With the cascade of legal challenges and legislative battles following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, several state legislatures are implementing restrictions on abortion access. In the public sphere, the Supreme Court ruling has only added fuel to an already incendiary debate. A natural question arises from this conversation: is the pro-life position necessarily Christian? This question is pertinent to public policy concerns. Many critics of the pro-life movement claim abortion restrictions reflect religious dogma and thus violate the anti-establishment clause of the First Amendment—either in letter or in spirit. How then can the Christian legally protect the unborn without imposing his or her beliefs on non-believers?
To answer the core question succinctly, one does not need to be a Christian (or even religious) to support pro-life policies. A pro-lifer need not be religious, and pro-life arguments do not need to refer to any religious teaching to substantiate their claims. Hence, advocating pro-life policies does not amount to cramming your religion down on non-believers, as is sometimes alleged.
Some may find this claim about the pro-life movement shocking or—more likely—strange. To ease such concerns, perhaps some further clarification is appropriate. By “the pro-life movement,” I am referring to the thought and ideas of the movement—namely, the broad objection to abortion. To be sure, the pro-life movement has historically been religious, but I wish to emphasize the cognitive content of the pro-life movement rather than engage in historical investigation.
Hence, to demonstrate the claim that the pro-life movement is not necessarily Christian (or religious), it is useful to outline what the general pro-life argument is. First, for brevity’s sake, we understand that murder is the intentional and wrongful killing of a human person. Next, we can lay out the argument as:
- Murder is wrong.
- Abortion is murder.
- Therefore, abortion is wrong.
This argument is bare bones, but, if the first and second premises are true, then the conclusion “abortion is wrong” logically must also be true.