Bryan is a pastor running for US Congress as a Democrat in historically conservative West Michigan. He received dozens of postcards from pro-life voters in his district, and took the time to write this personal letter as a response. In West Michigan, as elsewhere around the country, abortion is an important issue to voters in 2020. Bryan is working to expand understanding around this issue.
A few days ago, I received a postcard from you urging me to fill out the Candidate Survey from the National Pro-Life Alliance. The abortion issue is a very important one, and I understand your concern. I believe it is important for me to be responsive to the questions I have been getting on this as a candidate.
I value human life. At every level. The Scriptures are very clear that human life is sacred, and each person is created in the image of God.
“What are human beings that you are mindful of them?
Mortals, that you care for them?
Yet you have made us a little lower than God,
and crowned us with glory and honor.”
And because life is sacred, I believe we should create conditions for human flourishing across the board. I take very seriously the need to address gun violence, because life is sacred. To pursue peace rather than war, because life is sacred. To ensure every American has healthcare, because life is sacred. To care for the earth, because a healthy planet is necessary for the well-being of all people.
As someone who believes every life is sacred, I decided to examine more thoroughly how to protect unborn life. And as I looked at what was effective in nations around the world, I discovered something surprising: the nations with the lowest abortion rates in the world were the ones who took care of their citizens by providing affordable and accessible healthcare, making pre- and post-natal care available, having affordable childcare, investing in good education and having jobs that pay family-supporting wages. They also make birth control widely accessible. Even though abortion is legal in these countries, they regularly see a drop in the number of abortions that happen.
READ: Dialoguing Across Differences: Abortion & Big Tent Theology
Conversely, the nations with the highest abortion rates in the world are the ones who spend more energy on outlawing abortion than creating conditions for human flourishing. That’s when I began to understand that you can’t outlaw abortion, you have to outlove it.
As your representative I promise to work to reduce abortions, and you can count on me to support policies that move us toward that goal.
My focus is on promoting life-giving policies that work. And outlawing abortion just simply doesn’t work – women will still get abortions and they will be less safe, especially for women with limited means.
Let’s not forget that poor and low income women account for more than half of the abortions performed in our country. The Scriptures remind us again and again to care for the poor and the vulnerable. I want to heed that and make sure we’re listening to those who are most impacted – and that we put policies in place that actually support and work for those in need. Policies that support women and reduce abortions.
I oppose government overreach here, which is why I trust women to make the choice that is best for them in the circumstances in which they find themselves.
I want to call on everyone to go deeper into the realities that surround this issue. We need to be willing to acknowledge that this is a highly sensitive—and complex— issue, often fraught with pain and struggle. And please know that even if you disagree with me on this, I am here to listen to you.
Together we can move toward broad human flourishing that honors the sacredness of human life at every level. Thank you.
Rev. Bryan Berghoef