This Modern Age

On Abortion: Tony Campolo Is Misguided

with 14 comments

Tony used his latest blog entry at God’s Politics to try to redefine the abortion debate. 

Obviously, he claims to be a “pro-life Democrat.”  And he is willing to go so far as to say that abortions should be reduced.  But he doesn’t ever really state why this is a worthy goal. 

I would like to ask Tony, do you believe there is anything wrong with abortions?  Is there something that would, per se, make our civilization better by having a reduced number of abortions?  Just curious… Hopefully he answers those questions in the big stack of his books that I recently checked out of the library. 

If someone wanted to be really cynical they could say that it looks like Tony wants to reduce abortions for the sake of trying to lure traditionally Republican voting Christians away to the Democratic Party. 

If the Democrats are going to make any dent in the support that Evangelicals now provide for the Republicans, they had better address the abortion issue and do what is necessary to show that while their party might still remain pro-choice, it has become a party committed to making abortions rare.

If such a cynic was correct, that would reduce Tony Campolo – self proclaimed prophet – to being a political hack.  For Campolo, whose friends clamor for a “third way”, this would certainly impare his integrity as well as theirs.

Further, we can fairly ask if Campolo even wants to reduce abortions at all.  One of the more dishonest Leftist arguments is that they are really “pro-life” because they are more concerned about the life of the child after it is born.  This is not the post to unpack everything wrong with that, but I will offer a rhetorical shot that hopefully wounds the big, dumb beast. 

If I’m an unborn child (and we all were), I’m willing to take my chances without healthcare, and with poorly performing public schools and a broken federal welfare system, if you promise to keep the skin-eating acid off my flesh and the buzzsaw away from my skull – sound fair?  Give me a shot at life (which I would guess you value for yourself) and I will sort out the financial ups and downs from there. 

Why, if Tony really wants to use some enlightened third way to reduce abortions, does he only chastise pro-life Republicans?  He states, “It’s not enough to advocate the overturning of Roe v. Wade.  Pro-life Republicans must join pro-life Democrats and address economic problems that are driving hundreds of thousands of young women to think that abortion is their only option.”

Really Tony?  Shouldn’t you be telling your Democratic buddies (while you’re busy helping them scribe the party platform in Denver) to also be joining their Republican bretheren in overturning Roe v. Wade, or reducing federal funding for abortions?  Or, since, in his words, “hundreds of thousands of young women think that abortion is their only option”, he could use some of his teaching prowess to help them start “thinking” something different. 

PS – The Republicans did nothing to address abortion?  Tony, you dishonest fool!  What do John Roberts and Sam Alito (not to mention Justices Scalia and Thomas) mean to the United States Supreme Court?  And why did your party attempt to bend space and time to keep them off the Supreme Court?  In 1972, five Justices decided they would strip the abortion argument out of the democratic process and leave it solely to the judicial branch of government. 

Tony, you know well and good that no legislative vote or executive order was going to directly effect abortions.  Oh wait, I do seem to remember something

I’ll offer a prize (to be determined) to anyone that can find a quote of Tony Campolo’s on the threat of Justice Roberts or Alito overturning Roe v. Wade.  Any takers?

14 Responses

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  1. If you make the prize a Heineken mini keg I might think about your challenge but since you failed to name a prize your going to be on your own for the foreseeable future.

    Keegan Sparks

    July 11, 2008 at 6:37 pm

  2. “And he is willing to go so far as to say that abortions should be reduced. But he doesn’t ever really state why this is a worthy goal.”
    I haven’t read just a ton of Campolo, but i have heard/read him saying over and over and over again that he believes abortion is wrong because it is murdering an unborn child. I don’t think he is required to spell out the whole picture of his beliefs for each “God’s Politics” post, is he?- so I feel you may have erred on the side of slander here. But maybe that’s too harsh.

    Now I’m not certain about how comfortable I am with his methods to reduced said murder, but don’t you get that he’s simply saying there is an undeniable correlation between abortions and poverty rates? He’s not saying “solve poverty, and you’ll have ended abortion.” He’s just saying, “reduce the burden of poverty, and it is a statistical fact that you will save lives.” How can anyone argue that this is a bad thing?

    Furthermore, you refer to Campolo lobbing attacks that Republicans aren’t actually doing anything about abortion. This is a bit of hyperbole… Campolo doesn’t think Republicans have done NOTHING, but they certainly have not done as much as they’ve been voted in to do. Even today, many people will vote based on whether or not a candidate would vote to outlaw abortion, while missing that they aren’t actually going to end up ever casting such a vote, even though they will use it to win elections.

    If you’re interested, I can email you a podcast i heard where Campolo spells out his views on all this much better than in this shorter-than-average post you linked to.


