The 2016 election is weeks away. With both major presidential candidates at historic lows in approval ratings, Christians and other pro-lifers are reconsidering their long-held default options for the nation’s top executive.
Eric Sapp of the American Values Network recently argued in The Christian Post that Hillary Clinton and her party’s policies are the best fit for pro-lifers who prefer life-affirming action to mere talk. Blogger Rachel Held Evans posited a similar position in an early August post, titled “So you’re thinking of voting for a pro-choice candidate…”
I have responded to Held Evans, and prominent pro-life advocate Ryan Bomberger responded directly to Sapp elsewhere—Bomberger’s piece in particular bears reading. But it’s clear many Christians are wrestling with this question.
As we wrestle and dialogue, here are four ways Hillary Clinton plans to make our abortion problem much worse if she’s elected.
1. Tax Dollars Will Pay For Abortions
Shortly after the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions were announced in January of 1973, Congress passed two riders ensuring that taxpayer funds—with exceptions for the life of a mother, and later, rape and incest—would not be used for abortions.
The Hyde Amendment, adopted in 1976, prevents federal taxpayer dollars from directly funding abortions in the U.S. The Helms Amendment, adopted in 1973, prevents taxpayers from funding abortions overseas.
Renewed alongside the Helms Amendment every year by both houses of Congress, the Hyde Amendment turned back an immediate trend that saw the federal government pay for 300,000 abortions with taxpayer funds every year from 1973 to 1977, when Hyde took effect. According to a study published last month by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, roughly 2 million children have been born who would otherwise have been aborted if not for the Hyde Amendment.
Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have expressly promised to repeal the Hyde and Helms Amendments, diverting taxpayer funding to pay directly for abortions for the first time in 40 years. According to page 37 of the 2016 Democratic Party Platform, “We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.”
Page 46 highlights the Party’s intention to repeal Helms:
[W]e support the repeal of harmful restrictions that obstruct women’s access to health care information and services, including the “global gag rule” and the Helms Amendment that bars American assistance to provide safe, legal abortion throughout the developing world.
In addition, Clinton—the first-ever primary candidate endorsed by Planned Parenthood—has championed the federal government’s overruling of state attempts to cut ties with Planned Parenthood. This sets a precedent of federally backed state-level funding to an organization that performs 330,000 abortions every year.
Since this money—$500 million per year total—is fungible, funds are freed up from other services Planned Parenthood may perform in order to allow for more abortions, even when they are not directly paid for by taxpayers.
Finally, 32 states currently fund abortions through their Medicaid offices—including 17 for any reason—a revenue stream not covered by Hyde. Clinton’s proposed repeal of Hyde would essentially change that number from 17 to 50 overnight.
Unfortunately, the arguments advanced by both Sapp and Held Evans completely omit this reality.
2. Citizens Will Be Forced To Promote Abortions
A year before her more recent accusation that half of Donald Trump’s supporters were a “basket of deplorables” and “irredeemable,” Hillary Clinton compared pro-life Americans to jihadi “terrorist groups,” in open hostility to 58 percent of all Americans who oppose abortions in all or most situations.
Clinton’s intolerance toward pro-life Americans aligns with new state laws in California and Illinois that require pro-life citizens, including those working at pregnancy help centers and medical clinics, to share a state-sponsored message that favors abortion.
Last Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the California law, overriding a challenge that it violates Constitutional rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. Two lawsuits attempting to stop the Illinois law—set to take effect January 2017—are in the works.
The Illinois law is particularly troubling. In addition to requiring medical providers to “inform his or her patient of… the risks and benefits of treatment options”—which include abortions, medical providers are then bound to several conditional requirements, including Section 6, Paragraph 3:
(3) If requested by the patient or the legal representative of the patient, the health care facility, physician, or health care personnel shall: (i) refer the patient to, or (ii) transfer the patient to, or (iii) provide in writing information to the patient about other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer the health care service the health care facility, physician, or health personnel refuses to permit, perform, or participate in because of a conscience-based objection.
At least 51 pregnancy help medical clinics will be directly affected by the law, which had previously been held as the “gold standard” of state-level conscience and freedom of expression protections. Heartbeat International, an affiliation network of pregnancy help organizations, has urged its Illinois affiliates to refuse compliance with the law.
While Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Illinois law, he’s the only non-Democrat elected official to support the new laws in both states. As Clinton acknowledged in the second presidential debate October 9, she is committed to not just holding the line on abortion, but to expanding its reach and prevalence.
