September 8, 2021

Pro-Life Hypocrisy: Slay Your Inner Hypocrite

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

Pro-Life Hypocrisy

“Pro-Life Hypocrisy” might have been a term created to slander the pro-life movement, but it doesn’t mean pro-lifers, even pro-life Christians, are safe from practicing hypocrisy.

Sometimes, like all humans, we act selfishly for personal gain. Other times, we make poor judgments based on limited knowledge. We can let petty distractions (anger, fear, pride, offense, arrogance) dictate our words and actions. For this reason, being able to check ourselves and our motives against the ultimate goal of the pro-life movement is a vital practice for any pro-life advocate.

The beginning and end of every passionate pro-life effort should be surrounded with love and deep respect for every human life, preborn or otherwise.

A march for life sign saying "America's great pandemic abortion"

“America’s Great Pandemic Abortion” | Photo taken at the March for Life 2021

Slaying the Inner Hypocrite

Taking an honest look at ourselves can be a harrowing quest. So, as we dive into pro-life hypocrisy, let’s do so with the bravery of one of our favorite literary heroes — hobbits, as found in several of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most popular works like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

People, in general, are like hobbits. We enjoy the comfort of home, the solace of familiar things. We’re relatively simple creatures, some of us more harry-footed than others, but most of us are also braver than we think. We may shy away from a dragon-slaying adventure, like hobbits, but as Bilbo and Frodo bravely left the shire, we too can make the choice to venture beyond our comfort zones.

Greedy Smaug, the dragon, has taken residence in our hearts. Ousting Smaug, self-proclaimed “King Under the Mountain,” will be the adventure of a lifetime with rewards greater than silver and gold. But we can’t defeat a dragon if we’re too afraid to look at him.

Begin Your Journey


What Does Real Pro-Life Hypocrisy Look Like?

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” 

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

Pro-life People vs Pro-life Politics

A quick Google search reveals that pro-abortion activists have extensive lists of ways they believe pro-life advocates are hypocritical. Oddly, items in this list are either blatantly false claims about most pro-lifers or have a lot to do with political bias. Often, they point to the far extremes of questionable pro-life efforts while assuming that all pro-lifers are Republicans.

The value of a human is not dependent on a political party or presidential candidate. For this reason, when discussing pro-life hypocrisy, we’ll distance ourselves from any discussion of “left” or “right” beliefs. 

If you are human, you are worthy of basic human rights; agreeing with that statement is not reserved for Republicans. There are many Democrats and Independents who hold “pro-life for the whole-life” values.

Abortion is not a Republican vs Democrat issue. In the same sense, abortion is not a Science vs Bible issue. Many non-Christians are pro-life (Secular pro-life). Agreeing with scientific evidence on when life begins isn’t reserved for the religious. Similarly, one does not have to be born on American soil to believe in the “unalienable rights” outlined by the United States’s foundational documents. 

pro-life hypocrisy democrat for life stands with a pro-life sign

A member of the DFLA (Democrats for Life of America), attends the 2021 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Abortion is not a head issue but a heart issue, a complex debate of compassion for both mother and baby. For this reason, political squabbles have done little to combat the common root causes of abortion: poverty, hopelessness and misinformation. And this leads us to our first real pro-life hypocrisy.

Chapter One

Pro-Life Hypocrisy #1: Politics Over People

“’Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!’ he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say ‘out of the frying-pan into the fire’ in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

Pro-Life Hypocrisy of Politics Over People

There are several occurrences of the pro-life movement using a recovering person to make political points. For example, it is well argued that, at various stages of her life, Norma McCorvey (a.k.a Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade) was extorted by both pro-choice and pro-life institutions.

For some people, stepping out of recovery and into the church or pro-life community can feel like what Bilbo Baggins describes in The Hobbit as “escaping goblins only to be captured by wolves.”

Being passionate about being pro-life is great! Undoubtedly, having a story in your pocket that proves your arguing point is tempting to use. However, attached to that story is a human being. They also have inherent value and deserve to be treated just as humanely as preborn babies.

Examples of Hypocrisy #1

  1. A post uses a picture of a unique person (usually someone with a visible disability) for arguing points rather than celebrating or defending that person’s life and voice.
  2. A heated Facebook post turns the shortcomings of public figures who have mental health issues or previous abortions into a public example.
  3. The sadness of a woman with an abortion in her past is met with, “Well, that’s what you get…”

See Life 2021, Episode 1 | A roundtable of everyday heroes covers the basic facts of life and being pro-life.

How To Respond

We can catch moments where we fall short of valuing all life by asking ourselves these questions:

  • Am I treating the person as if they are the injustice?
  • By sharing this, will the person involved be ridiculed, hurt or attacked?
  • Do I care more about the social rewards I receive for sharing this (likes, comments, shares, verbal affirmations) more than I care for the person the information is about?

If we answer “yes,” to any of these questions, then there’s a chance we might be on the verge of committing pro-life hypocrisy. 

Chapter Two

Pro-Life Hypocrisy #2: Pro-Birth and Anti-Woman

“Where there’s life there’s hope.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

It was Mother Teresa, a renowned pro-life advocate, who said, “Abortion is profoundly anti-women. Three-quarters of its victims are women: half the babies and all the mothers.”

