Real Support for the Sanctity of Life

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.

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11 Responses to “Real Support for the Sanctity of Life”

  1. Jenni Says:

    Thank you for this — very well written.

  2. Allie Says:

    Can we swap you into the legislature somehow? How about president? We need more common sense in government.

  3. Brian Says:

    I agree with you completely on the idea of “pro-life” being more than a simple need to assure babies are brought to term, but do you honestly feel justified in supporting the opposite stance simply because there are those who haven’t reached that level of understading?

  4. cb Says:

    Well said, Brian, . . . does Derek have a response? I would be interested in hearing it.

  5. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Welcome to the blog, CB. I appreciate your comments. As to a response for Brian, I thought it was an important enough question that I gave the response its own blog entry here.

    I wrote a related piece here.

  6. EH Says:

    If we are to take a fairly simple issue (i.e. taking a catch-phrase used to quickly tell people your basic stance on a political issue) and generalize it to account for all of our political standpoints, let’s do it from the Liberal viewpoint as well, shall we(we wouldn’t want any inequality)?

    “Pro-Choice” implies that one would not only encourage, but fully support the idea of an individual making decisions for themselves. This would include having more of a say in how one’s tax dollars are spent (b/c we know that the Liberals love those taxes!),choosing how our children are raised and what opportunities are given to them, instead of letting the government mandate that for us (as this article seems to suggest), and choosing to implement federal programs that will be funded by people who will never benefit from such a program (or want to benefit others in the same program)?

    Would pro-choice honestly choose to spend millions of dollars and hours trying to rehabilitate anti-socials and other diagnosable misfits back into society (let’s not forget what it means to be anti-social)? Wouldn’t it be a better choice to keep people who have demonstrated themselves to be harmful, degenerate members of society away from others?

    And I’m pretty sure there have been/are times in which war is necessary. No, it’s not ideal. Ideally, “alternatives to the violent taking of life in conflict resolution” would work with the completely hostile, communist countries’ leaders. So it would definitely be wise to choose the option of letting Japan bomb our shores and try to go over to have a civil chat with them.

    Choosing to forcefully give up 12% of my earnings to never see them again and provide for those who did not properly plan out their future to supply their own needs (Social Security is not an income, but a supplement) sure sounds fair to me.

    Having a “choice” means choosing the kind of healthcare my child receives. It is not the government’s responsibility to give me diminished quality healthcare. I have a choice to better my own situation instead of waiting for the heroic government to swing in and rescue me from my own circumstances.

    And let’s not forget a very important fact: choices have consequences. I know Liberals would love to think otherwise, but it’s a fact of life. So let’s go through these points and break down the consequences of these choices.

    1) “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.”
    Where does the funding for this support come from? The government? It can easily cost $10,000 just for the delivery alone (I’ll be nice and leave out the doctor visits before birth, well-baby visits, counseling, and costs of baby’s supplies during the first year that I’m assuming would be included in this support), and with 1.3 million abortions/year, we’re talking $13 billion a year in support costs. And since this support program is not already in place, it would have to be worked into the already inflated budget. UNLESS…this upport system was funded through private organizations. Oh, that’s right. That already exists. They’re called “adoption agencies”.

    2) “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.”

    This, once again would drive up taxes and lower quality of healthcare. When doctors get paid to meet quotas and not because they are running a business, trying to meet customers’ needs, the quality of healthcare will drop dramatically. And trying to find quality doctors will be a difficult and overwhelming task. Not only that, but providing food, shelter, and clothing for people at no expense (physically or financially) to them, there will be even more citizens who devalue the concept of work and will live off of hard-working Americans much like you and me.

    3)”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.”

    I firmly believe these opportunities are available. Granted, most of them through higher education, but definitely available. And don’t even start with “but lower-class, minorities are not given the same opportunity as middle-class whites” because I am living proof that it is impossible to get financial aid as a white, middle-class university student.

    4)”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?”

    As previously stated, many of these criminals have disorders so embedded into their personality, it is nearly impossible to rehabilitate them. And as for allowing them the opportunity to repent and restore…learn to live with consequences. Jail time is there repentance and restitution. And, being LDS, we know that the people who face death row will not receive forgiveness for their sins in this life.

    5) “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.”

