“Pro-lifers are hypocrites!”

I want to spend just a moment today challenging the common misconception that pro-life people only care about women and babies up until the moment that the baby is born and that really it’s only from conception to natural birth that pro-life people are pro-life. Otherwise, we’re hypocrites. We’re actually not pro-life at all. We’re just pro-birth. Is that true?

I would think that it would be pretty obvious on its face that to call Christians only concerned about people from conception up until birth would be an easy thing to demonstrate as something that’s probably untrue, especially from a historical sense. Before I put it in the context of abortion and babies, let me put it in the context of history. Let me take you back first to the ancient practice of foot binding in China.

Foot binding used to be what men considered to make women more beautiful if they had small feet. Small feet meant that women walked daintily and swayed as they walked. So in order to please men, it became a common practice in China to bind women’s feet. What that means is when a female baby was born, they would soon after begin the process of breaking the bones of the foot and using strips of cloth to bind the foot together so that it was impossible for it to grow. It was not uncommon for feet to never grow more than four or five inches long, even as adults, because they would never take the binding off for the rest of their lives.

This was a horrible practice and was extremely painful. Many women lost their feet to amputation because of this practice. During the Qing dynasty, I think upwards of 50% of all women in China had their feet bound. In the aristocracy, virtually every upper class woman in China had her feet bound by her parents when she was born because it hurt your chances of being married if you didn’t have bound feet. It’s considered savage and backwards and brutal if your feet were not bound.

I arrived in China in 2003 and the communist ruling party in 1949 officially put an end to foot binding. It was already almost extinct at that point. But I remember in 2003 seeing old ladies with feet four or five inches long. I think those days are past. In China now, I can tell you that it was actually Christians who put an end to this barbaric practice in China. In fact, one of the first was the Irish missionary James McGowan in 1875. He got nine women together in a home, and he had them commit to the following three things. Number one, they would not bind the feet of their own daughters. Number two, they would allow their sons to marry women who did not have bound feet. And number three, they would go through the excruciating process of unbinding their own feet, because when those straps were released, the release of tension was unimaginably painful. So these women did that.

Starting with nine women, they began the Quit Foot Binding Society of China in 1875, aptly named Quit Foot Binding Society. And the movement grew. Within a generation, foot binding in China was all but unheard of, thanks to the piling on of other missionaries in other parts of China who joined in the rescue movement to save the feet and the dignity of women all over China. Foot binding was ended by pro-life missionaries who cared about women after they were born.

You might remember the stories of people like Corrie Ten Boom who hid Jews in her house during the Holocaust of Nazi Germany in World War II. Eventually, she went to a concentration camp to pay for her own “sins”, but she thought it was worth it to be pro-life and to show a pro-life ethic of valuing every human life, even after people were born.

William Wilberforce helped put an end to the slave trade. William Carey went to India and virtually ended the practice of Sati, which was when men died and their bodies were burned on a funeral pyre, it was expected that their wives, in loyalty to their husbands, would throw themselves onto the funeral pyre and burn themselves alive to show solidarity with him. If they didn’t do that, they were bad wives, and so there was pressure. At some point, women were even thrown into the fire because they wouldn’t jump onto the fire themselves. That practice was outlawed by a life loving missionary William Carey.

Mary Slessor went around Nigeria and collected twins who had been discarded because everybody thought if you had one baby, they knew who the father was, but if you had two babies, it must be a demon that was the father of the second baby. Because of this you wouldn’t know which one was the demon baby and which one was yours. So twins were commonly discarded. She adopted over 120 children herself because she collected twins in Nigeria.

It was pro-life Christians who took the point of the spear on the Underground Railroad. It was pro-life Christians who invented the Red Cross. It was pro-life Christians who invented the ideas of universities and hospitals. It was pro-life Christians who invented the ideas of orphanages. Hospice care was invented by Christians. The Salvation Army was invented by Christians. The Braille language was invented by a Christian who wanted to be sure that blind people could still have access to and read the word of God.

Anywhere you see the addicted, the widow, the fatherless, the orphan, the imprisoned, the homeless, the unemployed, the undereducated, the mentally unwell, the elderly, the refugee, anywhere you see anyone who is otherwise marginalized, you will find Christians leading the charge to minister to the needs of those people. So it is an absolute fabrication, an absolute abomination, to call pro-life Christians hypocrites because they only care about babies up until the point that they are born.

I can tell you with Passion Life, we care very deeply about the babies after they have been born, including the mothers. We have programs all over the world to help people learn how to be better mothers, how to grow in their mothering, to find jobs, to find housing, etc.

We work with women for years after a baby is born, whether they make a profession of Christianity or not, because what we care about is the glory of God. What God cares about is human beings and the inherent and intrinsic value found in every single image bearer on the planet.

No matter how old or young, wealthy or poor, no matter what their skin color or language, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and no matter what their size, whether they are full grown adults or preborn babies, we all have inherent value and dignity if they are members of the human race. Thereby they all carry the stamp of the image of God in their bodies and on their souls. We thank you for tuning in today and we encourage you to arm yourself with these apologetic answers to the questions that commonly assail pro-life Christians. You can learn more at passionlife.org.