Author archives: Bailey Zimmitti

Why It’s Wrong to be “Personally” Pro-Life and Publicly Pro-Choice

by Bailey Zimmitti

August 21, 2019

On my college campus, one of the most common pro-choice arguments that I hear from other students is that they are “personally pro-life,” but don’t think that they can tell women what to do with their bodies. While this may seem like a way to tip-toe around the abortion debate, it is still a dangerous ideology because it frames the abortion debate in a completely misleading context.

The “personally pro-life” perspective operates under the framework of moral relativism—the idea that there is no objective standard by which we can assess the moral quality of certain actions. This kind of “you do you” mantra encompasses an attitude which deems certain actions that were historically given moral quality as in fact morally neutral—right for some, wrong for others. Don’t get me wrong—there are some actions that are morally neutral. Taking evening walks, wearing sandals, listening to Beethoven’s Für Elise—these are all morally neutral actions. Some people may like these activities and some may not, but there is no moral consequence either way.

The question is this: is abortion a morally neutral action? Pro-lifers say no, and here’s why.

There are two premises that one must accept in order to be pro-life:

1.    The killing of an innocent human person is objectively wrong.

This premise is easy to accept. Killing an innocent human person is widely understood to be wrong—not only because of Scriptural authority like the Ten Commandments, but also because we recognize the inherent dignity of the human person under U.S. law.

2.    Abortion is the killing of an innocent human person.

This premise is a little harder for people to accept, but it is the key to being pro-life. Once the personhood and inherent dignity of all humans is recognized—even the unborn ones—then the logical conclusion that abortion is objectively wrong can’t be denied.

When we talk about the “right to choose,” we completely bypass this fundamental point of disagreement between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. When we dance around the abortion debate with words like “choice” that sound nice, we often fail to ask the key question that Lila Rose asks: “What is being chosen?” Pro-lifers believe that abortion is the killing of a human person. How then can someone who is “personally pro-life” call this a “right”?

What if we applied this kind of argument to other kinds of moral wrongs? What if we said, “I mean I personally wouldn’t rob a bank, but if you really need the money, you do you!” That obviously makes no sense. That’s because in 2019, we don’t politicize robbing banks in such a way where it is framed as a “right” or “choice.”

Those who take the “personally pro-life” stance may feel like it’s an empowering position to take, but it’s important to recognize that holding others to a lower moral standard than that to which we hold ourselves actually disempowers us by implying that we are worth more than others are and that our children are worth more than other people’s children are.

The bottom line is this: in order to have a true sense of the common good, one cannot believe that abortion kills an innocent person and also believe that others can claim it as a choice worthy of the title “right.”

Bailey Zimmitti is an intern at Family Research Council.

Pregnant Women Aren’t Foolish. So Why Do Pro-Choicers Treat Them Like They Are?

by Bailey Zimmitti

August 12, 2019

Those dedicated to the pro-life movement understand that there are two people in need of defense in an unplanned pregnancy—the woman and her unborn child. The child’s undeniable right to life is an obvious subject of focus among pro-lifers, but the women carrying these children need attention too.

No sensible person would think that poverty and other adverse life circumstances render a person foolish or less dignified. So why does our society often treat women with unplanned pregnancies like they’re ignorant? Why do we treat these women like they need a savior to rescue them instead of like the dignified grown women that they are?

In 2017, while volunteering for a pregnancy resource center (PRC) called ABC Women’s Center in Middletown, Connecticut, I witnessed for myself the abhorrent savior complex of pro-abortion advocates. On an early Wednesday morning, our staff got word of a protest that was co-organized by NARAL Pro-Choice CT and Lady Parts Justice League as a part of the “#exposefakeclinics” campaign. What NARAL did not consider was that since we served many single mothers, and that since it was the summer when kids are not in school, the mothers always took their kids with them to come for parenting classes and other services at ABC. We didn’t want them or their children to be forcefully exposed to that kind of hurtful rhetoric. But when the mothers asked why we were asking them to reschedule, we told them the truth—and they were angry. Very angry.

And then something amazing happened: our clients asked to come and peacefully counter-protest the anti-pregnancy center protest. And we listened. We bought signs, markers, and water bottles, and our coalition of mothers and ministers were ready when NARAL arrived.

Oftentimes in the abortion debate, we talk about giving women with unplanned pregnancies a voice where they previously did not have one. That’s exactly what happened at the ABC Women’s Center in Middletown—these women spoke for themselves. But instead of listening, Connecticut’s pro-abortion activists are covering their ears. They targeted pregnancy centers again this past month with a dangerous piece of legislation aimed at undermining PRCs.

On June 6, HB7070, “An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertising Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers” thankfully failed in the Connecticut State Senate after it was not called on for a vote by midnight. One of the most frustrating aspects of this debate was that the proponents of the bill could not cite a single complaint filed against any pregnancy center in the state. This clearly shows that these kinds of actions from the Left do not concern the safety and flourishing of women; they are instead focused on advancing their own agendas at any cost, even if it means stifling the voices of real women with real unplanned pregnancies.

