As the election draws nearer and the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency becomes more apparent every day, more and more pro-lifers are concluding that the only way to stop Clinton is to vote for Donald Trump. They reason that Clinton will push harder to restrict our religious liberties, fight harder for federal funding of abortions, and advance an agenda that is generally toxic to the pro-life movement. They’re absolutely right: a Clinton presidency would be bad for unborn babies.
A Trump presidency would be worse.
A few have argued that some of Clinton’s proposed policies, like the expanded child tax credit, would somehow prevent more abortions than ending the Hyde Amendment would enable. Given the overall scope of Clinton’s enthusiasm for abortion and the potential for harm her Supreme Court nominations would cause, I don’t think this is a sound argument at all. It’s like arguing that a politician’s proposal to subsidize paper means they are in favor of free speech. Hillary Clinton’s administration would unequivocally impede or reverse most of the goals of the pro-life movement.
But Donald Trump’s administration would be worse.
Trump Threatens From Within
The pro-life movement has long recognized that a comprehensive approach to ending abortion is the only way forward. A “culture of life” has sociological, cultural, moral, and political dimensions and requires far more than overturning Roe v. Wade. It does little good if laws are passed but then immediately repealed or overturned in an environment hostile to life. And focusing solely on preventing abortion and supporting mothers, without any legal protections for the unborn, will still leave too many children vulnerable to murder. It is better to slowly foster a culture of life along with incremental laws that restrict abortion—rather than to spend all of our political capital on a move that might not pay off, and will only be walked back in subsequent years.
Sadly, this sort of fool’s wager is exactly what pro-life Trump advocates are arguing for. Clinton may want to increase the supply for abortion, but Trump will increase demand. Donald Trump is the apotheosis of the sexual revolution’s worst male impulses. He has spent his entire life creating the culture that encourages abortions. He has profited off of the exploitation of women and spoken openly of his own proclivity for sexual assault—both of which undermine any argument pro-life conservatives might ever make for a culture of life. By forcing prominent conservatives to downplay or dismiss these, Trump actively tarnishes their credibility and turns the moral high ground they might otherwise stand on into quicksand.
If Hillary Clinton is taking shots at the culture of life from the outside, Donald Trump is a rot poisoning us from the inside. Any time he has spoken about abortion (which is not often, indicating how unimportant the cause is to him), he has only managed to embarrass the pro-life cause by associating himself with it. Some have suggested that Trump will be held in check or redirected by the “good people” he has surrounded himself with. But he has only managed to corrupt and debase those associated with him. He talks about “the evangelicals” like a pimp who owns them. In turn, far too many pro-lifers have acted like the Biblical character of Oholibah, who prostituted herself to pagan political powers in exchange for protection.
But What About the Supreme Court?
The most pro-life argument for Donald Trump revolves around his promise to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, who would at some point find some way to overturn Roe v. Wade. But in the words of Leon Wolf, “If you believe that Trump has actual pro-life principles or that he will honor any sort of pledge to only appoint pro-life justices, then you have to be one of the most monumental suckers who has ever lived.” Trump’s promises to the pro-life movement are as worthless as a Trump University degree or one of his previous marriage contracts. There is simply no pro-life case for Trump.
But even in the best-case scenario, where Trump does win and does appoint a Supreme Court justice or two that’s favorable to the pro-life cause, his foolish antics will undoubtedly punish down-ballot Republicans in the next few election cycles (assuming that they aren’t battered hard enough this November). With Trump as the de facto standard bearer for the pro-life movement, any anti-abortion measures will have to overcome the gravitational force of his sleaziness to get anywhere. Despite claims that Trump would be a life preserver for the pro-life movement, he is a millstone around our neck. The only way to survive is to let go and keep swimming.
Supporting a Third-Party Candidate Is a Better Option
We shouldn’t give up hope, though. We can organize and unite in support of a comprehensive pro-life strategy that makes abortion both unthinkable and illegal. If enough of us cast third-party votes for candidates who believe in such a strategy—like Mike Maturen of the American Solidarity Party or independent candidate Evan McMullin—it could get the attention of Republicans and Democrats who take the country’s pro-life majority for granted. We still have enough wealth and power to support vulnerable mothers in our communities—or move to places where more people are vulnerable.
A Supreme Court justice appointment was never designed to be the lynchpin of any political fight for human rights. And there is nothing Donald Trump could possibly do for pro-lifers that would outweigh his irrepressible penchant for corrupting and bankrupting anything he touches. Pro-lifers face a dark time ahead with the likely election of Hillary Clinton, but there is still hope as long as we keep fighting for justice on behalf of the unborn.
First, though, we have to abandon the fool who openly celebrates what a culture of life rejects. He will only pimp us out for votes and then dump us on the curb, where a watching world will laugh and sneer when he’s done.