Should we be trying to reduce abortions or eliminate them? That was the question that was taken up in a recent edition of “The Albert Mohler Program.” On the show, Russell Moore moderates a discussion between Tony Campolo and Robert George.
On the one hand, George contends that every person’s life (including the unborn’s) should be protected in law (thus eliminating abortion as a legal option). On the other hand, Campolo argues in favor of public policies that might reduce the number of abortions in America. Campolo has recently been named to the Democratic Party’s platform committee where he hopes that an ‘abortion reduction’ plank might be introduced into the party’s platform, even if Roe v. Wade is never overturned.
In one particular exchange, Moore gets to what I think is the heart of the matter and the basic moral untenability of Campolo’s position (beginning at about 27:41).
Moore: What would you say to someone that would argue as I would that getting together with abortion rights supporters and saying let’s reduce the number of abortions is something like a previous generation getting together with white supremacists and saying let’s find a way to reduce the number of lynchings. Don’t you kind of almost provide a smokescreen . . .
Campolo: Wait a minute. That was a very inflammatory way of stating the issue . . .
Moore: Not if unborn children are actually children . . .
Campolo: Would you let me respond? . . .
Even though Campolo is put off by the comparison to white supremacists, Moore’s analogy is entirely appropriate. Just as black Americans are persons created in God’s image whose lives should be protected in law against lynchings, so the unborn are persons whose lives should be protected in law against abortion. The point that Moore so powerfully makes is that it is morally dubious to set aside the question of the unborn’s personhood.
That is precisely what Campolo does (whether he intends to or not) whenever he chastises pro-lifers for seeking to make abortion illegal. Pro-lifers think that we should be working to make sure that every person’s life is protected in law. Campolo thinks that we should not. It’s no surprise that Campolo says that this November he will be voting for Barack Obama for Presidentâ€”the most radically pro-abortion candidate in our lifetime.
Campolo really has no answer to the question put to him by Mooreâ€”at least no answer that addresses the personhood of the unborn. That’s why his argument really doesn’t work. And that’s why I’m hoping that pro-lifers are not listening to him.