The Left’s narrative is that “deceptive advertising” is used by pregnancy resource centers and that low-income women of color must be protected from the wicked snares of white conservative Christians. This narrative is a lie. Women with unplanned pregnancies already have individual, dignified, worthy voices—and trust me, they have plenty to say. The problem is that we are not listening.

The mothers from ABC came on that scorching day in 2017 so that the liberal elitist voices wouldn’t drown out theirs. One pro-abortion woman dressed in a superhero outfit spoke into a microphone about giving voice to the voiceless—while the very women she claimed to defend stood in front of her expressing exactly what they need and want.

Women who are facing unplanned pregnancies are not stupid, so let’s not speak for them. Let’s listen to them and to the men and women who work with and for them.

Pro-choicers have created a narrative that says that a pregnant mother’s choice to accept help to carry her unplanned baby to term isn’t a worthy choice. This is not “pro-choice”—it’s pro-abortion.

Pro-choice activists cannot continue to berate pro-lifers for “not doing anything” when the work that pro-lifers are doing to help mothers to make an informed choice is being jeopardized by legislation and activism from the same group who claims that “choice” is everything.

Bailey Zimmitti was an intern at Family Research Council.

Helping Those in Need Should Not Be Political

by Bailey Zimmitti

August 5, 2019

On Wednesday, July 24, two FRC interns joined a group of pro-life interns in the office of Representative Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) for a briefing on current pro-life topics on the Hill. Students in attendance represented various colleges, organizations, and party affiliations, but all shared a common belief in the inherent dignity of all human life.

Rep. Lipinski gave the interns a synopsis of his political career in great humility, highlighting his desire to serve his constituents above any political agenda. He admitted that he is one of the very few Democrats who votes consistently and unwaveringly pro-life despite the increasing pressure among his fellow Democrats to oppose the Hyde Amendment and to support abortion expansion bills. He emphasized the importance of standing true to what is right even in the face of strong opposition: “If it costs me being a member of Congress, that’s a small price to pay.”

I had the honor of posing a question I have asked myself many times as a student caught in the midst of a political warzone known as the modern college campus:

How can we depoliticize abortion and come together for the sake of human rights?

Building a Coalition

The pro-life population consists mostly of conservatives, but that does not mean that being pro-life is an exclusively conservative position. Rather, pro-lifers from various creeds and parties should come together for the sake of human dignity and learn how to steer discourse about abortion away from politics and towards the truth of human dignity.

Rep. Lipinski agreed that there are a number of reasons to be pro-life—believing that every human is a child created in the image of God, believing in conservatism and the preservation and protection of the family under natural law, believing in science and the undeniable reality that life begins at conception, and even being a Democrat and believing that the government’s duty to protect the most innocent and vulnerable begins with the most innocent and vulnerable—children in the womb.

He explained that we have to dispel the myth that pro-life means “anti-woman.” We have to show that pro-life is pro-woman, and that it is a position that excludes no creed or group of people.

He cited a great example of what this coming together looks like: as a part of their Bottles to the Border campaign, New Wave Feminists, a secular pro-life group founded by Destiny Hernan de la Rosa, teamed up with Abby Johnson’s And Then There Were None (ATTWN) coalition along with other pro-life groups. They asked supporters for donations on two Amazon wishlists and were overwhelmed by pro-lifers’ eagerness to give.

The first list was completed within 48 hours. By the grace of God, a member of the ATTWN shared the mission with their church and ended up sharing with the owner of a trucking company who generously donated an 18-wheeler to deliver the supplies. In order to fill the rest of the truck, they launched another wishlist, which was also speedily bought out.

The two groups had delivered $120,000 worth of supplies and over $70,000 in aid funding to various different respite centers on the southern border.

In response, many conservatives have asked Abby Johnson if her work on the border meant that she supported open border policies, to which she responded:

No, I don’t support lawlessness, I don’t support an open border, I support legal immigration, doing it the right way, but the bottom line is I don’t have the answer, I don’t know the answer, but I can deliver these wipes so that babies’ butts are clean and they’re not getting infections. And I know how to make sure that a baby can get fed, and that’s really what this is about. And that’s what it is to be the Church, to meet the needs that are right in front of us.

This Is Not Our True Country

It seems that one mistake many conservatives make is loyalty to the party over the kingdom. We belong to no one else more than we belong to our Creator. At the end of the day, no matter how much we love the United States of America—and trust me, I do—this is not our true country.

20th century writer Flannery O’Connor wrote in a famous essay entitled “The Fiction Writer and His Country” of this concept of “true country.” Her treatment of writers may well also be said of public figures as well as the average citizen invested in his country’s politics:

The writer’s value is lost, both to himself and to his country, as soon as he ceases to see that country as a part of himself, and to know oneself is, above all, to know what one lacks. It is to measure oneself against Truth, and not the other way around. The first product of self-knowledge is humility, and this is not a virtue conspicuous in any national character.

