The phrase “pro-life” has often been solely identified with the abortion debate. But, in reality, it should be much more than that. It should be a wide-spread, all-encompassing ethic that sees the innate dignity of and interpersonal responsibility to all human life, both born and unborn, and strives for equity towards all. It should confront all issues, such as discrimination against minorities, the struggles of refugees and immigrants, sexual abuse, the death penalty, gun violence, warfare, economic corruption, environmental ravages, etc. I believe the majority of people, on both sides of the spectrum, see themselves as being supportive of human rights, but oftentimes, they live with inconsistencies in their advocacy.
Those who claim to be pro-life on the abortion issue and yet are hard-line about cutting programs to sustain the poor, disabled, and marginalized are often accused by the opposition as merely being “pro-birth.” They might also receive critique for tending to be more conservative when dealing with issues such as warfare, the environment, immigration, the death penalty, and other social justice quandaries. Some see them as being hypocritical in their stand in politics, especially in such infamous cases as that of Roy Moore, who may have been anti-abortion, but could not truly be relegated as being “pro-life” by any standards.
On the other hand, however, pro-choice advocates negate the humanity of pre-born children and only seem to believe in their right to exist after they are born. In essence, in their most vulnerable developmental state in their mother’s womb, they are viewed as somehow sub-human and therefore expendable until they are “viable”, which has little to do with their nature and everything to do with the obligation of others to take their sheer level of helplessness and voicelessness into consideration. And while so much argument is put towards the rights of pregnant women to “choose”, absolutely no ability to choose anything is given to her unborn child, unless one would interpret tiny hands and legs pulling away from surgical instruments destined to suck them apart as a choosing, and it certainly isn’t in favor of the proceeding.
Caring for the poor and marginalized groups already born, but failing to care about the intrinsic worth of all lives from the very beginning, and the severely marginalized tiny lives in the womb, is a dichotomy, unless they can somehow prove fetuses to be non-human, or even equivalent to “cancer cells”, as some abortion advocates have termed them, which is a severe stretch of the scientific imagination. More than ever before, there is proof to the contrary. It may be an inconvenient truth, but it’s not dead matter we are dealing with, but rather living beings.
One cannot be truly “pro-life” unless they are also “pro-birth” in that everyone deserves the right to life, but it must never stop at a mere right to have it. This life must be sustained and nurtured with sympathy and integrity as a society. Abortion does not occur in a vacuum, and there are various contributing factors which often slip under the radar of political talking points. Basically, it’s often a matter of putting your money where your mouth is to cut down on the death toll. Financial aid should be there in the form of maternity leave, women’s health coverage and pre-natal care, and methods of helping unwed mothers continue their schooling and/or jobs, as well as assistance in either raising the child or putting it up for adoption, as best suits her circumstance.
Many pro-life activists do wholeheartedly assist in these ways through volunteer initiatives, but further governmental aid, and a culture which takes responsiblity for all life instead of fearing expenditure and potential misuse, would be most beneficial. If cuts are being made to Planned Parenthood as an abortion provider, the very least that can be done is to use all the money taken from there to put towards above-mentioned programs dedicated to women’s health, especially in the area of pre-natal care. Otherwise, the move ultimately appears like a chauvinistic sham, trapping women between a rock and hard place instead of opening up superior and sustainable options.
The fact is that we are all interconnected. Choices of this gravity are never held in singularity. A woman’s choice immediately deals out life or death to a child, so the consequences stretch beyond her instantly. And the reality is it is not simply a women’s issue. Because, while we all can’t say we are women, we can say we have all developed in the womb. Think about it. There is no human being who has not shared in that mysterious pre-natal experience. Male or female, black or white, and every other form, category, or identification that may later be applied – all began in this same way, this same space, and our tiny lives had meaning then as they do now.
Tragically, abortion has ever-increasingly become a political football between extremes, and is often hijacked in the most absurd ways. Recently, the painful and predictable shaming over abortion vs. gun violence in the aftermath of the recent school shooting has been nothing short of cringe-worthy and self-centered.
“If you care so much about keeping kids from getting shot, you’d keep them from being killed in the womb too!”
The answer back is prompt.
“You say we don’t know how guns work? Well, how much do you know about women’s reproductive organs?”
Seriously, people. All of you involved in this. Do you really think it’s going to solve anything all? If anything, you’re making two extremely grave subjects your play-things to taunt the other side with. You’re both pulling the rug out from underneath your own arguments.
I consider myself to be universally pro-life, and I say that one thing these two groups do get right is the fact that there is a bizarre paradox going on here. Reasonable gun safety regulations and restrictions ARE a pro-life measurement, and it should be evident that we need to secure the safety of our kids at all costs (not to mention random people at large in all settings, such as churches, concerts, movie theaters, night clubs, etc.). And of course, it should be equally evident that the way a woman’s reproductive organs work enable the capacity to carry new life, individually and intrinsically worthy of life and dreams and a future. And yes, that’s why there’s such a thing as double-homicide. But this should also make it totally evident why programs should be in place to specifically aid and benefit pregnant women. There are so many “evidents” that evidently people are missing the boat on, it’s mind-blowing/boggling.
Perhaps this is where the “sending prayers” part comes in. The fact is we need them, and we need to put them into practice. Too often, tragically, it has become an excuse to inaction or a trope for further in-fighting, but in reality prayer, in the fully rooted spiritual sense, is always accompanied by a sense of purpose and a call to action. “Thy Kingdom Come”, means we must start our labor in the vineyard to cultivate a society that both embraces the life ethic and social justice ethic which encompasses all people in its totality, no matter their race, creed, gender, orientation, age, stage of development, or any other division that could possibly be introduced.
I will conclude with the lyrics of the song “Juliette” by Catholic singer/song-writer Miriam Marston. It is a powerfully tragic presentation of the death of innocent life, which applies to children gunned down in a cafeteria, children starving from malnutrition, children grown sick from contaminated drinking water, children blown apart by falling bombs, and yes, to tiny children sucked apart by a vacuum before even knowing the breath of life in this world. Perhaps we really are all our brother’s and sister’s keepers. Perhaps, in spite of all the ways to follow the bitter patterns of one-sided fighting without two-sided resolution, we are concentrically intertwined in more ways than we can imagine:
The sound of water always lulled her to sleep,
like the gentlest waves you could imagine.
And she dreamed all of the purest dreams
untouched by the madness outside her.
And one day when the storm broke,
the ocean spoke no more.
And all the dreams ended there,
alas there was
a dreamer alive there.
The sound of conversation stirred her awake,
with all the comfort of a long awaited embrace.
But they were only words deciding her fate
without her thoughts and her perspective.
And one day when the storm broke
the ocean spoke no more.
And all the dreams ended there
alas there was
a dreamer alive there.
And one day when the storm ends
our knees will bend for the unnamed.
And is it freedom on display
as some say,
or gone astray,
replacing the day with evening.
“With all the emptiness locked inside
maybe this thing will satisfy.
With all the unwritten lullabies,
maybe this love will sanctify.
Avellina Balestri (aka Rosaria Marie) is a Catholic freelance writer from the scenic and historic Penn-Mar borderlands. She the editor-in-chief of Fellowship & Fairydust, a literary magazine inspiring faith and creativity and exploring the arts through a spiritual lens. In addition to her regular contributions to The Wisdom Daily, her writings on matters of world history, popular culture, current events, and universal spirituality have been featured in a variety of publications including St. Austin Review, Catholic Insight, Latin Mass Magazine, Mvslim, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Network, , etc. In all of this, she seeks her inspiration from the Ultimate Love and Source of Creativity, and hopes to share that love and creativity with others.