The Party of Life: Just a Brand or the Heart of We Are?

Today will be an emotionally charged day in our State.

I am unashamedly pro-life. I have friends on both sides of the issue. I have friends who have had abortions and friends who have carried babies to term who died within moments of birth in their arms. This is a hard issue. It’s an uncomfortable conversation. And as Conservatives, it’s a conversation we navigate poorly. 

As our Nation and our State wrestle with the issue of life, the GOP, conservatives and the Christian Right, have to make a shift. Perhaps for some it’s merely a messaging shift. But, for others, it is perhaps a foundational shift. We shout “Pro-Life” from the proverbial rooftops (AKA the pulpit, Facebook, Twitter, etc…), but we are physically unmoved by our own talking points. 

It’s not enough to champion mothers to carry their babies to term and deliver. We don’t get to say “Hooray! We saved a baby!” and then walk away. Our job isn’t over. If our goal is to make abortion unimaginable in this state and in this country, if the “brand” of the GOP is “life”, then we have to create a talk that we walk. We have to look at women and say “You already have everything you need to be an amazing mom AND we are going to walk with you.” And I don’t mean just financially or simply referring them to a government agency, although we can and should be doing more in these areas. I mean doing life with these mothers and their families and supporting them as they navigate motherhood. Helping them to juggle work, parenting, and a budget. It’s more than dropping off diapers at your local pregnancy clinic and it’s more than donating money to “the cause”. It’s about community. We should be taking DFCS classes and becoming certified to be foster parents, resource parents, and respite parents. We should be committed to walking through life with our neighbors as they raise their babies. 

We talk about “breaking the cycle”; the cycle of poverty, the cycle of one parent families, the cycle of drugs and addiction. But where are we? How are we actively, physically, as individuals addressing this issue?

And this “we” I am referring to is not the royal “we” or a “we” that rests it’s haunches on the Government. I mean me and you. I mean me and you and our Sunday school classes and our churches at large and our County GOP and your group of parents at your kid’s school and our next door neighbors. How are we as communities, churches, corporations, civic organizations, and charities a part of the solution? Do you have a YoungLives or YoungLife organization in your area? Are we spending time with folks in our communities and mentoring young people? Are we aware of who our neighbors are and what their challenges might be?

If we are truly pro-life, we must change the conversation. We, as Conservatives, as the Church, as people, have to make a cultural shift that takes us from condemnation to mercy and grace. We have to have hard conversations with more love and grace and less judgement and condescending overtones. We have to make space for those who think differently than we do. We have to shift the conversation from babies to life in all areas. We have to be for the heart beat from conception to death after a long life on this earth. 

Recently I was told “If I had heard from society that there was a support system for me as I raised my child, I might not have had an abortion.” My heart stung. We can talk about personal responsibility all day long. We can talk about conservative principles until the cows come home. But until we are a society that shifts away from a nation of strangers mentality to a society that is willing to roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty along side our neighbors, our words will ring empty and fall on deaf ears. If we want to shift the conversation from Women’s Rights to Human Rights, then the Conservative movement must tackle the issues within the foster care system and our healthcare system, we have to work with our judicial system to keep families together, and take on personal responsibility in a way we never have before. 

We can be Pro-Life. But we have to love more than the baby phase. We have to love them in elementary school, middle school, and high school. We have to love them through first jobs, home work, and bad decisions. And we have to love their moms and dads too. We have to love people and be willing to admit that we are not all born with the same opportunities.

The General Assembly has some great legislative initiatives this session that strengthen the family and focus the mission of the Department of Family and Children Services. But, let’s take it a step further. Let’s be a state with people who are committed to life. All life. Let’s be in it for the long haul. If we are the party of Life let’s be committed to personally, as individuals, making a foundational shift that’s more than messaging and throws us into life changing action. 

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Michael
Michael

There might not be anything more difficult to discuss in American politics than abortion. If you truly care about the issue, as the author here clearly does, it is a sober and gut-wrenching discussion with no easy answers. Those on either side who spout platitudes quickly are not adequately considering the gravity of this issue. I applaud the author for approaching this topic with the delicacy it deserves. In that vein, I wish to offer my opinion. From the outset, I hesitate. First and foremost, I am a man. And I really dislike it when men pop-off about abortion, because… Read more »

Benevolus
Benevolus

It is hard. I’ve tried to comment about 3 different times and can’t find the right words.
Mainly I just wanted to say something to the effect that no one really wants more abortions, or even any abortions, so even us on the pro-choice left can and should work harder at minimizing the circumstances in which abortion is contemplated.

LTWill
LTWill

Most of us do. We support science based sex education and easy/early access to contraception. Both of which are proven to be the most effective ways to reduce the abortion rates (and teen pregnancies). For a number of reasons, neither of these are widely supported by conservatives.

The rosy rhetoric is the most responsible “pro-life” take I’ve heard. Better funding for public services would be helpful. The outright banning of abortion (or regulating it out of existence) is the absolute wrong way to accomplish this goal.

buzzbrockway
buzzbrockway

Thank you Theresa. Great post.

I know a lot of pro-life people who do the things you recommend, but we must do more. ALL pro-life people need to be doing what you say.

ChailleSullivan
ChailleSullivan

Georgia has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation. By denying women the option of abortion, you are asking that they put their very lives on the line to go through with a pregnancy they do not want. How is that pro-life? How is that caring for women? You also assume in this article that if we just support women they can all be great mothers – plenty of women end up pregnant who have zero desire to be pregnant and/or be mothers (and yes, this is despite birth control and all the other ways women actively try to… Read more »

Ellynn
Ellynn

You don’t have to be ‘make abortion illegal/pro-life’ to do these things. I’m a strong believer that abortion should be legal, safe and rare. In order for ‘rare’ to happen we as a country, state, county, and local community need to make sure some basic things happen – we help prevent pregnancies and we must give women and/or their families the support they need to either raise a child, or allow adoptions to happen more often – all without judgement. Some of my greatest achievements in this world happened through the time I spend teaching mothers basic life skills most… Read more »

Jean
Jean

It seems like everyone arguing against abortion thinks that everyone who gets one or contemplates one is making a financial decision or is using abortion in place of birth control. (Who would do that if they have an actual choice?) The thing is, there are abortions for other reasons too. With this law, I will be left with exactly 2 choices. Either refuse to have sex with my husband of 27 years OR take a risk that I will destroy my health for the rest of my life. Yes, I have children I desperately wanted. I was one of those… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Using government as maker and enforcer of rules, and private charity as mitigator (later and after the fact—by which I mean heartbeat legislation now, we’ll fix the other things later), is not the way to do it. And government mitigation is socialism.

I appreciate the appeal, but just as the requirement there be a wall before addressing amnesty for dreamers, there’s little reason to think that anything will be done later, unless support is lessened from what is available now. Good luck.