Last week, a Texas grand jury indicted activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt last week for allegedly using fake IDs and attempting to buy fetal tissue. Both of the Center for Medical Progress, the pair concealed their identities while attempting to frame/highlight the willingness of Planned Parenthood employees to sell fetal tissue, capturing their conversations on a series of videos first released last summer. Christianity Today reached out to Daniel K. Williams, a historian of the pro-life movement, and Focus on the Family president Jim Daly to provide their perspective on the ethics of the pairs’ actions."
Before Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement vehemently denounced the idea that the end justifies the means. Abortion legalization advocates argued from a utilitarian perspective, maintaining that societal well-being, women’s health, and population pressures could be improved through the legalization of at least some abortions. Pro-lifers argued that no cause could justify the destruction of innocent unborn human life.
It’s therefore ironic that a number of pro-life activists during the past few decades have unwittingly adopted a utilitarian ethic that their movement’s founders opposed. When pro-lifers break the law or engage in unethical behavior on the assumption that such actions will save unborn lives, they indicate that they believe that certain ethical principles can be circumvented in order to accomplish a greater good. But this is the same framework the movement’s utilitarian-minded opponents used to call for the liberalization of abortion laws, arguing that the loosening of abortion restrictions would save women’s lives and reduce poverty.
Pro-life activists ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 63+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more