Why Pro-Life is Not Enough: government’s responsibility to promote the family

The New York Times has a story discussing how Mississippi might become the first state not to have an abortion clinic. Although the pro-life movement failed to pass the controversial personhood amendment not long ago, a more procedural approach is cutting the ground out from under the state’s only abortion clinic.

The law [going into effect on July 1], which was passed this spring by large margins in the State Legislature, requires all physicians associated with an abortion clinic to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

It is no secret that the physicians who do the majority of the work at the J.W.H.O. do not currently meet this requirement; three out of four of them, including Dr. Parker, do not even live in Mississippi.

Nine other states have local admitting requirements for abortion providers, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights. But in none of those states did such a rule effectively end abortion, and that will be the crux of the legal fight. Mississippi political leaders have said the law is intended to safeguard the health of women, but they have not been circumspect about the larger goal.

There are many reasons to be pleased about these developments in Mississippi. Contrary to what many conservative Christians seem to think, the pro-life movement is succeeding across America, and we are in a far better position today than we were in just after Roe v. Wade. That said, little of this matters if we do not ensure that children are raised in a context of love and justice. Quality of life, not simply biological life, is the goal. But in Mississippi, that is hardly a foregone conclusion.

Mississippi is also the poorest state in the country and has the highest birth rate among teenagers, and the second-highest infant mortality rate, according to statistics compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation. More than half of births here occur out of wedlock. Of the 2,297 women who had abortions in Mississippi in 2010, according to the State Department of Health, most were unmarried, most already had at least one child and more than three-quarters were black.

This is nothing short of a disaster, and it demonstrates why the state needs to be involved in promoting marriage and the family. The poverty, decline of marriage, illegitimacy, and racial dynamic are all closely related. If you don’t think this is an issue of basic justice with which the state should be concerned you might want to reconsider your understanding of justice.


About Matthew J. Tuininga

Matthew J. Tuininga is the Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Posted on June 23, 2012, in Abortion, African Americans, Children, Marriage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Why Pro-Life is Not Enough: government’s responsibility to promote the family.

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