I have signed the statement, “pro-life evangelicals for Biden,” and I write this now to explain publicly my reasons for doing so.
I start by recognizing that I could certainly be wrong in what I say below. And I ABSOLUTELY believe that evangelical Reformed Christians may take a very different position on the points I make. I respect that and I do not make any comment about the biblical faithfulness or the Reformed theological correctness about those Christians . . . other than the label, “I respectfully disagree with your conclusions.”
I have said this before and I re-affirm it here:
As a pro-life evangelical Christian, I disagree with Vice President Biden and the Democratic Platform on the issue of abortion.
Here, I will say it more strongly – I believe that abortion is always wrong. Period.
Then how in the world can I defend signing the statement “Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden”?
I have two general answers to that very fair question.
First, the most important thing is to reduce the number of abortions . . . ultimately to ZERO. The MEANS by which the greatest such reduction would come is where I (and some other signers of the above statement) differ with other evangelical Christians. I genuinely believe that making abortion illegal is not the best way to reduce the number of abortions. I recently saw a statement which gives expression to what I am trying to say – “It will be more effective to make abortions UNNECESSARY than to make them ILLEGAL.”
I think back to our country’s experience with prohibition. Making alcohol illegal did not eliminate it from the country; it just drove the production and use of alcohol underground, often with results that were far worse than the problems prohibition was intended to solve. I believe that making abortion illegal will do the same – it will not eliminate abortions; it will just drive them into back alleys and dirty rooms which will produce even more deaths than we now see.
But some of my more gracious critics have asked, “What about slavery? Wasn’t it best just to outlaw it and free the hundreds of thousands of wrongly enslaved individuals?” Why worry about the implications when it is a clear case of right vs. wrong? I worry because that what might be theoretically “right” might be, in fact, “wrong” in terms of its actual consequences. I lived my first 21 years in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and I served one summer as a Park Ranger-Historian at Vicksburg National Military Park, site of one of the most decisive of the battles which decided the Civil War.
That war did free slaves, no question. But at what cost . . . both then and now?
In 1860, the total population of the U.S. was approximately 31 million and rough estimates indicate that about 620,000 American troops (on both sides) lost their lives during that conflict. In other words two percent of the total population of the country died during that conflict. In addition, to this very day, we are struggling with the question of reparations for those who were freed but left their “masters” with no education and no financial resources.
Suppose instead the U.S. Federal Government had, in 1860, offered to PURCHASE AND FREE all of those being held in slavery AND to provide to those who were freed a “nest egg” of financial support for all freed slaves. Would the situation, both then and now, have been and be better or worse? It is, at the very least, an historical question worth asked and one directly relevant to the question of how best to make abortions absolutely unnecessary in the USA . . . AFTER WHICH I and many other “pro-life evangelicals for Biden” would be perfectly delighted to vote FOR making abortion illegal . . . just as slavery is now illegal.
So what exactly am I suggesting? It is an alternative which I believe is FAR more likely under Mr. Biden than under Mr. Trump.
I begin with some statistics (from the CDC). Here is a list of the total number of abortions performed in the USA during the administrations of our last several Presidents:
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates per every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 are as follows:
Reagan (1981-89): 24
H.W. Bush (1989-93): 24
Clinton (1993-2001): 16.2
W. Bush (2001-09): 16
Obama (2009-17): 12.5 (almost half of what it was under Reagan)
I always try to check on facts like those above and this is what I learned from Snopes.com:
The abortion rate has steadily declined since the 1980s throughout both Democratic and Republican administrations, with a greater rate of decline during the former.
Of course, no one knows absolutely all of the reasons for this decline. But some scholars have made the point that, with increasingly available health care, the sensed NEED for abortions has decreased significantly. That means it is seen as being LESS NECESSARY.
So I will go out on a very narrow limb and say that I believe that universal health care would not only reduce the number of abortions far more than outlawing abortion would (see example of prohibition). It would also move the country in a FAR more biblical direction. See what THE LORD says He prefers to fasting (which He had commanded) in Isaiah 58. And see what JESUS says in Matthew 11 about how John’s disciples can recognize HIS Kingdom. And see what JESUS also says in Matthew 25: 31 – 46 about the kinds of activities which are critically important for entrance into heaven. I really do believe that moving more aggressively in the direction of the Affordable Care Act (ACT) will make abortions FAR less necessary and far fewer overall than any laws are likely to do AND will bring the nation FAR more in conformity to overall biblical values. And I believe that the historical example of the Civil War suggests that the total FINANCIAL and NATIONAL cost might be considerably less than the cost of outlawing abortion altogether.
Whether my financial projections are completely accurate or not, there is, I believe, a way to deal with the tragedy of abortion other than by outlawing it.
Here is another statement with which I agree:
What is more effective in reducing abortions? Economic stability, affordable family planning/birth control, and quality health care. The very things Republicans fight AGAINST. Well over half of the nationwide decline between 2011 and 2017 occurred in states that DID NOT enact new family planning and abortion restrictions.
All of the above constitutes the first reason why I, as a person who believes that abortion is ALWAYS WRONG, will vote of Mr. Biden on November 3.
The second reason is that abortion simply is not the only issue to be considered in this election. There simply are MANY reasons why I believe that Mr. Trump would take our nation in a more anti-Christian direction that Mr. Biden.
One of the foremost of such reasons is my belief that the Ninth Commandment (“You shall not bear false witness”) is as authoritative as the Sixth (“You shall not kill”) and detailed interpretations of the of the Ninth Commandment by the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism and the Baltimore Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church of what is prohibited and what is required by the Ninth Commandment are correct and binding. I believe that Mr. Trump frequently and publicly says things that are violations of the Ninth Commandment. And why is that so bad? Eric Alterman’s 2004 work, WHEN PRESIDENTS LIE: A HISTORY OF OFFICIAL DECEPTION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES makes abundantly clear theNATIONAL consequences when a POTUS violates the Ninth Commandment.
Regardless of the Alterman book, I simply do not (and cannot) believe many of the things that Mr. Trump says and this, in itself, is one of the reasons I will not vote for him on November 3.
Do I wish that we had a better candidate than Mr. Biden? Yes, of course. But having voted for a pro-life third-party candidate in 2016 and having seen the results when MANY others (but not enough!) did the same, I will now grit my teeth and vote Democratic for the first time in my entire life.
At the same time, I will respect those of my friends who choose to vote for Mr. Trump. I will not, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, question their intelligence or the genuineness of their evangelical Christian faith. And I will continue to wish for the same in return.
Samuel T. Logan, Jr.