On issue of poverty, Bush is not 'pro-life'

October 19, 2004

Dear Editor:

Recent letter writers have urged votes for President Bush because he is "pro-life." A closer look at actual results, rather than the president's rhetoric, might be surprising.

When President Bush took office, abortion had been decreasing. According to Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and the Guttmacher Institute, abortion rates by 2000 were at a 24-year low, having declined 17.4 percent during the 1990s.

But a recent study by Dr. Glen Stassen, professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, found that in 11 of the 16 states reporting statistics, abortion rates have risen every year since President Bush took office. Readers of The New York Times saw last week that abortion rates had risen since 2001.


Why has the decade-long pattern of declining abortion rates reversed under President Bush? Attempts to answer this question must examine the broader economic context in which the tragic decision to abort occurs.

Since George Bush took office, four million Americans have fallen into poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, this administration has presided over a net loss of almost one million jobs. More significantly, the number of Americans with no health insurance rose from 41 million when this president took office to 45 million now (15.6 percent of the U.S. population)!

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life reports that two-thirds of women who choose abortions relate that they cannot afford to raise a child. It is all too easy to denounce this judgment, but if we really want to do something about it, we must understand some of its root causes and address them realistically.

Nothing can be more pro-life than to vote for an economy in which every job pays a wage that can lift a worker out of poverty, in which every life can be sustained with affordable health care, and in which every family will have the resources it needs to raise a child. In such a context, women are less likely to find themselves in situations that offer them only horribly tragic choices.

And for those of us who sincerely want to vote with consciences informed by biblical morality, a fair reading of the actual content of the Bible reveals that no issue of social ethics was more important to biblical writers than the issue of poverty. On that issue, the Bush Administration has a record that is decidedly not "pro-life."

Rick Axtell


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