Mother Teresa was right. All the same, being pro-birth is also anti-women, and can be severely detrimental to birth moms, women facing an abortion decision and their preborn children.


Leah Outten, who chose to place her child in an open adoption at age sixteen, recalls the fears and pains associated with her choice. “The birth mothers I know died to themselves the day they signed their rights away. … They surrendered their desires to do what they felt was best for their child. Adoption rips a hole in our hearts that we live with every day.”

The courageous birth mother is just as valuable, worthy and important as her preborn child. If we don’t advocate for her just as passionately as we advocate for her preborn child, then we’re either pro-adoption or pro-birth. Neither, on its own, serves the woman with the unexpected pregnancy.

Being pro-birth can manifest in other ways as well. Most of us would firmly oppose the selective abortion of babies with Down syndrome. But do we celebrate those with Down syndrome beyond the womb and the adorable baby stages? Do we treat them as equals, advocating for them in school and the workplace?

Examples of Being Pro-Birth

  1. A pro-life church holds a pro-life fundraiser but removes the wheelchair ramp to make room for more parking spaces.
  2. Church members pressure a pregnant teen to choose adoption but offer no post-adoption support to her after her decision.
  3. A church offers no practical support to a family who adopts a child with special needs, dismissing the family as having a “special calling.”  

See Life 2021, Episode 2 | A roundtable of pro-life experts discuss the power of being authentically, pro-life. 


Few people in the pro-life moment would say, “I’m anti-woman.” Nevertheless, there are plenty of pro-lifers who don’t realize their words and actions are exceedingly anti-woman. This form of pro-life hypocrisy usually comes in the form of pregnancy shaming.

Things like sex, femininity and pregnancy should be celebrated! Sex is best inside the covenant of marriage. Even so, the process and product that follows — both new life and motherhood — is something miraculous and worth treating with respect and reverence. It is also important to remember that, often, we don’t know the full conditions of an unexpected pregnancy.

Examples of Being Anti-Woman

  1. When a young girl confesses she’s been sexually assaulted, those she confide in ask, “What did you do (to deserve it)?”
  2. A protestor responds to unexpected pregnancy by blaming the woman’s life choices.
  3. Teachers and coaches instruct women students that early pregnancy may cost them their scholarship.

Amy Ford of Embrace Grace discusses the importance of being pro-whole life when discussing issues like abortion.

How To Respond

The simplest way to identify this pro-life hypocrisy is to ask ourselves these three questions:

  • Is this loving?
  • Do my actions help build a world where those I defend can thrive?
  • Do my actions toward this person reflect the heart that God has for that person? (Romans 5:7-8)

When our words and actions toward those in need are loving, we create an environment for the weary to find hope and rest (Matthew 11:28-29).

"Pregnancy itself is not a sin."

Chapter Three

Pro-Life Hypocrisy #3: Dehumanizing Language

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

A Pro-Life Hypocrisy Given Time

What if a stranger had the power to define your worth simply by their choice of words? This ability might seem like dark sorcery, conjured up by the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien, but this is a superpower we all carry (Proverbs 18:21). Given time, the use of improper language can reinforce the ideas that some lives are less human or of less value than others. Usually, these phrases displace the humanity of a person and replace it with condition-first or condemning language.

Examples of Hypocrisy #3

  1. A person is identified by a disability or circumstance (e.g. “her rape baby,”  “that Downs guy”).
  2. A church-goer refers to a woman who has had an abortion as a murderer.
  3. All kids in foster care are referred to as, “orphans” or are labeled “foster kids” rather than just, “kids.”

See Life 2021 guests with unique conditions and circumstances discuss human value.

How To Respond

To beat this pro-life hypocrisy, choose to speak words that celebrate the life of the person, rather than focusing on their circumstance or condition:

  • Do I respond negatively to unexpected pregnancy (saying I’m sorry, rather than congratulations)?
  • When discussing pro-life issues, do I call women murderers?
  • Do I identify people by their condition rather than their name?

The Office of Disability Rights has a helpful list of affirmative language. However, this list may not be correct for some communities (such as the Deaf and Autistic communities who prefer otherwise). If possible, it’s best to get to know each person or community and then be considerate of their individual preferences.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Chapter Four

Pro-life Hypocrisy #4: Inhumane Treatment of Deceased Children

“Farewell! O Gandalf! May you ever appear where you are most needed and least expected!” 

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

Intention Matters

A few years ago, a popular YouTuber committed the unthinkable. He and his group of friends visited Aokigahara, Japan’s famous “suicide forest.” This dense forest received its name for its dark history. To date, the forest has been the location of hundreds of suicides. Because of the frequent tendency for bodies to be discovered throughout the forest, signs line all the walkways warning visitors not to stray from the main path.

The YouTuber and his friends trekked far from the designated path. Not only did the YouTuber encounter a man who had been hanged, but he also filmed the scene and uploaded it to his channel. The video went viral, racking up millions of views, likes, dislikes and comments. Naturally, many viewers were disgusted and outraged. Eventually, YouTube pulled the video from their platform, apologizing to their viewers.

