I often hear the following accusation from Christians on the left: conservatives only care about children before they are born. In other words, conservatives fixate on the issue of abortion while ignoring other social evils, such as poverty.
There are two points to be made in response. First, this accusation is probably unfair. It is certainly true that conservatives often disagree with liberals on issues such as healthcare, welfare, and the minimum wage. However, such disagreements hardly demonstrate that conservatives lack concern for the poor. I am opposed to many liberal policies, but this is not because I do not care about the poor. It is because I honestly believe that these well-intended policies will ultimately harm the poor.
Moreover, consider the following argument which the pro-slavery writer T. W. MacMahon employed against the abolitionists of the nineteenth century:
Philanthropy was, or is, too deeply occupied with the negro to expend any of its “charity” upon the starving white wretches [i.e. impoverished European laborers], who stood, or stand, trembling, and almost lifeless, at its doors. Blind to the excruciating slavery that surrounds it, it sounds the tocsin of pity and sympathy on behalf of the well fed, well clothed, and well cared for, negroes of America. (Cause and Contrast: An Essay on the American Crisis, 1862, 74-75)
In short, MacMahon accuses abolitionists of fixating on the issue of slavery while ignoring other social evils. Consider also this passage from the same work:
Having, by satanic promises and fair words, charmed away many of those docile and credulous creatures, they abandoned them to their own unfortunate fate [in the North]. … The negro is degraded, a vagabond and an outcast … and always used as the medium of self-laudation by the hypocrite. …The people do not understand him – do not care for him – feel that they have no special interest in him – have no sympathy, that is not purely objective, with him – and treat him only as a medium of “moral” excitement. (67-68)
In other words, according to MacMahon, abolitionists only care about blacks before they attain freedom.
Now MacMahon’s accusations are probably unfair. More importantly, however, these accusations are irrelevant. Proving that abolitionists are hypocrites does nothing to show that slavery should be legal. Likewise, proving that conservatives are hypocrites does nothing to show that abortion should be legal. Thus, even if true, the accusation of pro-life hypocrisy is irrelevant to the abortion debate.