    July 11, 2008 at 10:01 pm

  3. by the way- i’m with keegan on the whole Heineken mini keg deal. I mean, i’ll probably have to make something up since Campolo believes abortion is a grievous moral ill of our society… but i’d be willing to slander him for a mini keg.


    July 11, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    • How could Campolo ask for more than to reduce abortions? Unless you live in a completely unrealistic world, you can only hope to reduce them and keep reducing them. You will never completely eliminate them, we can’t even eliminate theft, but we all hope to reduce it. Some prolifers act as if “oh just get a tough law on the books and abortion is gone”, a well, that isn’t the real world, never has been. If you look at the reality, outlawing abortion probably would not reduce abortions at much if at all. If Roe was gone, most states would keep abortion legal and women would travel to a neighboring state where it was legal if her state banned it. Getting a law to ban abortion is cheap fairytale solution to a very difficult situation. Tony is right in that we need to offer long term systemic solutions for women in crisis pregnancy situation as well as to reduce the unintended pregnancies in the first place. The reason abortion should not totally banned is because you would be attempting to solve a moral tragedy by creating another moral tragedy. When you ban abortion you not only criminalize abortion but you effectively force women by law to remain pregnant and provide her uterus to sustain the life of the unborn. This is akin to slavery. I’m prolife and feel abortion is wrong, but I’m not pro slavery as a means to fighting abortion.


      July 21, 2014 at 6:28 pm

  4. If Campolo says that abortion is murder over and over again, he certainly failed to mention it once in his book “Red Letter Christians” which dedicates eight pages to abortion. in fact he always leaves it in a “some people believe” category. He fails to take a personal stand on it once. And a Google search of his personal website comes up empty on the subject as well.

    So, I’m not willing to back down on my point (someone is welcome show proof otherwise). For the time being, I’ll fully reject the charge of slander.

    And to Tad’s point, while there may be a correlation between poverty and abortion, there certainly is not any causality. The morality of murdering an unborn life doesn’t shift dependent an individual’s income bracket.

    And should we imagine that “lifting people out of poverty” would lower the abortion rate more than making the procedure illegal altogether?

    Sub-point: Campolo’s agenda doesn’t effectively speak to actually offering any real solutions around poverty either.

    Re-sub-point: Even if the abortion rate didn’t decrease dramatically (which it would) for it being illegal, should we still argue that the government should sanction the action by making it legal? And if we are concerned with “reducing the number” then it seems like Campolo and his ilk would be happy to compromise by creating “poverty reducing” policy that worked together with overturning Roe v. Wade and fighting for anti-abortion laws in the states. Then he might really have evangelical Christians on his side.

    And I do believe that pro-life Republicans have done everything they possibly can around the issue the abortion. When they hit the campaign trail you never hear a Repulbican talk about voting away abortion. It is alway put appropriately in the context of judges.


    July 22, 2008 at 2:34 pm

  5. but wilson, just cause he doesn’t spell out the sentence you wanna hear in the one piece of his that you’ve read- this doesn’t mean he believes the opposite of what he’s elsewhere claimed to believe (namely, in this case, that abortion is murder).

    And i just looked at his site, and he doesn’t have positions listed on any set of issues. So to say he condones abortion because he doesn’t list himself as being against it would be like me saying you support human sex trafficking because you don’t have anything on your site against it. Of course that’s ridiculous, because nobody should be expected to have their entire belief system on a web page (especially when they don’t claim to try).

    –“The morality of murdering an unborn life doesn’t shift dependent an individual’s income bracket.”
    I didn’t claim this at all. I just said it’s a statistical fact that if you financially help pregnant women in low-income brackets, you reduce the rate that they abort.

    I’ve heard campolo offer alternatives. Are you looking for these propositions of his? They are out there to be read. I don’t especially care what he thinks, but he’s definitely written a lot about it in the way of it being evil and how to start to solve it.

    RE: your Re-sub-point, i suspect making it illegal would reduce it some, but studies in countries where it’s legality is going back and forth seem to show that it doesn’t make an enormous difference. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s the latest so far as we can tell.

    Having said that, i side with saying abortion should be illegal, but i don’t think it’s going to be made so. Republicans do still talk abortion to get votes, though their constituents do more of the moral policing here, but if Republicans, once in control of the Congress and White House, didnt’ even try to change it, it’s hard to argue that it’s much more than a vote gaining ploy.


    July 22, 2008 at 7:52 pm

  6. Tad,

    Please understand in this, my issue is specifcally with Tony Campolo. And I have very serious issues with him as he claims to be a leader and prophet of the Church. I do not want to try to say that you are harboring his positions or arguing with you indirectly by pointing out all of Campolo’s flaws on this issue.