Dignity After Death

Why was everyone so upset? After all, the video contained the YouTuber talking about the tragedy of suicide. He also said he felt terrible for the victim and his family. Wasn’t that enough?

We treat the bodies of the deceased with reverence for several reasons. Firstly, we recognize their body as having been a vessel for something sacred — their life.

Secondly, we realize that their life, like all lives, carried weight and impact. Out of consideration for those who care about the deceased, we treat the body with dignity, even long after their death.

Pam Vredevelt describes the incredible pain & grief she and her husband experienced in losing two children.

The Hypocrisy In Practice

Plenty of pro-lifers are disgusted at undercover videos of Planned Parenthood reps brokering aborted baby parts. However, less prominent is the outrage towards fellow pro-lifers who use graphic images of aborted babies as a platform to push anti-abortion messages.

If we believe the preborn are valuable human beings, why do we parade their remains publicly? 

“But the world needs to know the truth about abortion!” one might say. True. The world should know the tragedy of abortion just as much as they do the tragedy of suicide. However, treating the deceased inhumanely is a dangerous way to go about it. 

Brutally honest photos, in the right context, can be beneficial to defending life and seeking justice. For example, in 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American, was murdered for interacting with a white woman. It is said that the gruesome photos of his open-casket funeral helped inspire Rosa Parks to take her stand on the Montgomery city bus.

No doubt, had pictures of fetal remains been present at the time of Roe v Wade, the case might have been ruled differently. However, there is a fine and precarious line between using the two-edged sword of truth as a scalpel or a cleaver.

Consider the Whole-Life Impact

According to Guttmacher Institute, nearly one in four women will have had an abortion by the time she is forty-five years old. At large pro-life events, such as the March for Life in Washington D.C., attendance can reach around half a million people, most of them women. 

While covering the event, our pro-life team counted several 6ft images of decapitated and dismembered preborn children. Smaller signs of the same photos were even more plentiful.

The beginning of being authentically pro-life is practicing genuine whole-life values. This means women, both those who chose life and those who don’t, must matter just as much as their children.

A marcher at the March for Life 2021 holds a sign that says, “I regret my abortion.”

How To Respond

When faced with the decision of whether or not to share sensitive material, we can be more confident that we are avoiding pro-life hypocrisy if we can answer “yes” to these three questions:

  • Have I accounted for how this material will impact those recovering from an abortion decision?
  • Have I prepared a pro-love response to those who are triggered by this material?
  • Do I share this truth in hope that it brings healing and freedom (John 8:32)?

Ultimately, since we’re pro-life for the whole life, we should never forget that many pro-choicers are pro-choice because an abortion decision has impacted them or someone they know. It was a former director of Planned Parenthood, turned passionate pro-life advocate, who said it best:

"Those who speak out against life are people who are hurting. We pray for them to find truth, because we want them to know peace." 

Chapter Five

Pro-Life Hypocrisy #5: Pro-Christian, Anti-Jesus

“‘You have nice manners for a thief and a liar,’ said the dragon.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again

Pro-Christian, Anti-Jesus

We’ve finally reached the lair of Smaug the dragon. Now, it’s time to discuss the worst pro-life hypocrisy of all.

Imagine if Jesus walked up to the woman at the well and said, “Honey, you’re forgiven, but you better skedaddle before the disciples get here. Wouldn’t want your behavior ‘rubbing off’ on them.”

It’s unthinkable, isn’t it? Our compassionate savior, dismissing someone for their past behavior. Our thoughts on interacting with others should be the same. Revoking hope, forgiveness and love from someone because of their past choices should be unthinkable!

But I’ve never done that. We may think, at first. Hopefully we’re right, but then again, we’re human. A reliable sign, foretelling the coming of this pro-life hypocrisy is this sneakily prideful thought:

“If I respond lovingly, it’ll reinforce sinful behavior.”

The See Life 2021 roundtable discusses how families can get involved in helping save lives.

Graciously and lovingly meeting the needs of others doesn’t reinforce “sinful” behavior. On the contrary, it introduces Jesus to those who may not know him, but need him most.

Examples of Hypocrisy #3

  1. Parents forbid their kids from hanging around their pregnant friend for fear her behavior might, “rub off” on them.
  2. A youth group claims to be pro-life, but no one wants to hang around “the pregnant girl.”
  3. Anti-abortion sermons are delivered with dehumanizing language and without consideration that 1 out of 4 women in the church have had an abortion.

How To Respond

This hypocrisy is best avoided by our being able to answer “yes” to these brave questions:

  • Do my actions line up with my words?
  • Am I exhibiting the amount of grace I would want extended to me in that same situation?
  • Am I demonstrating the heart of Christ as outlined by the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:10-12?

There’s a reason why pro-lifers who work in the trenches refer to the pro-life movement as being #prolove. When we hear of an unexpected pregnancy, we should let our words and actions reflect the mission of Jesus as summarized in Mark 10:45

Abby Johnson lays roses on supreme court steps in honor of the those lost to aboriton.

Abby Johnson places a rose at the March for Life, in remembrance of those impacted by abortion.

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

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