This year, with a new federal supreme court more conservative than any in recent decades, the Utah legislature is considering House Bill 235, a bill intended to force a challenge to Roe vs. Wade. The bill seems to have sparked a renewed debate between those referring to themselves as “pro-choice,” and those who call themselves “pro-life.”
I personally find the term “pro-life” a bit misleading. The prefix “pro” means “in favor of, supportive of.” While the nominally pro-life side may zealously defend the sanctity of life at one stage (the pre-natal stage), they often seem strangely indifferent to life once that life has left the womb.
To be supportive of life means much more than to merely outlaw abortion and advocate retributive penalties on those who undergo or perform abortions. Some religious leaders, most notably Catholic theologians, have come up with what they call the Consistent Life Ethic, or “Seamless Garment of Life.” This philosophy shows a broader perspective which better suits the definition of the word “pro-life.”
Pro-life shouldn’t simply be about forcing expectant mothers to carry their babies to term, but rather about ensuring they have the medical, financial, and emotional support which will help reduce the feelings of desperation and isolation which lead many women to seek abortions.
Pro-life means not merely fighting to provide every child the opportunity to draw breath outside the womb, but fighting just as diligently to provide them the food, shelter, clothing, and health care needed to maintain that life with some measure of dignity until its natural end.
Pro-life means working to provide every individual has access to a quality education and economic opportunities, so that they can find meaning in life and become contributing members of society.
Pro-life means promoting a penal system focused on rehabilitation and healing rather than punishment. How can one claim to be pro-life when they support the use of death by the state as a means of punishment and crime prevention, risking irrevocable tragedy when innocents are mistakenly convicted and executed and robbing the rightfully convicted of the opportunity of repentance and restitution to society?
Pro-life means promoting peace over war, actively and persistently pursuing alternatives to the violent taking of life in conflict resolution. Efforts to establish a U.S. Department of Peace show a creative and consistent commitment to life.
Pro-life means establishing a system by which we can provide the comfort and temporal support we owe our elders as they approach the end of their natural lives.
I’d be more inclined to support the efforts of self-described pro-life advocates if they seemed more genuinely interested in “the sanctity of life,” and less interested in punishing those who have sinned.