Hillary's Approach to Abortion Is Like Lincoln's to Slavery

Eric Sapp is a founding partner of the Eleison Group.
Eric Sapp is a founding partner of the Eleison Group.

Ryan Bomberger's reply to my call for reason and an honest look at the facts around abortion highlights precisely why such an approach is necessary.

I understand that abortion is an emotional issue. That's why Christians need to seek to listen, rather than yell. This issue is too important to ignore the facts about why women have abortions and what policies reduce them. And this election is too important for Christians not to question the rhetoric being used to trap so many into blind allegiance to the party of Trump.

Ryan has a poignant story, being a child of rape whose mother chose not to have an abortion. He anchors his case against Hillary (and support for Republicans) in that personal story. I understand why this is personal for him and wouldn't question that.

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But ironically, Republicans are the ones who have said they support allowing late-term abortions for mothers with children conceived by rape and incest. The only exception for late-term abortion that Hillary has proposed is for the physical health of the mother.

I'd encourage everyone to read the account by a close friend of mine on what women who make that choice actually face. There is room for thoughtful ethical dialogue over these decisions. But that won't be found by dismissing any child of rape as "unworthy" or a mother facing an impossible choice as "heartless."

So while Republican rhetoric might sound better to some, the truth is that Republicans "support" late-term abortions in the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" that Republicans wrote and only Republicans voted for. This was not a concession they made to Democrats to try to get something done, but their own message bill to show where they stand.

This naked emperor is parading around for all of us to see if we'd only look.

When Hillary acknowledges the awful choice women face when told something has gone horribly wrong late in their pregnancy, she is blasted for supporting abortion "up until the moment of conception." But Republicans are awarded a "100% pro-life record" for writing and voting for bills with the exact same position (plus allowing late-term abortion for rape and incest). We can't move forward without more honesty on where we are.

Ryan also tried to argue that confronting poverty wouldn't really have an impact on abortions by saying the data I cited showing that low-income women account for three-fourths of abortions was clearly false since wealthy women had abortions at a higher rate. He said this proved that my stats were wrong, but our stats don't disagree at all. How can poor women have the vast majority of abortions when rich women are more likely to abort a pregnancy? Poor women get pregnant MUCH more often.

In fact, that same Brookings Study Ryan cites found that poorer women were three times as likely to get pregnant and twice as likely not to have access to contraception. Again, the key to actually reducing abortion is to understand it. And the solution of providing more support for poor women trying to avoid getting pregnant and supporting them when they do will have benefits far beyond reducing abortions … and accomplish much, much more than continuing to argue over Roe.

Finally, Ryan opened his piece by sarcastically arguing that my claim that pro-life voters should choose Hillary is akin to my telling someone who opposed slavery they should elect a president who supported allowing slavery to remain the law of the land, rather than an abolitionist.

But in trying to show how naive my argument is, Ryan picked one of the best historical examples possible to make my point. The man we all credit with abolishing slavery was no abolitionist. In fact, Lincoln was elected over the objection of the Republican abolitionists on the promise that he would continue to allow slavery to exist in America. Even his famous Emancipation Proclamation allowed slavery to continue in states that remained in the Union.

I don't say that to disparage Lincoln. He unquestionably thought slavery was wrong. But Lincoln also understood that the world isn't a bumper-sticker and that real leaders must make the hard choices to find the possible. Imagine how different our nation and our history would be if more Christians had backed the rhetorically pure abolitionist in the 1860 GOP Convention instead of the man they believed would actually do something to hold our nation together and ultimately end slavery.

It would be just as tragic if pro-life Christians cast their lot behind a man like Donald Trump and forever tarnished our witness because they focus more on the words around abortion than the deeds. So I'll say it again, if what matters most is talking about the unborn, vote for Donald Trump. But if you actually care about doing something about abortion, you should vote for Hillary.

Eric Sapp is a founding partner of the Eleison Group, a political consulting firm that specializes in outreach to the progressive faith community. He has worked closely with Democrats and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

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