If you’ve spent much time listening to an abortion supporter argue about pro-life advocates, you’ve most likely heard—or almost certainly will very soon—the argument: “Pro-lifers are only pro-birth. They don’t care about people who are already born.”
When you inquire as to why we “don’t care about people who are already born” the most common answer is, “You oppose welfare and free healthcare that would help prevent abortions.”
The same argument is often applied against Conservatives and Libertarians when they oppose other forms of government welfare.
“You hate poor people because you oppose expanding welfare.”
“You hate poor people because you oppose wealth redistribution.”
“You want people to die because you don’t want affordable healthcare.”
And other similar, tired accusations.
Congratulations! You have just experienced the Black and White Fallacy!
Bad logic is bad
A fallacy is bad logic. It’s an argument that at face value might seem rational, but under closer scrutiny has some huge issues. The Black and White Fallacy (aka False Dichotomy, False Dilemma, and literally, like four or five other names) is bad logic.
The options may be a position that is between two extremes (such as when there are shades of grey) or may be completely different alternatives. Phrasing that implies two options (dilemma, dichotomy, black-and-white) may be replaced with other number-based nouns, such as a “false trilemma” if something is reduced to only three options.
If you’re still confused, you can also checkout this nifty video,
In a nutshell: Someone has reduced a complex situation to two extremes or unrelated options, but have phrased it in a way to make it seem as if there are only two options. Hence why it’s called “black and white.”
Opposing Welfare =/= Opposing Charity
In the case of our aforementioned claim—that we are only pro-birth because we oppose welfare expansion—things fall apart when you expand the options available.
Yes, as a Constitutionalist, I oppose welfare from the federal government. There is nowhere in the Constitution that delegates authority to the federal government to forcibly take money from one group of people and give it to another.
Charity is a voluntary act out of the goodness of a person’s heart. Giving someone no other option but to give the government money to redistribute money to other people is not charity. That’s theft.
But even more so than that, if the government could manage the money and effectively redistribute it to the most needy I could—maybe—get over the theft issue. Unfortunately, the government proves again and again and again that it wastes money like crazy.
Government bureaucracy is not an effective means to help people. As Richard Gelles, dean of the school of social policy and practice at the University of Pennsylvania explained,
Many government programs designed to address societal ills fall short of their goals in sector after sector…these programs are predestined to fail because they create self-serving and self-protecting bureaucracies that keep them in business.
Private Sector Superior
The private sector, that is the majority of charities in the United States, are more effective at providing help to those who need it. This isn’t surprising when you consider that many of these charities are working directly with the affected populations and interacting with them on a daily basis. They don’t just have their money invested, but are also invested in the success of their communities.
According to John R. Edwards in the Journal of Libertarian Studies,
…Income redistribution agencies are estimated to absorb about two-thirds of each dollar budgeted to them in overhead costs, and in some cases as much as three-quarters of each dollar… In contrast, administrative and other operating costs in private charities absorb, on average, only one-third or less of each dollar donated, leaving the other two-thirds (or more) to be delivered to recipients.
To put this into perspective, when you give the government $100 for charity, only $30 goes to helping the needy—the other $70 lines the pockets of the bureaucrats.
The inverse occurs with private charities. Give a charity $100 and $70 goes to help the needy. Even more surprising, if you give only $50 to private charity, $35 of makes it to the needy. Yes, you read that right. Give half as much to charity and MORE money still makes it to the needy than if that money had been managed by the government.
We oppose government welfare not because we hate people who are needy, but because we believe there are more effective ways to help the needy that rely on voluntary goodwill and not government bureaucracy.
Ignoring the Facts
The fact is, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, institutions by religious organizations and other non-profits all provide services for needy women, children and men.
The Catholic Church provides somewhere between 17% and 34% of all private sector social services in the United States. And, despite claims by some that religious institutions are a leech on society, a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have published a study that quantitatively measures how the vast services a typical inner city church in Philadelphia gives back to the community each year. The numbers are staggering:
The grand total for the 12 congregations: $50,577,098 in annual economic benefits.
Yes, you read that right. On average, that’s $4,214,758 per church given back to the community in services, charity and employment.
One particular church evaluated by the study works on an annual operating budget of only $265,000, yet the researchers calculated a total impact of over $1.47 million dollars in equivalent benefits to their community.
This is of course, just evaluating the effect of religious institutions and not all private sector charities. But we’ve already demonstrated that private charities are twice as effective with their money as government bureaucracy.
Nail in the coffin
What’s really frustrating about these numbers is what happens when you consider how much each taxpayer is paying into the government welfare state.
The average American household voluntarily donates $2,974 to charity each year.
In contrast, the average taxpayer has $6,000 to $8,700 forcibly taken each year just to pay for federal welfare programs. That comes to approximately $740 billion each year.
Remember that 70% figure we talked about earlier? That means only $220 billion actually helps anyone. In contrast, if that money had been given to private charities who, on average, deliver 70% of their funding to the poor, we get $518 billion helping people in need.
The claim that “pro-lifers are only pro-birth” is a boldfaced lie. Anyone who has objectively spent any time with the average pro-life advocate knows we have a passion for helping all people.
Yes, many of us oppose government welfare programs. Not because we hate the poor, but because we know that private charities are more effective and more efficient at helping the people who really need it. This includes the poor and single mothers exploited by the government-subsidized, billion dollar abortion industry that kills their child and lies to them saying, “There really was no other choice.”
Bad charities fail and close down. Unfortunately, the worst “charity” of all, the federal government, will— and has—continued to fund failed, bloated bureaucracies. This self-destructive system continues with the aid of uninformed Americans bullied into believing that opposing Washington is tantamount to “hating poor people.”
Who was it that said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed”? Oh yeah, Adolph Hitler. Pro-abortion advocates are in great company. /s