    Avoiding conflict and opting for the alternative would allow our country to be ambushed because the violent countries would know that, if attacked, the US would not retaliate but instead try to “talk things over.”

    6) “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.”

    The current system for this is on shaky ground and will collapse within the next 30 years. Why not find an acceptable compromise that doesn’t completely screw the current generation receiving these “benefits” (since when is it a benefit to get my own money after 40 years of it being used by the government?) and stop screwing the working Americans now?
    I’d be inclined to support the efforts of self-described pro-choice advocates if they seemed more genuinely interested in “the right to choose,” and less interested in punishing those who can (and want to) choose for themselves. (loose quotation there)

    Hey, I know it sounds like I’m pushing slightly more conservative values to fit a loose liberal mold. But isn’t that exactly what this article did?

    One last thing: “Pro-life” never claimed to be “Pro-Live-Life-to-Its-Fullest”. It merely states that an embryo/fetus/baby has a right to get to the point of having a life. Period. Choosing to engage in an act that has the potential to result in human life is your choice. If you are not ready to face the consequences of your actions, don’t have sex. As members of the LDS church, we should all know that.

    • Liz Says:

      To EH (I know I’m a year late, but I want to share my personal experiences with you). I couldn’t read through your whole comment. After I read this line, “UNLESS…this upport system was funded through private organizations. Oh, that’s right. That already exists. They’re called “adoption agencies” .’ I was really stuck on what you were trying to say.

      First and foremost, I am 100% for adoption. My brother and his wife have to adopt and likely, I will too. BUT, you cannot under any circumstances expect teenage mothers (or other women thinking to abort their child) to unwillingly give their children up for adoption. I would love it if the five 14-year-old girls I taught this year had all given their babies up for adoption. But none of them were willing to do it. The first four all kept their babies, and it breaks my heart because I know the cycle of life that child will be forced to live. So when the 5th girl to get pregnant told me about her plans for abortion I gave her a big hug and told her to be careful, “go somewhere safe and make sure it is what you really want to do.” I was almost surprised by my own response, because I’m LDS I’m opposed to abortion. But because I’m LDS I know one of the most important parts of His plan is FREE AGENCY. And all five of those girls had to use their agency to decide what to do with THEIR baby.

      The second girl to get pregnant said to me, “I know there’s adoption. But I’m not about to sign away something I created to someone I don’t even know.” And she was right to feel that way. She created her child and it was her decision to make, no one else’s.

      Maybe you weren’t implying all unexpected pregnancies should result in adoption, but that’s how it read to me. And I would hope you understand the principle of agency well enough to know how ridiculous that is.

  7. kk Says:

    I disagree to the fullest extent, Derek. I, too am a mormon. How in the world can you justify in the murder (yes, murder) of so many babies?! Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton do not believe in abortion. However, it doesn’t matter because it is their political value that matters. Thanks to people like them (and you), babies are still dying everyday. It is utterly inconceivable to me how you can call yourself a true christian.

  8. Evelyn Says:

    beautiful, i totally agree with this. Thank you for posting! I’d like to say to KK, in now way did the author state that he was FOR killing unborn children–he simply states that the term pro-life is not taken seriously enough, and we do not offer enough loving support to women in dire need.

  9. Kim Says:

    This article is terrible. It is well-written and attemptively deep, but the content is foolish. Don’t you believe in families? Parents, not the state, are responsible for providing health care, education, etc. to their children. If one cannot provide the basic nessecities of life for their offspring, they should not reproduce. Liberal people, including yourself, should stop trying to take on the burdens of the world. Stop making excuses for people and enabling them by providing a comfortable life when they screw up. Gospels principles should be taught, because that is the ONLY way people can be happy. We should focus on people not having unwanted, out-of-wedlock pregnancies in the first place! We are all free to choose, and the consequences should be allowed to follow. Well-meaning young women who find themselves in a difficult position, such as those you describe, can find support, love, advice, and forgiveness from God and their FAMILIES. There’s that word again. Hmm, maybe the world’s problems should be solved through that basic unit of society and not from the top down, which is where modern liberals typically think the solutions lie.
    Also, it is morally wrong to compare the life of a babe who has not yet had their chance to fulfill their second estate to the life of someone who has had that chance and faces the death penalty. The two lives are not equal. Sorry to crush your sensitive heart, but they are not. One is a victim and one is a murderer. Having a strict punishment, such as the dealth penalty, shows respect for human life – the life of the victim. Same as in war. Church leaders, presently and in BOM times, have declared that there are times when war is justified. One of them is when you are defending your home and family. Again, as in the cases of abortion and the death penalty, you should be careful to always fall down on the side of the VICTIM, not the aggressor. Don’t let your emotions get the better of your good judgment. If you have kids, you can apply that little nugget of wisdom to your parenting, as well 🙂

