With the deepening rift in the Utah Republican Party, more than one registered Republican has asked themselves — or been asked — why they stay. For many of the Republicans I’ve talked to, it boils down to one basic issue: abortion.

It will be an issue in Utah, for state races, for congressional races and for the Senate race. Utah legislators sometimes try to outdo themselves in passing pro-life legislation, sometimes legislation that looks beyond the mark and tries to solve problems that aren’t actually problems in our state. But the fact remains — Republicans, especially Republicans in Utah, are staunchly pro-life.

As frustrated as I sometimes get at the GOP resistance to documented proof of the gender wage gap, or the lack of female representation in the halls of power, the ultimate “war on women” is the one that kills them by the millions. A Lancet article published in 2016 puts the global abortion numbers at 56.3 million every year, an increase of 6 million per year compared with 1990-1994. Fifty-six million babies, or five times the total number of Holocaust victims, every single year. Tens of millions are aborted just because they are female.

I know that people on the left hate it when we on the right use the word “baby” when talking about an unborn child. I know that textbooks teach abortion providers to use euphemistic words like “products of conception” and to avoid humanizing a fetus at all costs. I think the more humanization the better.

Medical technology has shown us how early a heart beats (22 days post-conception), how early babies have fingerprints (8 weeks), and how early babies can suck their thumbs (10-12 weeks), react to sound (8 weeks) and register pain (12 weeks).

Addressing the problems of extreme poverty, sexual slavery, child brides, “honor” killings, racism and war does not begin with abortion. Violence begets violence. It is not the answer to the problem, it is the problem.

Strong families are the key to healing this world and no family, no community, no nation can be strong that kills its own babies. Mother Teresa said at the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast in 1994, “The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child. … Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.” When receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, she was asked: “How do we achieve peace on Earth?” Her answer was simple: “Go home and love your family.”

I am not naive enough to believe that every family is a strong family and I certainly know that “family” comes in many different, beautiful iterations. My own family is not only multicultural, but also brought together after the deep loss of the primary, biological family. I honor that and the many other ways a family gets made.

I know that many families struggle and need additional help. Being pro-life means we honor life out of the womb as well. We support families who are raising children with disabilities, we help families trapped in intergenerational poverty, we fund education because it’s key to upward mobility and we have a responsibility to speak up and to care for those who cannot care for themselves.

Mia Love recently spoke at both county and state conventions and brought up abortion as a key issue — because it is. It is not an issue that makes her “out of touch” or a “DC insider” — it’s a fundamental issue for many voters in Utah, including voters in the 4th Congressional District. Her most likely general election opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, had some Twitter bashing of the congresswoman, but when it comes down to it, he says he is “deeply religious” and “believes in the sanctity of life at all stages.”

Additionally, he told me, ”Abortion is too common in America. Reducing the number of abortions starts with access to education about reproductive health and contraception. I support the teachings of my LDS faith that oppose abortion except in cases of rape, incest, danger to the mother’s life and in certain other rare circumstances, after seeking spiritual guidance through prayer and from trusted counsel. Other religions have other teachings on this subject. Ultimately, decisions about terminating a pregnancy should made by a woman in consultation with her physician, family members and faith counselors she trusts.”

There are solutions out there for the big problems in this world. Abortion is not one of them. We can and we must work on solutions that don’t include the taking of a life.

(Photo Courtesy Holly Richardson)

Holly Richardson, a Salt Lake Tribune columnist, is ardently pro-life. She has fostered more than a dozen children, adopted 20 and continues to try to care for those who need care in this world.