Democratic Party Platform:
"We will continue to oppose — and seek to overturn — federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman's access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment."
Page 46 highlights the Party's intention to repeal Helms:
"[W]e support the repeal of harmful restrictions that obstruct women's access to health care information and services, including the 'global gag rule' and the Helms Amendment that bars American assistance to provide safe, legal abortion throughout the developing world."
In addition to repealing Hyde and Helms, Clinton — the first-ever primary candidate endorsed by Planned Parenthood — has championed the federal government's overruling of states attempting to cut ties with Planned Parenthood, setting a precedent of federally backed state-level funding to an organization that performs 330,000 abortions every year.
Since this money — $500 million per year total — is fungible, funds are freed up from other services Planned Parenthood may perform in order to allow for more abortions even when they are not directly paid for by taxpayers.
Finally, 32 states currently fund abortions through their Medicaid offices — including 17 for any reason — a revenue stream not covered by Hyde. Clinton's proposed repeal of Hyde would essentially change that number from 17 to 50 overnight.
Unfortunately, the arguments advanced by both Sapp and Held Evans completely omit the reality and impact of the Hyde and Helms Amendments.
2. Citizens will be forced to promote abortions.
A year before her more recent accusation that half of Donald Trump's supporters are a "basket of deplorables" and "irredeemable," Hillary Clinton compared pro-life Americans to Jihadi "terrorist groups," in open hostility to 58 percent of all Americans who oppose abortions in all or most situations.
Fit into a larger context, Clinton's intolerance toward pro-life Americans lines up with new state laws in California and Illinois that have required pro-life citizens, including pregnancy help centers and medical clinics, to speak a state-sponsored message in favor of abortion.
While both laws are being challenged in court on grounds that they violate the First Amendment's guarantees of free speech and free exercise of religion, the newly adopted state law in Illinois — set to take effect January of 2017 — is particularly troubling.
In addition to a requirement of a medical provider to "inform his or her patient of … the risks and benefits of treatment options" — which include abortions, he or she is then bound to several conditional requirements, including Section 6, Paragraph 3:
"(3) If requested by the patient or the legal representative of the patient, the health care facility, physician, or health care personnel shall: (i) refer the patient to, or (ii) transfer the patient to, or (iii) provide in writing information to the patient about other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer the health care service the health care facility, physician, or health personnel refuses to permit, perform, or participate in because of a conscience-based objection."
At least 51 pregnancy help medical clinics will be directly affected by the law, which had previously been held as the "gold standard" of state-level conscience and freedom of expression protections. Heartbeat International, an affiliation network of pregnancy help organizations, has urged its Illinois affiliates to refuse compliance with the law.
While the law in Illinois was signed by a Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, his signature represents the only non-Democrat elected official to support the new laws in both states. As she acknowledged in the second presidential debate last week, Hillary Clinton is committed to not just holding the line on abortion, but expanding its reach and prevalence in American life.
3. Attempts to regulate abortion will be opposed on principle.
In his article at The Christian Post, Sapp argued that Republican lawmakers have done nothing to meaningfully fight abortion, but Bomberger's response tells a different story, as does Clinton herself.
"And what did Republicans [during the George W. Bush administration] do to overturn Roe or in any meaningful way limit abortion? Nothing."
Well, here's a whole lot of "nothing", I guess:
1. Partial Abortion Ban of 2003
2. Reinstituted the Mexico City Policy
3. Born-Alive Infant Protection Act
4. Prolife Justices Roberts and Alito appointed to the Supreme Court
5. Launched national adoption awareness campaign and increased tax credit for adoption-related expenses from $5,000 to $10,000
6. Significantly increased federal funding for abstinence-based education through HHS (see this HHS-commissioned pro-abstinence study now hidden by that federal department)
7. Issued federal regulation allowing states to include unborn children in the federal/state S-CHIP program to help provide pre-natal care to poor women
8. Annually recognized Sanctity of Human Life Day
9. Thwarted every UN effort to promote abortion as an international right
And this is just on the federal level. Republican-controlled state legislatures have enacted legislation to whittle away at the egregious unconstitutional Roe decree. Constitutional foes, in the form of pro-abortion Democrats, fight every single pro-life effort. Perhaps Sapp has never heard of pregnancy resource centers — you know, those thousands of facilities across the country (CareNet, Heartbeat International, NIFLA) that care for mothers and their children? Many are medical. Some even provide prenatal care. All offer their services, including parenting classes and maternal and baby supplies, at no cost to their clients. These centers are a threat to Big Abortion, rescuing mothers, fathers and their children and offering help and hope.
Clinton, who celebrated the reversal of a Texas state law requiring abortion clinics to hold admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles and comply with ambulatory surgical center standards in the Supreme Court's Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt this summer, is an unabashed opponent of any conceivable regulation on abortion.
While praising the court's decision, Clinton reiterated her intention to oppose any law or restriction on abortion:
Our fight is far from over. In Texas and across the country, a woman's constitutional right to make her own health decisions is under attack. In the first three months of 2016, states introduced more than 400 measures restricting access to abortion. We've seen a concerted, persistent attack on women's health and rights at the federal level.
While some in pro-life and Christian camps point to potential Supreme Court nominations as the decisive factor for voting for Donald Trump despite his flaws, others are arguing in favor of the Democratic Party as the preferred way forward for those who place a premium on the sanctity of life.
Christian and pro-life voters no doubt face a difficult decision in 2016. As we weigh our options, however, it seems implausible to include Hillary Clinton on that list.