Last week, the Trump administration took an unprecedented step to defend unborn life in the international arena. Along with co-sponsors from every region of the world, the United States spearheaded an effort to enact the Geneva Consensus Declaration, which vows to protect countries from outside pressure to allow abortions. The United States and Europe have some of the most radically pro-abortion laws in the world. This is a grave injustice in itself. But what most people don’t realize is that some pro-abortion countries and international aid organizations have used their wealth to hold smaller countries hostage. They can threaten to hold back their aid unless abortions are permitted. Not only do we have pro-abortion laws at home, but our government has in the past actively sought to export abortion overseas. This is a way of weaponizing our nation’s benevolence in order to advance an anti-life agenda. The Obama Administration pursued these tactics under the guise of working for international “women’s health.”
Abortion is sometimes seen as a non-issue by voters who are discouraged by how entrenched Roe v. Wade seems to be. This precedent has lasted almost a half century now, so we may wrongly think that there are no decisions about abortion that are being made right now. But we shouldn’t forget the real difference that it makes whether our elected officials are for or against abortion. The federal bureaucracy has immense influence at home and abroad. For instance, the Health and Human Services department was the source of the mandate which required US employers to provide insurance coverage for abortifacients, prompting major court fights by Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor. The Secretary of State helps direct US taxpayers’ dollars to fund international relief efforts and nongovernmental organizations, deciding what strings to attach to these funds. What our government believes about abortion matters immensely. Even if they can’t overturn Supreme Court precedent or make new laws, the regulations and international agreements the administration makes can either protect unborn life or promote its destruction.
The Geneva Consensus Declaration is a lot more than just an “anti-abortion declaration,” as many news outlets like the Guardian and Forbes called it. Just go read it for yourself. The Declaration lays out a vision for full human flourishing that aligns with what biblically minded Christians have always cared about. The Declaration is pro-family. It affirms “the role of the family as foundational to society and as a source of health, support, and care.” The Declaration is pro-women, both in the womb and out of it. It seeks to ensure “full enjoyment of all human rights and equal opportunity for women” as well as “the highest attainable standard of health” for women. It commits to pursuing these lofty goals, but “without including abortion.” Only the most radical progressives believe that abortion somehow constitutes an international human right that must be guaranteed here, there, and everywhere.
Representatives from a diverse collection of 32 nations all could see a basic moral truth—abortion is an atrocity, not a right. All 32 nations who signed the Declaration agreed, at least in principle, with some of the most basic truths about creation that God pronounced from the very beginning. In the first chapter of the Bible, right after God creates man and woman in his image, the passage says: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…’” (Genesis 1:28). The complementarity between the sexes and the command to have children were God’s blessing upon Adam and Eve, and the whole human race. God’s joyful command was to be fulfilled through love in marriage, which forms new families (Genesis 2:24).
This creation mandate has never been set aside by God. It has, however, been complicated by sin. What was supposed to be a joyous process of welcoming children into the world has become a process full of pain (Genesis 3:16). The biblical story tells us why the family is good and why the family is imperiled in our world today. God’s intended design for our happiness is constantly tainted by the effects of sin.
That’s why we need governments and laws to step in and protect the right functioning of the family in the ways that they can. The government can’t (and shouldn’t) be our family. But the government can promote healthy families by setting the conditions for them to thrive. This involves statements like the Geneva Consensus Declaration. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the signing of the Declaration, “As we sign this very explicit declaration today, may its moral clarity embolden others to admire our stand and, indeed, to join our cause.” That’s something the government can do. Let’s hope it bears fruit throughout the world and in our own nation.