There's a new viral video floating around featuring another politician saying something awful about abortion. The clip, making its way through social media this week, highlights the comments of Democratic State Representative John Rogers of Alabama speaking in opposition to House Bill 314, a bill that would restrict abortion access in the state.
Simply put, the comments offered in defense of abortion rights by Rep. Rogers are grotesque and reprehensible. Dripping with contempt, his words make plain the stark fatalism that lies behind much of the pro-abortion movement. In his remarks, he states: “Some kids are unwanted. So you kill them now, or you kill them later. You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved. You send them to the electric chair. So, you kill them now or you kill them later.”
Such words are difficult to hear, and more difficult to deconstruct. They emanate from a worldview that, at its root, holds that people are expendable and that the value of a person is to be measured by his or her utility. Bracket out for a moment the fact that Rep. Rogers refers to the would be victims of abortion as "kids." It is simply unconscionable that an elected official would consign every person born of adverse circumstances to a life of despair. Not only is his statement demonstrably false, but it is morally bankrupt. A life is no less valuable because it begins in adversity or hardship. Nor is a life any less significant because of how it ends.
Why the pro-life ethic defends life
Rep. Rogers remarks are best described as fatalism. In essence, he declares that those who are born into brokenness are "doomed from the womb." But standing in contrast to this callous determinism, the pro-life ethic holds that life is sacred at every stage. Each life matters from womb to tomb.
The pro-life movement exists to contend for the reality that every life matters, that every person is a person, and that the right to life is fundamental. Christians have found ourselves at home in the pro-life movement because we know that every person bears the image of God (Gen. 1:27). As an image-bearer, each person is accorded with intrinsic worth and dignity, fully deserving of the rights and liberties afforded to every other person.
The central problem with Rep. Rogers comments is that they entirely miss the mark. While it is true that in the most extreme of circumstances a child may be unwanted by his or her biological parents, no child is unwanted by God. As important as the nurture and love of one's birth parents may be, the ultimate love and acceptance that every person needs is always available in the love of God the Father. Whether one is born in the midst of tragedy or in a seemingly idyllic situation, nothing can make a person whole apart from the redemption found in Jesus.
The pro-life movement exists to contend for the reality that every life matters, that every person is a person, and that the right to life is fundamental.
Beyond the remarks captured in the video, Rep. Rogers’ comments also included the following: "Some parents can’t handle a child with problems. It could be retarded. It might have no arms and no legs." These words also are appalling to read. Anyone with a modicum of compassion, much less an actual knowledge of individuals with disabilities or special needs, can recognize such misanthropic rhetoric for what it is: slander. Neither the difficulties they may face, nor the disposition of their biological parents, negates the value or personhood of those Rep. Rogers deems unworthy of life. Certainly, some parents would feel ill-equipped or unwilling to care for children with such challenges, but this is beside the point. Even amid the brokenness of our world, both the state and countless families have resources available to step into these situations and meet such needs.
While Christians would support any number of solutions aimed at guaranteeing the best possible outcomes for children born into these circumstances, ending their lives before they take their first breath is not only a mistake but a tragedy of the greatest magnitude. We are right to be scandalized by the audacity of Rep. Rogers comments. But our outrage would be wasted apart from our resolve to make a difference in defense of life. This includes not only supporting pro-life legislation, but advocating for adoption, and doing all we can to encourage and resource courageous mothers and families who choose life in the face of difficult circumstances.
The “kids” Rep. Rogers referred to deserve to live, and our standing in defense of the unborn is surely worth it. We offer the world something much better than fatalism, and that is hope.