An influential Christian writer has urged pro-life Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton, backing the Democrat party line that her policies on poverty, healthcare and childcare will help reduce abortion rates more than pro-life legislators.
Rachel Held Evans posted a blog backing Clinton on Tuesday. She wrote:
"While I've written in the past about feeling caught between the pro-life and pro-choice camps, I've never used my platform to endorse a presidential candidate. But as so many others have said, this year is different. Knowing many of my pro-life friends feel torn between voting for an unpopular but highly qualified pro-choice candidate in Hillary Clinton and an incompetent narcissist who poses a unique threat to our American democracy in Donald Trump, I'd like to make a proposal: You should vote for Hillary Clinton."
The writer went on to urge evangelicals - who according to a recent Pew survey favour Donald Trump - not to vote for the "racist demagogue". She wrote: "Evangelicals, I implore you: Don't support Donald Trump. Don't support a racist demagogue who can't even quote a single Bible verse properly and who takes to Twitter to viciously insult everyone he disagrees with. He's playing you."
Evans said: "I speak as someone who has struggled with, and in some cases regretted, her decisions at the ballot box, and who recognizes no single political party boasts a consistent pro-life ethic, just as no single political party embodies the teachings of Jesus or the values of his Kingdom."
But she went on: "In the eight years since we've had a pro-choice president, the abortion rate in the US has dropped to its lowest since 1973. I believe the best way to keep this trend going is not to simply make it harder for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies but to create a culture with fewer unwanted pregnancies to begin with... So even though I think abortion is morally wrong in most cases, and support more legal restrictions around it, I often vote for pro-choice candidates when I think their policies will do the most to address the health and economic concerns that drive women to get abortions in the first place."
Pro-life critics have pointed out that Clinton has liberalised the Democratic platform on the issue of abortion. When Hillary's husband Bill Clinton ran for president in 1996, abortion was mentioned once in the Democratic platform. Now it is mentioned 19 times and the traditional use of the word "rare" in relation to abortion has been dropped. Crucially, the platform calls for a wide expansion of abortion access, including the overturning of two key amendments in US law: the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal money from directly funding abortions, and the Helms Amendment, which bans federal dollars from funding abortions abroad.
However, the Hillary Clinton campaign argues, as Evans did, that its wider social platform will improve life-chances and lower poverty and therefore reduce abortion levels.