A New Definition for “Pro-Life” ?

November 22, 2008

So, last week national news reported that priests in a few conservative Catholic Diocese, including one in North Carolina, have stated that any church members that voted for Obama should repent before being allowed to receive communion due to Obama’s pro-choice stance. When a “viable pro-life candidate” is running for election against a pro-choice candidate, some of these priests said, church doctrine compels believers to vote accordingly.

I truly don’t want to drag up a tired, circular and never ending argument for no reason. I feel that, at least currently, my view is politically sound and secure. I am apparently not in a small minority, since during this past election no ballot initiative that would change abortion from its state of safe, legal and rare passed.

So really, I’m not bringing this issue up in a political sense, or in a call to arms type rally cry either. I just feel like venting a bit and expressing this debate in a slightly different light. See, in my current town there is a large conservative Catholic base. Those that aren’t Catholic tend to be evangelistic protestants. Those that are neither tend to be very influenced by those that are in some form or fashion. This isn’t a bad thing, this isn’t a disparaging remark against those groups of people. I grew up in an evangelistic protestant church and many of my closest friends and family still attend one. I attend Episcopal churches, a denomination that draws heavily from the Catholic church. My point in mentioning this at all is that I’ve become increasingly aware of how commonplace it is to hear openly “pro-choice” vocabulary on a frequent basis. When I’m at work I hear it from co-workers and customers. Driving around town I see multiple “pregnancy counseling centers” that are really just Catholic-funded organizations that attempt to deter any expecting mother from getting an abortion.

It’s the “safe” statement to make: “I’m pro-life.” Even many who consider themselves pro-choice often feel they must preface it with a statement such as, “Well I personally think abortion is wrong but I’m pro-choice because I don’t feel the government should be involved.” Such statements over-look the fact that it’s doubtful anyone getting an abortion does so frivolously, joyously or without potentially agonizing over such a choice. And why is it such a safe proclamation to say something like “Well I feel abortion is wrong. It’s just horrible, but…” I hear such things all the time. What if you say such a thing to me and I happen to have a mother, a sister, a wife or a close friend who had to have an abortion at some point in their life for whatever reason? If such a person close to me had done so, do you really think I would be happy to hear such a judgmental statement? Such a blanket statement like “Abortion is horrible,” if said enough is apt to find ears of someone who has been involved in such a painful decision and it implies they are horrible for having made that choice.

Those that vehemently state that they are pro-life…are they for the life that is here and now? The life that is alive, living in some form on this planet? They stress over the 1 in 3 women who will have an abortion at some point in their life, saddened and angry that one less baby will be brought into the world with each of those women’s choice. But would they support and strive for programs that would help that potential baby once it grew into childhood and adulthood? Would they support methods and programs that would pay for the mother to be able to afford going through pregnancy, birth and child-raising? Would they support programs that help that child receive medical attention, vaccinations, food, clothing and education? What about the children living in the world today? The child soldiers in Uganda? The children losing limbs in South Africa mining diamonds so that Americans can be “flashy?” The homeless children right here in America? What about apartheid, war, famine, poverty, death and destruction? It’s a bloody, scary and sad world but are those that are “Pro-life” concerned about those alive and trying to cope through daily life in it? I don’t mean to be sarcastic, really, but there’s plenty of life right here right now in the world that could use such people’s support, care, attention, funding and love. We can argue all day about when life begins, when the soul becomes present, when the life can live on it’s own, when such life has a purpose, meaning, destiny, fate or role. We can debate personal freedom, a woman’s right to make or not make decisions in regards to her own body, the role government should or can play in such a personal decision. But we have already argued such points and we still seem to not be seeing eye to eye. So I now think those of us that believe it is a personal and weighty decision that is much more grey than it ever is black or white to look at those of you who see it as a holy mission and ask the more rational of you to at least broaden the scope. If you love and respect life and want it to be lived more abundantly, focus some of your energy on those that have life here, now, on this planet. Many staunch pro-lifers feel they give a “voice to the voiceless,” and that they speak for those that cannot. There are many more forms such figures take. The children dying of AIDS in Africa haven’t a voice, at least not one that those that can do something about their problem seem to hear. Nor do those that suffer from the violence in the apartheid in Israel-Palestine that doesn’t accurately get covered in American media. Families that live in the most susceptible areas affected by man-caused climate change and ecological havoc suffer due to the actions of others residing continents away. Women and children toil in slave wage sweatshops for many American companies to sell “cheap” products. I could go on much longer but I think you get the picture. My point is obvious: these types of people need your passion, your care, your focus. They are alive, and there is no debate about that nor is there any debate as to whether they yet have a soul or a purpose. And of course there are many more examples of people that are much closer to home. With our US economy in the shape it is in a “pro-life” type mentality shouldn’t find it hard to find a life worth saving. So yes, I’ll say it once again: let your moral convictions guide your personal decisions in the abortion matter and let others do the same, that’s all most of us “pro-choice” folks ask– to let people make their own decisions in regards to such a difficult and personal decision. And don’t assume a Christian has to think a certain way. In one of the earlier-mentioned conversations, a coworker was lamenting the death penalty and mentioned his wife’s convictions on how immoral and outdated the death penalty is. He mentioned that she had grown up Baptist and often said that they “got it wrong,” because they condemned abortion but promoted the death penalty whereas Catholics “get it right” because they condemn both consistently. Well, I know Baptists that are against the death penalty and Catholics that are pro-choice. Doctrinally there may be disagreements but it’s not necessarily “in the book.” Episcopal tend to be pro-choice and anti-death penalty, at least in my experience, but I’ve known plenty that hold other opinions. Let’s drop the judgment and focus on these other issues that cry out for our cooperation and our service. Thanks.

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One Response to “A New Definition for “Pro-Life” ?”

  1. David Gilkey said

    I agree with most everything you put on here. I can comment on alot of it. but here goes. I agree with spiderman brand new day. The only other thing I have been reading comic wise is wolverine origins. But eventhough I dont like all the things they have done with spiderman lately i have to give credit to how they are evolving the book right now.
    I also agree with most of the singles and albums. Except for Chinese Democracy. I have been listening to three things constantly: Kanye’s new album, Coldplay’s Viva la Vida, and Lil Wayne’s tha Carter III.
    And as for the religious stuff, there was alot to read, so I skimmed it, and I like some of the things the theologian said, and I agree with the revolutionary, social view of Jesus. I do think there are two very distinct sides of Jesus and both are very important. I think those two sides are man and God. I think they are extremely important and neither should be overlooked. The man side is important bc it is the man Jesus who is a revolutionary, and is socially aware and has a deep resounding concern for people. That is shown in how he deals with people, including the religious aristocracy, and how he healed people. But there is also the God part of Jesus. It is because of the God part that the man part is so caring and concerned. God is love and the reason Jesus was who he was as a man was because of God. I think the mysticism of Christianity, specifically in the healings of Jesus, eventhough it may be difficult to believe sometimes is also important bc it sets Jesus aside from other revolutionaries, and it brings in the factor of faith. I’ll talk to you later.

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