I would expect US pro-life groups to simultaneously support Trump (as they're typically right-leaning), yet simultaneously strongly against his death-permissive approach to bolster the economy during the COVID-19 crisis.

US President Donald Trump, via Twitter

Given that "the problem" includes large numbers of deaths, the US President is currently making a trade-off of human lives for the economy. This seems to give rise to a conundrum for US pro-life groups.

Question: How have US pro-life groups responded to Trump's stance during the COVID-19 crisis, given that this stance could permit more deaths?

A National Review article seems to indicate pro-life groups are reconciling the deaths by arguing that a poor economy will also lead to deaths, but even Republican politicians are arguing that large numbers of dead people will hurt the economy:

There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus.
Rep. Liz Cheney, via Twitter

So it's unclear to me how US pro-life groups can reconcile this.

  • 16
    I've downvoted this question for the premise of "Letting People die for the economy." There are indicators that maintaining the shutdown includes risk of lives being lost. Leadership is understanding how to balance to bad outcomes and find the statistical middle. Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 6:04
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    FYI: FluidCode has now posted a separate question challenging your premises, along the lines of what @Drunk Cynic said. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/52275/… Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 16:49
  • 4
    @DrunkCynic and a large part of politics is perception. This question asks how a significant group of voters perceive the trade-off that's discussed by the country's leader. It's not a hypothetical, the US is the country with the most infections and it's not even close to it's peak. The term death-permissive may be a bit sensational, but eventually that's part of the trade-off everywhere (not just in the US).
    – JJJ
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 17:03
  • Short answer: probably the usual way any passionate group faced with a contradiction does, via unrelenting special pleading,
    – agc
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 19:32
  • Related CNN News video: Blackwell presses pastor: How can you be pro-life and keep your church open?: How is this a pro-life stance to put people in jeopardy of contracting a disease (getting a virus) ... [that] has killed more than 84,000 people?. The pastor didn't respond by saying "pro-life" only means "anti-abortion". Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 1:20

1 Answer 1


There's nothing to reconcile. Pro-life doesn't mean 'against (needless) death', it means anti-abortion. [The same is true for the opposite label: Pro-choice means in favor of legal access to abortion, not necessarily in favor of all individual choices (eg regarding assisted suicide or drug policies).]

People supporting "Pro-life" can still support the death penalty, wars, restricted access to healthcare (for the poor), terrorist attacks against abortion providers, denial of healthcare to pregnant women even in case of a non-viable fetus, etc.

Response to the lax attitude regarding human life has been minimal, as that is not their issue; abortions are. The focus during this crisis by anti-abortion groups seems to be to further attack legal access to abortion. The SBA List coronavirus page or the Live Action news page eg focus on denying access to abortion & defunding abortion providers during the crisis.

The few responses I was able to find are not from groups, but individuals, and seem to argue in the same direction as you mention: Relativizing the deaths by downplaying the risk & impact and saying that a weak economy will also have a price. Eg:

economic hardship without a clear path to recovery imperils lives too (as evidence by a 300% spike in calls to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline); [...] targeted isolation of and care for the elderly is entirely possible while allowing the younger and healthier to go about their lives.

Others take a more utilitarian approach, weighing the "lives saved" due to denied access to abortion during the crisis vs deaths from coronavirus.

At least some individual people who hold anti-abortion views have opposed the economy > life view. The following quote is attributed to Rep. Cheney, though I was only able to find it by Erick Erickson:

Letting the virus spread to your parents and grandparents to protect your 401k is not pro-life.

Russell Moore argues along the same lines in a NYT opinion piece, though without explicitly mentioning abortion or "pro-life".

  • 16
    "their goal is primarily to control if and how people have sex" No. Their goal is primarily to control abortions. Politics.SE is not your personal soapbox.
    – user76284
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 5:12
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    Does kinda show why "pro-life" as a moniker is not just misleading but hypocritically so Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 14:44
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    It's not misleading, let alone hypocritically so. Everyone knows what they stand for: They oppose abortion as a means of birth control, and the name comes from the reason for their position.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 14:49
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    @EvilSnack but that's exactly the misleading/hypocracy part. If they were generally pro-life and that would strongly drive their decision making such that it would be the primary driver of their abortion stance, it would manifest in other decisions. Therefore, if it does not, this cannot be the general underlying driving factor in the way one would normally interpret it (misleading). Or they ignore it in other cases selectively or just claim it as a reason without understanding their own decision making process or in full knowledge of it (hypocritical). Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 23:11
  • 8
    The situation you describe does not meet the definition of hypocrisy.Hypocrisy involves a pretense. Pro-life people are not pretending to care about the life of the unborn child; it really is their motivation. It is not even a case of inconsistency: There is nothing about opposing the deliberate killing of an innocent child, merely because the mother does not wish to continue the pregnancy, that entails any position on any other topic.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 3:37

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