A recent opinion piece in The Christian Science Monitor by Elizabeth Jahr is entitled “Pro-life Groups Don’t Really Protect the Unborn.”
How does Jahr draw such an illogical conclusion? She cites a study which asserts that financial concerns are the major reason why abortion-minded women choose to kill their babies. Jahr then concludes that pro-lifers are complicit in these abortions because they waste huge sums of money on fundraising “spectacles” like the March for Life in Washington D.C. and on legislative attempts to restrict or ban abortion. What should they do instead? Jahr has the answer: Pro-lifers should spend their money by covering the cost of prenatal care for each of these pregnant women. And that’s just the beginning. She also suggests that pro-lifers should also pay for the cost of delivering the baby and then cover the expenses for each child for the next eighteen years.
To prove her assertion about wasting money, Ms. Jahr uses the example of the Diocese of Kansas City’s 2012 March for Life trip to Washington D.C. The Diocese charged $320 for adults and youth to attend the event. From this information, Jahr extrapolates that since 650,000 people attended the March last year, and if only one-tenth paid $320, then the total would come to $20.8 million. All that money was spent to “travel to Washington and protest the legality of abortion in America. All of this is, supposedly, to protect the life of the unborn.”
However, Jahr’s math is fuzzy. She cherry-picks the Kansas City diocese because of the $320 charge. But this cost was for a four-day trip which included hotel accommodations and sight-seeing. Thousands of marchers drive themselves to the event or take school busses which are provided free or at a minimal cost. For example, in Michigan, chartered overnight bus excursions usually charge around $100 per person. So the $20.8 million number is grossly inflated for effect.
As for pro-lifers wasting money, there are two major problems here. First, there is a matter of perspective. What constitutes wasting money is in the eye of the beholder. I think people who consume alcohol, go to Miley Cyrus concerts, or gamble are wasting their money. Yet I am sure there are people who look at some of the things I spend money on and believe it’s a total waste. In her article, Jahr scoffs at people “willing to plan and fundraise for months to attend a political event that lasts a few hours.” I wonder if Jahr has the same opinion of people who planned and fundraised for months to see President Obama’s inauguration, an event, by the way, that lasted only a few hours.
The other problem of pro-lifers supposedly wasting money to march and lobby politicians is Jahr’s assumption that pro-lifers do nothing else to aid women with unplanned pregnancies. She could not be more mistaken. Most pro-lifers contribute large sums of money to thousands of crisis pregnancy centers and shelters for unwed mothers. At most of the centers, expectant mothers or mothers of newborns are provided with free baby clothes, food, maternity outfits, and baby furniture. Many centers offer free ultra sound tests and STD screening. At shelters, pregnant women are provided with a comfortable, safe place to live, transportation to doctor appointments and/or school, meals, and clothing for them and their newborn. Depending upon the shelter, pregnant women are allowed to stay anywhere from nine months to over a year. There is no cost to the women for these services.
If there is no cost to the women, then where does the money come from and how much are we talking about? Well, here’s another math quiz for Jahr: There are approximately three to four thousand pro-life centers and shelters. Let’s split the difference and say 3500. The smallest centers usually have a yearly budget of at least $50,000, while some of the larger ones can have budgets exceeding $250,000. Again, let’s assume the average budget is $150,000. Multiply 3500 by $150,000, and you get $525 million. Almost all that money comes from donations and fundraisers. So Jahr gets exorcised over the “missing” dubious $20.8 million but ignores the half-billion used to aid pregnant women. I wonder if Jahr knows that Planned Parenthood made over a billion dollars in 2011. I also wonder if she knows that Planned Parenthood and other such pro-death organizations do not give a dime to women who choose to keep their babies. The abortion lobby has a simple message for these women: “We will sell you contraceptives, and we will kill your babies. But if you choose to keep your babies, you’re on your own.”
Furthermore, when talking about abortion-minded women, Jahr completely ignores the two major players–the pregnant women and the men who impregnate them. Is it impossible for single women to abstain from sex until they are married? Are we to view them as simply animals in heat who cannot control their instincts? Does Ms. Jahr view all women that way?
And what about the fathers of these babies? Why do they get a pass? Why isn’t Jahr demanding that all levels of government crack down on deadbeat dads? Why doesn’t Jahr lecture these sperm donors for helping to create the problem of unwanted children to begin with? Are they, too, just animals totally controlled by hormones?
What Ms. Jahr gives us instead is, in the parlance of the criminal world, a shakedown. In essence, here is her message: “If you are going to oppose abortion, then you had better financially support every baby born to an abortion-minded woman.” It is no different from having a woman show up at your front door with a baby in her arms. She says to you, “If you don’t give me money for my baby now, I will kill it right before your eyes, and it will be your fault.” I would hope no one would succumb to such a clear case of emotional extortion. And I would also hope that thinking Americans would not succumb to Jahr’s misguided, misinformed shakedown attempt.
THOMAS ADDIS is a retired high school teacher and published author, most recently authoring a children’s book, A Gift of Light, which is available at Amazon. An M.A. graduate of Oakland University, he is Associate Editor of Catholic Journal. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and cycling.