    It’s really not an issue of “the one piece” of Campolo’s I’ve read. I’ve read numerous blog posts and op-ed pieces of his in addition to ‘Red Letter Christians’ and ‘Speaking My Mind’. I’ve done numerous Google searches (of the entire Internet, not just on ‘Tony Campolo’, ‘Tony Campolo abortion’, ‘Tony Campolo abortion murder.’ Further, his mentor, Jim Wallis, seems to fall into the exact same category.

    If he believes that abortion is murder he does a stunning job of hiding it. My next step would be to go through all of his podcasts, but why should I expect his message to be any different?

    And please expect that if I ever address human sex trafficking in any regard (which to this point I haven’t), I will fully come down saying that it is absolutely wrong. I won’t walk a line of, “Well, some people say it’s good because it creates jobs and provides for carnal desires in the nature of man. You know, these men that traffic women for sex, if we just had an economy where they could do better they wouldn’t have to make these choices.” Such a position would be cowardly and disgusting, especially considering the victims of the crime.

    My point to the financial aide is that while in some theory it may be true (I don’t care – plenty of middle class and wealthy women have abortions as well). But that Campolo’s propositions for aleviating poverty (we also need to define poverty – I have blog posts on that) won’t do any good. So it comes across as Campolo wanting to use the issue of abortion to promote the Democratic platform (he’s actually helping pen the platform in Denver latter next month) on welfare and government spending – which won’t help aleviate poverty in the least.

    Of course naming abortion as illegal (which overturning Roe v. Wade wouldn’t do but it would be an important step, that’s for another post) won’t reduce it’s occurances. It would have to be illegal and have appropriate punishments for violations. If doctors could lose their license to practice medicine and the ability to gain insurance (or spend 25 years in jail) and there was punishment as well for the mothers that participated and anyone who funded it, the number of abortions would be reduced. If it’s illegal and the punishment is the equivalent of speeding ticket, I wouldn’t expect behavior to change.

    And to the Republican issue, sure the Republicans had the White House and Congress, but are you imaging they just pass a law? The issue of abortion has been stripped out of legislative process altogether. And I have never seen a Republican campaign otherwise. All that could be done is appointing justices to the Supreme Court and lower courts that understand the Constitutional bounds of government – they did that (as I pointed out earlier) with Justices Alito and Roberts. What do you imagine I am missing?


    July 23, 2008 at 10:34 am

  7. […] Despite Obama’s push for evangelical votes and the support he has gained evangelicals like Tony Campolo, he is polling in line with Sen. John Kerry and below Vice President Al Gore.  Any theories on […]

  8. It’s easy to state that poverty causes abortions–who has stats or where may I find them? From the amount of money made from abortions- I question whether the poor lead the parade in abortions. Seems to me its a matter of convenience or inconvenience where abortion is concerned. I could be wrong, but I would like to see some stats on just who is having abortions.


    August 7, 2008 at 12:57 am

  9. pecanpii-
    if you want to see stats for yourself, i’d suggest… i don’t know, maybe a little known search engine called “google” to get you started. On such a search engine, you can find information on whether having and raising a child for 18 year or having an abortion is more expensive. Combine this information with the suspicion i have that poor people have some common sense and don’t enjoy being even poorer, and get back to me with your findings.


    August 7, 2008 at 11:43 am

  10. Wilson-
    I totally forgot about this post until i was perusing through Barnes and Noble, saw a book by Campolo (“Letters to a Young Evangelical”), and remembered this post.

    So I picked up the book, looked at the index, found a section regarding abortion, and, all in about 2 minutes, managed to find a line where he explains that he is pro-life (p. 154). So there you have it- 2 minutes of scholarship turns up, in print, what i had already been saying all along about his pro-life stance.

    But then i figured i might as well find the book you refer to on here and see if i could find the same. So, I pick up RLC and find a statement about them being pro-life in only 1 minute this time (p. 120 and following), although he isn’t near as clear overall in RLC as he is in LtaYE, so i understand how you might have been confused.

    But there you have it- Campolo is apparently, by his own words, very much pro-life.

    tad DeLay

    August 30, 2008 at 7:31 pm

  11. Tad, I was really thinking you were going to bring me excerpts from these books making Tony’s point. Alas…

    I read every word of Red Letter Christians and I am not convinced in anyway that Tony Campolo is actually pro-life.

    Of course, he may call himself “pro-life”, but if he were to call himself a goose that would not make it so. I’ll look into Letters to a Young Evangelical.


    September 3, 2008 at 11:48 pm

  12. “I read every word of Red Letter Christians and I am not convinced in anyway that Tony Campolo is actually pro-life.”
    …. that’s exactly what i said here: “he isn’t near as clear overall in RLC as he is in LtaYE”

    But yes, check the abortion chapter in LtaYE for a clearer description.


    September 4, 2008 at 2:29 pm

  13. Get your free porn fix right here and stop paying for porn.

    Bobby Tyler

    September 25, 2011 at 2:44 am

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