  10. rcallahan Says:

    Wow. I mean, WOW. I find this offensive on so many levels. Let me just explain them one by one:

    First, regarding this statement:

    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.

    I am the mother of four healthy, happy children and I can tell you that I am in no way indifferent to life once that life has left the womb. In fact, I have given up everything to see to it that my children are well cared for: career, money, financial security, professional respect, autonomy, freedom, health, etc. How can you make such a disgusting generalization about anyone just because they disagree with you?

    And as for indifference on a wider scale, lest you forget, we do have laws against the neglect and abuse of children. We have laws that punish parents who don’t properly care for their children. We have laws that punish those who hurt children. We even have laws that punish those who kill children. What we don’t have are laws that punish those who kill unborn children, in a stage of life which you yourself define as legitimate. I find it ludicrous that a young woman can have an abortion and face no legal consequences, while a young girl who dumps her baby in the dumpster right after giving birth is arrested for manslaughter. Tell me, what exactly is the legal difference between those two scenarios, other than time and place?

    I also find the following offensive:

    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.

    First of all, your wording reveals a tactic that I am going to call you out on right now:

    Based on that first sentence alone, one might imagine a helpless young maiden being marched by jack-booted officers to a skeezy free clinic in which the nurses cackle gleefully as the poor girl screams in agony during childbirth because the disapproving, moralistic medical staff refuse to give her anesthesia of any kind. Give me a break. What is this, a Lifetime movie of the week? Don’t manipulate your readers with emotion-based pseudo logic. Even though it is effective (because good people are moved by feelings of compassion for others who are in trouble, as they should be), it’s intellectually unethical, and you know it.

    Second, this issue is not about social reforms needed to improve the condition of the poor and the underprivileged. This issue is about one thing, and one thing only. Should we or should we not, as a society, allow a mother (and her doctor) to end the life of her child? All of those other ramblings about lack of medical, financial and emotional support are just distractions to avoid that question.

    Third, let me just educate you a little bit about feelings of desperation and isolation. Any woman who has spent eight hours (or more) a day at home taking care of small children could write a doctoral dissertation on desperation and isolation. How much compassion would you have for that same mother if she decided to end the lives of her children because she was lonely and depressed from time to time? How much compassion did any of us have for the woman who drowned five of her children in the bathtub several years ago because she was dealing with those very issues? Certainly not enough to pat her on the back, tell her how brave she was, and send her on her way.

    Desperation, loneliness, despair; these are aspects of the human condition and do not justify the practice of human sacrifice. Because that is exactly what we are talking about here. Sacrificing the life of a child to prevent loneliness, hardship, poverty and shame on the part of the mother. Really? There’s no other alternative?

    And the most horrifying of all:

    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.

    So, in essence, if pro-lifers weren’t all such crazy religious zealots (again with the broad, inaccurate generalizations) and were more interested in supporting certain social programs that you proscribe, you would gladly stand up and shout out against legalized abortion. But since they don’t, you are going to make your point by sitting back and allowing, even supporting, the violent slaughter of millions of children and the resultant physical and emotional post-abortion trauma to the mothers. That’s some argument.

    In the end, the most damaging thing about this post is not the self-serving arguments or the ridiculous stereotyping, but rather the blatant and overreaching assumption about the correlation between a pro-life stance and completely irrelevant stances on other social issues. For such an enlightened, thoughtful blogger, you are very quick to place everyone who is “pro-life” into identical schools of thought regarding such diverse topics as housing, health care, education, the death penalty, and even war. It is for this reason that people on opposite sides of political and social issues can never see eye to eye on anything. They are too busy lumping each other into categories that make it easier to justify their own flawed position.

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