Will “pro-lifers” ever care about protecting the lives of the born?

crying baby

As you probably know, I and other child advocates have been embroiled in a fight to save the health and lives of sick and injured children who are being raised in extreme “faith healing” religious groups. As of late, many of us have focused on Idaho. Not because it’s the only state that doesn’t penalize parents who deny their children life-saving medical care, but because it has a large (and apparently powerful) religious group that’s killing an average of 2 children a year through religious medical neglect.

While most Idahoans seem to support changing the laws so that all parents are required to give their children necessary medical care, there are those who hate the idea. It’s hard to say why. These opponents don’t say much about why it’s okay to let a child suffer and die from such medically treatable conditions as diabetes, infection, and cancer. Instead, they often express their caps-button-locked outrage about another issue: abortion.

As an example, on February 4, a woman named Racheal Ankeny from Nampa, Idaho, wrote this letter to the editor in response to one I wrote advocating for all children to receive necessary medical care:

It would be interesting to know how many of those same people who support the removal of the religious exemption that allows parents to not choose medical treatment for their children also buttress the right to abortion. Only a twisted power-monger would want the right to kill her own baby or for other women to kill their own babies, but not let parents opt out of medical care. Hmmm, maybe those of you who find yourselves in this camp should just invoke your Supreme Court-given right to death and leave other people’s children alone!

Pro-lifers like Ms. Ankeny seem pleased to have flashed upon what they see as hypocrisy among child advocates working on this issue. That is, they think it’s contradictory to support a woman’s right to choose and a child’s right to life. Putting aside the false assumption that every advocate who supports repealing these exemptions is also pro-choice, I’m thrilled that Ms. Ankeny and other pro-lifers seem to be on the verge of an important realization: All life is valuable.

The way I see it, if pro-lifers think it’s hypocritical to devalue the life of a fetus and, simultaneously, value the life of the born, then couldn’t they also see that it’s hypocritical to oppose abortion and support the killing of children who have exited the womb? And if they cross that bridge, isn’t it possible for them to support both the lives of the unborn and the born? 

This point is not lost on Sen. Richard Briggs of Tennessee who is close to seeing his bill to repeal that state’s exemptions pass. In a recent article, Sen. Briggs said this about supporters of religious exemptions:

They were arguing both on religious and parental rights, that even if a child dies, the parent has a right to do what they want to do. I told them they had just made a great case for abortion, because the right to life does not stop at birth. The right to life is for the entire life. Part of your parental rights, duties and responsibility includes obtaining medical care when your child needs it.

Think of the opportunity here. If pro-lifers in Idaho could expand their thinking to also want to protect the lives of the born, it could mean a surge of support for vulnerable kids and give them a chance to avoid ongoing pain, longterm illness, disability, and death. Unfortunately, though, that doesn’t seem to be happening in Idaho. Why? Because these folks are not principally led by ethics—or reason for that matter. They are led by religion. Or what they believe religion is.

For religious conservatives to recognize the value of all life, they would have to be convinced that their religion supports it. And so I ask you…does anyone know of a scriptural passage of any religion that supports the life of a child? If you do, please provide it below. I will compile a list of anything that has been published in a religious text that speaks to the need to preserve the lives of the born.

Maybe then religious conservatives will advocate for all life, including that of infants, children, and teens in extreme “faith healing” groups  and households.


  1. Good article, nail on the head type deal.

  2. Christopher S. Fite says:

    What about the right-wing born-again Christian anti-abortion people, who speak of “the sanctity of human life”, but who support wars? They are so disgusting to me, I can hardly stand it. At least the Pope considers whether a given war is a “just war”, before approving it. So, I can sort of respect the Pope when he says he’s “pro-life” , but I do not respect the right-wing born-again Christians who say they’re “pro-life”, and who are warmongers. These people should never be called “pro-life”, but should merely be called anti-abortion.Don’t call them “pro-life”.

  3. Larry Farr says:

    Good morning, Janet,
    Mariah Walton’s sickening situation was also on HLN’s ” Dr. Drew ” . Concerning your request, I have no formal Biblical training and I do not retain everything I read. I decided to examine my own personal library, check the indexes for ” children “, compare them to your bibliography and list the books that may contain useful information for you and list authors that may support you;
    ” The god Delusion ” ( I never capitalize the g in god ) by Richard Dawkins
    ” Losing Faith in Faith ” by Dan Barker
    ” Kingdom Coming ” by Michelle Goldberg
    ” The Fundamentals of Extremism; The Christian Right in America ” edited by Kimberly Blaker
    ” god is not great; How Religion Poisons Everything ” by the late Christopher Hitchens
    ” Breaking Their Will ” by Ja… oh, that’s you.
    My apology if this was a waste of time for you; it was not for me; anytime I spend advancing ASH ( Agnostic/Atheistic Secular Humanism ) is not a waste of time. Planning on attending the AHA Conference May 26-29; maybe I will see you there. Thanks for taking an active role in helping these precious children.
    Your friend,

  4. David Tutt says:

    How can Western theistic traditions, that laud Abraham’s “willingness” to kill his son, Isaac, as a basic model for faith, be expected to think of children, in their possession, in some sense, as little more than chattel?

    David Tutt

  5. Deb Sills says:

    1 Timothy 5:8
    But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

    I believe providing covers medical needs and relatives definitely covers children.

  6. A.R.Hooper says:

    I’m a born again Christian. Raised Baltist. However, I’m an independent and on some occasions have referred to myself as libertarian. I am pro-Choice. I agree with most everything stated here. Let me say in part, There are numerous passages in the Bible that refer to the lives of children. If you are referring to the preservation of a pregnancy please make that more clear? If you are asking for direct quotations in any religious text regarding abortion or the preservation of pregnancy until birth please state that as such? As of now I am just reading this article as a request for passages in religious scripture that “supports the life of a child”. I would recommend Matthew 19:14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” in the Bible. Any translation to start would be noteworthy.

  7. It’s unlikely passages that exist to protect the life of a child would change the minds of Christian conservatives. For most Biblical passages conservatives use to support their views on a broad array of issues, there are other Biblical passages in complete conflict. Religious conservatism has various underlying reasons for the beliefs they adhere to. Authoritarian personality is one of the biggest factors. Their anti-abortion beliefs are more about patriarchy (controlling women’s choices and bodies) than concern for the unborn. This is evidenced in that they oppose any form of public assistance for children.

Leave a Reply to Aralyn Hughes Cancel reply