What it Really Means to be Pro-Life (In My Opinion)
Warning: this is my opinion.
I classify myself as pro-life, which is not to dissuade any pro-choice students reading this article; you (hopefully) have good reasons for your views just as I do mine. I will be criticizing pro-lifers in this column, so, before my pro-choice readers move on, you may want to keep reading. I hear the term “pro-life” thrown around often in religious/political discussions, but I wonder if anyone ever pauses to consider the sweeping implications of that term.
No, I do not mean the overturning of Roe v. Wade or the burning of abortion clinics, etc. I mean the philosophy pro-lifers use and why it seems, to me, to be applied so narrowly.
What does it really mean to be pro-life? If your answer is anti-abortion, I think you are sadly mistaken. See, the anti-abortion populace, as I know them, are very passionate about the value of a human life (let me be clear that I have no intention of discussing the humanity of fetuses here). “Human life is intrinsically valuable,” they say. “Killing a human being is wrong.”
To those people I propose this question: Why are you confining the argument to the unborn? Why have I had discussions with those who express pro-life sentiments, but will simultaneously endorse, with gusto, the death penalty and violent war?
“They are different,” you may say, but I am not so sure. In war, people that most would consider “innocent” are caught in the crosshairs of ideological and geopolitical assaults that we, as Christians, seem all too quick to endorse; “we’re killing terrorists,” after all.
Not too be terribly crude, but if the victims of war in the Middle East were replaced by American unborn babies, would the anti-abortion crowd approve of war so quickly? I think they would not.
The difficulty here is that pro-life proponents—though their views are more accurately labeled anti-abortion in my opinion—overlook the value of all human life in the midst of their well-intentioned passion for some human life (let me emphasize that it is well-intentioned).
The fact of the matter is, however, that all life—the criminal on death row, the refugee family that make us feel “threatened,” the soldiers and civilians on the other side of a conflict, and, dare I say, terrorists––is precious and intrinsically valuable. So, as far as that argument goes, I happen to agree.
If someone wants to promulgate an anti-abortion rhetoric as a means of defending the unborn, so be it. If various organizations, ministries and individuals need to focus their efforts on abortion alone in order to be effective, so be it.
However, those same organizations, ministries and individuals must be cautious lest they undermine the pro-life message with the inconsistency that I point out now. Unfortunately, I fear this is already happening on a massive scale.
What can be done?
Perhaps it starts by simply recognizing the narrowness of the current pro-life/anti-abortion position. Perhaps this column will be helpful in catalyzing that process. Another starting place would be proclaiming the humanity of all people—not just the unborn—to friends, neighbors, professors, peers, etc.
The Middle Eastern refugee and the death row convict are so stigmatized that it may be difficult for some to consider them entirely human. To many, they are too “other” to be a human being like the rest of us. At the very least, they do not feel as close to us as an unborn baby in a YouTube video who, for all we can tell, could have been our daughter, son, sister or brother.
Overcoming the inconsistency of the current pro-life platform can only occur when we are willing to recognize the humanity of those who are drastically different than we are. Those who may be deemed dangerous, evil or foreign by the culture around us.
This sounds very Christ-like to me. Just saying.
In addition, this can only occur when there is a willingness to be educated about these people. To get to know them, to love them—if only for their humanness.
Will such a cultural shift be easy?
Absolutely not, but we must start somewhere. Perhaps we begin with our community. Perhaps we begin with our circle of close friends on campus, our roommate, one of our professors. Just start somewhere.
Christ’s 12 disciples initiated a counter-cultural revolution that continues to this day in every country in the world. I think with the help of Christ we can do our part to continue the revolution they started.
This column is meant to challenge you. To prompt you to reconsider some of your notions of justice for the unborn, and for those who share in their struggle for life: the convict, the refugee, the terrorist, the soldier. They are all human, they are all created by the Almighty God, they are all full of life, and I don’t want to see any of them die.