What does it mean to be consistently pro-life? Some things I think obviously fall short of consistency (e.g. exceptions for rape). But some problems are far more vexing and complicated. Not everything is clear.
Recently I’ve been dealing with this issue for the 2016 election. I don’t like one single candidate enough to actually vote for them so far. But thinking about my options has led to a curious and difficult question. Who do you do when you think a pro-life candidate will lead to more killings if elected, and a pro-choice one will lead to less?
For example, say candidate A is pro-life, but otherwise is an awful candidate. You suspect both that he will not do anything about abortion, and that in fact his policies are so bad that many more people will be driven into poverty and despair, and thus seek abortions. On the other hand, candidate B is pro-choice, but otherwise is an excellent candidate. You suspect that he also will do nothing about abortion, for or against, and that in fact his policies are so good that many people are lifted out of poverty and despair, and thus many fewer will seek abortions.
My first instinct is to go with candidate A. After all, I can’t know for sure what will happen, and I wouldn’t want my vote in any way to go behind a pro-choice policy, even if it doesn’t actually do anything. How can I compromise on human life?
But imagine this scenario is tweaked. This time, the Doctor comes from the future and gives you access to statistical data at the end of the next Presidency for each option. As it turns out, you were right. If pro-life candidate A wins, his awful policies will lead to twice as many abortions as candidate B’s. Twice as many children will be brutally murdered if candidate A becomes President.
Back in the present, does this affect your vote? If you know that twice as many children will be aborted if the pro-life candidate A wins the election, will you instead vote for pro-choice candidate B, even if that means in some sense compromising your values? Will you put your vote behind someone who supports the right to kill infants if it will save the lives of many infants?
I don’t know about you, but if I had such future knowledge settled I would vote for candidate B in a heartbeat. Not only are most of his policies good, but even though he supports a pro-choice policy I could still help save hundreds, even thousands, of children. But this becomes much more difficult when brought back to the real world, where such foreknowledge is hidden. We don’t know what effects any given President will have on abortion rates, assuming that none of them will/can do anything about abortion itself (which is probably true of all the candidates running right now). We can only guess. But how certain or uncertain must we be to decide? Maybe you don’t know that candidate B will lead to way less abortions, but you’re pretty convinced. Maybe you’re 80% certain, or even 90%. Then how do you vote?
This is the problem I’ve been wrestling with. Right now there is no resolution in sight. I don’t like anyone in the running right now, but abortion could swing me if I had good reason to believe children might benefit from any particular candidate’s Presidency. So I don’t know what I will do.
How about you? What do you think about this dilemma? Would you vote for A or B? If you had that hypothetical future knowledge, would you vote for A or B? What is the right way to handle this?