Social issues like abortion and serving at the border are not about politics—they are about human beings. Where there are people suffering, the church has a duty to serve in humility and loving kindness no matter what political no-man’s-land we must cross to do so. Democrats can fight abortion and Republicans can serve at the border, that we might all enter our true country and be greeted with these words:

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ … ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25: 34-36, 40).

Bailey Zimmitti is an intern at Family Research Council.

How to Talk About Abortion: 3 Ways to Frame the Debate

by Bailey Zimmitti

July 26, 2019

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of social media posts from both ends of the political spectrum about whether or not we should be friends with people on the “other side.” Because abortion is one of the most divisive issues of our generation, this question has particularly intrigued me as I have navigated both academic and personal relationships as a pro-life college student.

At one point, I started to scale back my visibility within the pro-life movement on campus because it clearly wasn’t a glamorous opinion to have. To my delight, avoiding hot topics like abortion made my life a lot easier. But as Christians, we are not called to shy away from the abortion debate. We are called to be witnesses to the truth of the gospel.

As I have begun to be more visible online and on campus within the pro-life movement, the biggest obstacle that I have encountered when discussing the issue is that more often than not, pro-lifers and pro-choicers are operating from completely different worldviews. This means we must frame the debate in an effective manner and carefully define our terms. This will help us to have real conversations with those we disagree with rather than having contests to see who can better regurgitate jargon from either side of the debate.

Here are three important ways for pro-lifers to frame the debate:

1. Judging actions and judging people are not the same thing.

You’ll often hear pro-choice rhetoric that claims that Christian pro-lifers are judgmental, when the Bible says not to judge. The passage they’re talking about comes from Matthew 7:1, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” As with most pro-choicers who quote Scripture to make a point, this passage is taken out of context.

When Jesus says this famous line in Matthew 7:1, he does not prohibit people from judging the actions of others. If you keep reading, he says, “You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Mt 7:5). The entire point of the passage is that Christians should not judge arrogantly, with sin in their hearts, but rather with pure hearts in order to compassionately and effectively bring others closer to a life of authentic joy in Christ Jesus.

Even though this is hard to swallow, it’s the truth: we are called to judge. The critical distinction is that we are called to judge actions, not people. There is a difference between judging the moral quality of an act and judging a person’s character (i.e. “killing an unborn child is wrong” versus “you are a bad person for thinking that abortion is permissible”).

What does this look like in the abortion debate? I know that abortion is evil, but I don’t think that women who have had abortions are evil. I know that the abortion industry’s rhetoric and agenda are manipulative and wrong, but I don’t have personal hatred for the people who work in the industry. I understand that having an abortion is never an easy decision. I understand that abortion is a physically and emotionally devastating thing to go through. I understand that abortion workers feel like they are helping women. But understanding these things does not cloud my ability to say with clear conviction that abortion takes the life of an innocent child, and that this should not be legal.

2. There is no “neutral” position in this debate.

Pro-choice advocates often respond to pro-lifers by saying, “You don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. But don’t impose your belief on someone else.” But this misses the point. We in the pro-life movement know that the deaths of millions of human persons are being incentivized in a for-profit industry, and this cannot remain legal. The point of having laws is to establish an ordinance of reason for the common good. If abortion is contrary to reason and the common good, then it should be illegal.

There is no such thing as a truly “neutral” position in the abortion debate. Either abortion takes the life of an innocent person, or it does not. This is one of the hardest pills to swallow about the abortion debate, but one of the most crucial.

3. Those on the other side are not our enemies.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the scribe asks Jesus who our neighbor is (Luke 10:29), and Jesus demonstrates that we are called to reach out in love without condition to all men as our neighbors.

In light of Christ’s new definition of “neighbor,” it seems appropriate to give a new definition of “enemy.” Returning to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the just and the unjust’” (Matthew 5:43-45).

So, who is our enemy? Typically, a pro-lifer might define their enemy as any pro-abortion advocate, and vice versa. While there is no doubt that the tension between those with battling ideologies is inevitable, we must always remember that the pro-lifer’s enemy is abortion itself, not pro-abortion advocates. So, when we talk to someone on the opposite side of the abortion debate or any other issue, we have to straddle our duty to deliver the gospel in truth and charity.

I once wrote an online homework assignment visible to the professor and students about Audre Lorde’s comments on abortion, and no one addressed me on it. I was fuming. A friend from that class said to me afterwards, “I’m glad you wrote your assignment about abortion. I’m pro-choice and I don’t believe that a fetus is a person, but if I did, and I thought that millions of people were being systematically killed, I would speak out too.”

Delivering the truth in charity is not easy when there are so many terms and worldviews to reconcile, but if we lack charity, policy debates will get us nowhere. It’s time to cast aside our fears about others not liking us and remember, “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Bailey Zimmitti is an intern at Family Research Council.

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