3. Religious Hospitals Will Be Forced to Choose Between Conscience and Existence
While medicos involved with explicitly pro-life nonprofits are in the crosshairs of the Illinois law, they’re not alone. In fact, the genesis of the law—first introduced to the state’s legislative body in 2015—was an attempt to force Catholic hospitals in Illinois to refer for abortions, as well as birth control, physician-assisted suicide, and transgender reassignment surgery.
Originally opposed by the Catholic Conference of Illinois, that body conceded its position in April of 2015, paving the way for the bill’s eventual passage a year later.
Patrick Cacchione of the Illinois Catholic Hospital Association called the law “a bill in search of a problem.” But his organization dropped its resistance as well, while Erica Laethem of OSF HealthCare—the state’s largest Catholic healthcare system—rested her group’s complicity in the bill’s passage on a bizarre moral distinction between a referral and a referral written “on a prescription pad.”
Meanwhile this April, Trinity Health Corp., which operates 86 facilities in 21 states, won a lawsuit filed by the ACLU that would have forced the Catholic healthcare group to not just refer for abortions, but to perform them.
All this in addition to the Obama administration’s attempt to force The Little Sisters of the Poor—a group of (must we clarify?) celibate nuns—to provide contraceptive and abortifacient coverage through their healthcare, despite their deeply held religious objections.
Lamenting the Supreme Court’s decision to send the case back to a lower court this May, Clinton indicated her desire to see even Catholic nuns forced to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients via Twitter, saying, “Every woman, no matter where she works, deserves birth control coverage. This shouldn’t be a question.”
If this response doesn’t convince, perhaps last week’s WikiLeaks revelations will do the job. Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, plotted a “Catholic spring” with other high-ranking officials in her campaign. Clinton’s animus toward religious Americans is on full display here, as is her campaign’s plan to force “backward Catholics” out of the “medieval dictatorship” and into these enlightened times.
It is these enlightened times, lest we need reminding, that have given us Clinton and Trump.
4. Attempts To Regulate Abortion Will Be Opposed On Principle
In his article at The Christian Post, Sapp argued that Republican lawmakers have done nothing to meaningfully fight abortion. But Bomberger’s response tells a different story—as does Clinton herself. To Sapp’s “And what did Republicans [during the George W. Bush administration] do to overturn Roe or in any meaningful way limit abortion? Nothing,” Bomberger responds: “Well, here’s a whole lot of ‘nothing,’ I guess”:
- Partial Abortion Ban of 2003
- Reinstituted the Mexico City Policy
- Born-Alive Infant Protection Act
- Prolife Justices Roberts and Alito appointed to the Supreme Court
- Launched national adoption awareness campaign and increased tax credit for adoption-related expenses from $5,000 to $10,000
- Significantly increased federal funding for abstinence-based education through HHS (see this HHS-commissioned pro-abstinence study now hidden by that federal department)
- Issued federal regulation allowing states to include unborn children in the federal/state S-CHIP program to help provide pre-natal care to poor women
- Annually recognized Sanctity of Human Life Day
- Thwarted every UN effort to promote abortion as an international right
And this is just on the federal level. Republican-controlled state legislatures have enacted legislation to whittle away at the egregious unconstitutional Roe decree. Constitutional foes, in the form of pro-abortion Democrats, fight every single prolife effort. Perhaps Sapp has never heard of pregnancy resource centers—you know, those thousands of facilities across the country (CareNet, Heartbeat International, NIFLA) that care for mothers and their children. Many are medical. Some even provide prenatal care. All offer their services, including parenting classes and maternal and baby supplies, at no cost to their clients. These centers are a threat to Big Abortion, rescuing mothers, fathers and their children and offering help and hope.
Clinton celebrated the reversal of a Texas state law this summer that had required abortion clinics to hold admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles, and to comply with ambulatory surgical center standards in the Supreme Court’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. She is an unabashed opponent of any conceivable regulation on abortion.
While praising the court’s decision, Clinton reiterated her intention to oppose any law or restriction on abortion:
Our fight is far from over. In Texas and across the country, a woman’s constitutional right to make her own health decisions is under attack. In the first three months of 2016, states introduced more than 400 measures restricting access to abortion. We’ve seen a concerted, persistent attack on women’s health and rights at the federal level.
While some in pro-life camps point to potential Supreme Court nominations as the decisive factor for voting for Donald Trump despite his flaws, others argue that the Democratic Party is the preferred way forward for those who place a premium on the sanctity of life.
Christian and pro-life voters no doubt face a difficult decision in 2016. As we weigh our options, however, it seems implausible to include Hillary Clinton on that list.