I recently wrote about how Christians should avoid cooperating with abortion.

There are many reasons that people decide to abort a pregnancy. But the purpose of the abortion itself is (almost always) to kill the fetus.

Pro-life people believe that a fetus is already a member of the human community, with inherent dignity. We cannot always keep a fetus from dying, and we cannot always save his or her life. But it is always wrong to intentionally kill him or her.

Of course, once you accept the premise that the unborn child is a person, it naturally follows that you see abortion as the world’s greatest injustice. And you don’t want to support it or cooperate with it in any way!

But, this can be more complicated than it sounds.

Let’s change the subject for a moment, to discuss human trafficking. If you study the extent of slave labour in global supply chains, you’ll see that there is no practical way right now to avoid ALL cooperation with human trafficking.

This could change! (See #stopmodernslavery to learn how.) But right now, the world we live in tolerates human trafficking as part of life.

The only viable option for pro-life people is to continue to change the culture, and then to work through the legal system when victory is possible.

Let’s go back to the question of cooperation. Right now, there is no way to avoid ALL cooperation with abortion. We are surrounded by governments, laws, corporations, systems, and societies that support abortion. (Perhaps you could live on an island by yourself, but I don’t recommend that.)

It’s a sad reality, but Christians can’t avoid cooperating with abortion. Here’s an example:

Christians pay taxes, but many governments give money that goes towards abortion (e.g. the IPPF affiliates in Hong Kong and in America receive roughly 1/3 of their funding from the government. These funds are fungible, which means the government is helping to pay for abortions.)

Sadly, this means that the Christian tax-payer is cooperating with abortion. The cooperation is small, remote, and indirect. But it’s also terrible, and typically inescapable.

Of course, the tax-payer is not morally responsible for the abortion. And, the Christian who stops paying taxes could not stop abortions this way. And any potential benefit of not paying taxes would be outweighed by the consequences.

So, what do we do?

It is my hope that Christians will do what they can do, in order to work for an end to abortion. And I pray that all Christians will choose not to directly or intentionally cooperate with abortion.

This is not an easy topic, but if you want to think about it more, see the chart below.

This flowchart is about how to discern questions on cooperating with evil. It’s from epicpew.com, and is written for Catholics. But I think it’s also useful for Protestants (e.g. you can start by asking: “Does the Bible forbid cooperating with this action?”), and also for anybody interested in these questions.

Final thoughts

The featured image for this post includes a quote from Gandhi: “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good”. We could discuss when it is reasonable to try to peacefully protest and break the law, like Gandhi did, when there is no other way to stop injustice.

But we do not live in Gandhi’s India. The legal system in most countries is not completely broken or corrupt, and it is possible to change the laws. Sadly, there are not enough people who care enough to change them.

Practically, the first priority of the pro-life movement is not to change the laws, but to work locally to end abortion and other attacks on human life. And in fact, this is what the majority of pro-life efforts and funding are invested in.

Finally, the phrase “change the culture” does not mean “hope things get better someday”. It means doing practical work–which might include persuading business owners not to cooperate with abortion. This happened recently with a California waste disposal company that was processing the remains of dead fetuses at 20 abortion centres. The CEO was persuaded to end his contracts with those centres. If local business leaders do not cooperate with abortion, then local doctors cannot do abortions.