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A left-wing case for life

BOOKS | Benjamin Watson offers a rallying cry against abortion


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A left-wing case for life
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WHAT IS THE BEST pro-life argument on the political left today? One answer might be The New Fight for Life: Roe, Race, and a Pro-Life Commitment to Justice (Tyndale Momentum 2023) by former NFL player Benjamin Watson (with Carol Traver). The book offers a rallying cry for Christians to fight abortion based on a foundation of Biblical values and a (mostly) progressive interpretation of politics and race.

In his first chapter, Watson explains that his commitment to the pro-life cause is rooted in his Christian faith—including verses of Psalm 139, which he “knows like the back of [his] hand”: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” He also points to seeing an ultrasound of his own child for the first time. Seeing her face and her “legs kicking, her tiny fists clenching” was “exhilarating” and “terrifying.” In short, “There was no question about it: This was no collection of cells or a hazy shadow fluttering on a screen. This was a real live human being. This was our daughter.”

Watson also says abortion is an issue of “racial justice” because of abortion’s disproportionate impact on the black community. He cites an eye-opening 2020 study that “Black women are four times more likely to have abortions than white women” and that 40 percent of women seeking abortions are black. Thus, Watson rightly concludes that pro-life Christians will need to focus many of their efforts within the black community.

What should be done to help? Some of Watson’s suggestions will resonate with conservative evangelicals—but some clearly won’t. On the positive side, he urges Christians to do more to support pregnancy resource centers. He also calls readers to use their “God-given talents” in creative ways, like helping “an expectant mother purchase the diapers, formula, clothing, and other supplies she needs” or “providing a ride to work, doctor’s visits, or the grocery store.”

On the other hand, Watson’s more politically liberal proposals include a “guaranteed living wage” and government funding of pregnancy resource centers. Throughout the book, he echoes CRT-influenced beliefs that systemic racism is the primary cause of today’s “wealth gap” and other disparities between whites and blacks. But the evidence for this belief is scant.

Conservatives aren’t likely to be swayed by Watson’s view of racial justice. (Those who feel tempted might read Critical Dilemma by Shenvi and Sawyer.) But we can eagerly join Watson where he gets things right—including his call to Christians to pray more, to take Scripture seriously, to empathize and refrain from judging others harshly, and to serve sacrificially across racial and political lines.

Will Watson’s message revive a pro-life movement on the left? Christians of any political stripe can hope so. After all, as Watson writes, “Roe is done. And for that we rejoice. But the new fight for life is just getting started.”


Emily Whitten

Emily is a book critic and writer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and University of Mississippi graduate, previously worked at Peachtree Publishers, and developed a mother’s heart for good stories over a decade of homeschooling. Emily resides with her family in Nashville, Tenn.

@emilyawhitten

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