Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Are pro-lifers all about control?

Protecting human life is the goal, the law is a necessary means

Pro-life activists participate in the 2020 March for Life near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Associated Press/Photo by Susan Walsh

Are pro-lifers all about control?
You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining. You've read all of your free articles.

Full access isn’t far.

We can’t release more of our sound journalism without a subscription, but we can make it easy for you to come aboard.

Get started for as low as $3.99 per month.

Current WORLD subscribers can log in to access content. Just go to "SIGN IN" at the top right.


Already a member? Sign in.

Pro-abortion advocates assert that the pro-life worldview is simply motivated by a desire to control women’s bodies.

When the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade this past June, a common refrain from pro-abortion voices was easy to anticipate: “How dare these people tell us what women can and cannot do with their bodies!” In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, the ACLU wrote, “Today’s decision revokes the federal constitutional right to abortion, and with it our agency over our lives and futures.” The article continues: “This is an outrageous attack on women’s rights and the bodily autonomy of everyone who can become pregnant, and the effects will be immediate and far reaching.”

Never mind the ridiculous reference to “everyone who can become pregnant,” as if the category is larger than “women.” What’s important to see is the concern over control. This decision of the Supreme Court is “an outrageous attack on…bodily autonomy.” Thus, the ACLU is intent on advocating “for a world where we have the freedom to control our bodies and futures.”

The idea that ambtion to control women drives the pro-life movement is laughable. If we are going to make any headway in understanding each other and moving the needle forward in dialogue with those who think differently, we need to respond to the actual positions and arguments of the other side—and that goes for both sides.

It does not seem to me, however, that the pro-choice side is interested in actually understanding the rationale for the pro-life movement. Instead, the same talking points are repeated, and the worst possible motives are ascribed to those who seek to protect the lives of the most vulnerable.

If the vast majority of pro-lifers are not interested in merely controlling female bodies and oppressing women, why do they (we) adamantly oppose abortion? Why organize so strategically? Why give money to support pro-life pregnancy centers? Why fly to Washington, D.C., and march for life? Why do these things if it is not about controlling women?

Because pro-life advocates are committed to protecting the innocent life growing within a woman’s body. It is simply not the case that pro-life advocates and activists are merely concerned with the control of women.

Pro-life advocates are compelled to speak for the least of these. They raise their voices and spend their money and exert their energy to protect life, not oppressively control women.

From a Christian worldview, life begins at conception. From the moment the egg is fertilized, life is present. Not potential life, but real life. Left undisturbed, that baby will continue to develop, grow, and come into this world as a divinely designed image-bearer. This baby, from day one, is created to reflect the God of the universe. Yet, that tiny human being cannot speak, advocate, or plead for his own life while carried around in his mother’s womb. Therefore, pro-life advocates are compelled to speak for the least of these. They raise their voices and spend their money and exert their energy to protect life, not oppressively control women. The passion of the pro-lifer is about defending the body and life of the unborn infant, not exerting control over women. Modern feminism’s pitting of the child’s right to live against their mother’s body is a construct that must be seen for what it is.

Of course, this includes telling people what they can and cannot do, which is what the law commonly does. To say there is no concern for control over one’s body, in any form, is simplistic. No one really believes that. Societies regularly tell people what they can and cannot do. It’s part of creating a healthy society. For instance, you must wear a seatbelt while driving down the road, and it is unlawful to use various drugs. These are laws that exert some degree of control over us. But the motive of such laws is not oppression. Instead, the motive is ordering society in ways we all flourish.

In the same way, telling a woman that she cannot have a doctor administer a lethal injection that would kill a baby, take a pill that would abort a child, or have forceps inserted to rip a baby apart, is not aiming to oppress women but to save babies from being murdered.

For those who are pro-choice, my plea is that you will deal with the actual arguments and positions of pro-life people. The vast majority are not interested in oppressing women but are particularly concerned with protecting the lives of those who live and move and have their being by the grace of God within the body of their earthly mother.

Jonathon Woodyard

Jonathon Woodyard is the dean of admissions and assistant professor of theology and history at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis. He is married to Gina and they have two boys, Calvin and Caleb. He is the co-author of Before We Forget: Reflections from New and Seasoned Pastors on Enduring Ministry.

Read the Latest from WORLD Opinions

Michael Farris | Two cases highlight her commitment to religious liberty and parental rights

Hunter Baker | With George Santos expelled from the House, why hasn’t the Senate removed Bob Menendez?

Daniel Strand | Moral limits should place sharp boundaries on political coalitions

Ray Hacke | Humbled in defeat, Deion Sanders could be headed for bigger things


Please wait while we load the latest comments...