Could We Just Stop Using the Label “Pro-Life”?

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I did not have a book ready for review today and so jotted down some of my own thoughts about the Texas school shooting and the claims of our politicians to be pro-life. If this is more controversial than you like, here’s your chance to take a pass.

The shootings at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas have reinforced my conviction that as a nation we have decided to sacrifice our children on an altar of guns. And it is not just Uvalde. There has been more than one mass shooting a day in the United States this year. We have more guns than people in this country. You cannot turn on the news in my city without reports of a shooting, often resulting in one or more deaths. Most of those both killing and dying are young.

And no neighborhood is safe. I thought I lived in a “safe” neighborhood until a woman was murdered in her front yard by a stalker. This was little more than a block away. I heard the shots and thought they were fireworks. Until I saw the news the next day. No place is truly safe when there are more guns than people and people seem angrier than ever. I’ve learned not to respond to aggressive drivers. They could be carrying. Some live with this all the time. I predict more of us will.

What is most disturbing in my state and many others is that the very people who have aggressively promoted pro-life measures are the same ones removing all the safeguards on gun ownership. We now have a permitless carry of concealed weapons law in our state but there has been no action on “red flag” laws that would allow a court ordered restriction of the access of someone with mental health issues to a gun–a measure the overwhelming majority of the American public favors. Such orders may be sought by family or law enforcement, require a court ruling and due process, and have limits protecting civil liberties. Yet even such measures do not impair law abiding citizens from buying any gun they want.

That is why I want politicians to stop using the label “pro-life.” Almost none that I know are consistently pro-life. They are only pro-life in the areas their base wants them to be pro-life. Which, from what I can see is “pro-fetus.” I wonder how much most of them really care for mothers and the life they are bearing. I say all this as someone who is pro-life in this sense.

What would it mean to be consistently pro-life?

  • Protecting the life of the unborn, unless this endangers the life of the mother.
  • Pro-life means access to all mothers to good pre-natal and post-natal care and affordable, quality daycare.
  • Pro-life means access to quality health care for all of our citizens, no matter your zip code or economic status. Good preventive care may actually save money as well as lives, especially for urban hospitals where the emergency room is the doctor’s office.
  • Pro-life means addressing issues of mental health. Often, mental health is something discussed by those who oppose even sensible gun measures, but then nothing is done to provide good mental health care, especially for those whose conditions might lead them to harm themselves or others.
  • Pro-life cares about our addiction crisis. Over 100,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the US in the period ending in April 2021.
  • Pro-life cares about elder care. The warehousing of the elderly and the high numbers of COVID deaths early on in the pandemic in congregate care settings points up the lack in our care for our elder population.
  • Pro-life cares about the world we live in, the air, the water, and the climate. In some parts of the world, extended droughts threaten life as do prolonged high temperatures.
  • And pro-life is committed to substantive measures to reduce gun violence. As long as guns are ubiquitous, so will be gun violence. Pro-life asks, “why do we want guns?” Certainly there are legitimate reasons, but I believe that when many buy a gun, they make an implicit decision that they are willing to take a life. Sadly, most often, it will be the life of someone they know, or even their own life. Guns turn a momentary angry or self-destructive impulse into a fatal act.

I know few politicians who affirm a consistent pro-life ethic covering all of life for all people, no matter their status. So I wish they would stop saying they are pro-life because in my ears it is a hypocritical statement. At the same time, the politicians we elect reflect the people who elect them. For most of us, we cannot claim to be consistently pro-life either. We are selectively pro-life. We are not terribly disturbed that people in another zip code in our city have a much lower life expectancy, just because of where they live, or that some small island nations may have to find another place to live because their homes may be submerged.

Maybe as a country, we need to face that we have embraced a culture of death. We celebrate it in our videogames, television, and movies. We seem relatively indifferent to the 100,000 drug deaths or a million COVID deaths or the gun violence occurring every day in any major city. It makes me wonder how quickly we will forget the 19 beautiful children and two dedicated teachers who died in Uvalde. Already, those who died at the Topp’s grocery store in Buffalo are fading from view. Equally, we are indifferent to the nearly 42 million abortions in the U.S. between 1973 and 2019.

Little wonder we do not have consistently pro-life politicians. They are simply a mirror reflection of the people who have elected them. They are a reflection of us. Let’s stop pretending.

9 thoughts on “Could We Just Stop Using the Label “Pro-Life”?

  1. Unfortunately, Bob, labels are everywhere. Even you used the labels “unborn” and “pro fetus”! (The sacred author in Lk 1:41 used a better term that is usually translated as baby, babe, or infant). You mention school & mass shootings, drug deaths, gun violence, and maternal, health, mental health, addiction, elderly, environmental cares – of which NONE of those affects anyone, anywhere, that does not survive the womb! One million Americans, every year, don’t even get a chance to breathe! And roughly half of Americans vote for people that are okay with that! Even our founding fathers stated Life as the first right. So I suggest one to support those who support this most fundamental of all rights (and God’s crowning achievement) and worry about the other issues after this one is solved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sark, I won’t dispute language with you: baby, babe, and infant are good words. Of course, all the other protections I discuss are predicated on being born. To me, though, it seems inconsistent to protect life in utero, and not address measures to protect life post-utero. The Catholic church, from which I’ve drawn this idea, speaks of a “seamless garment of life.” Good parents do all they can to guard the lives of their children. Neighbor love, also a biblical idea, seeks for the neighbor all we want for ourselves, including life. While we cannot prevent people from making bad choices, we certainly can do all we can to prevent un-chosen harms, like lead in drinking water, just as we would prevent the unchosen harm of abortion. I think I am obligated to do what is in my power to protect life, even if the issue of protecting babies in utero is not resolved. If nothing else, good pre-natal care protects both mother and indirectly, child. Safe environmental conditions reduce birth defects which may be fatal. Public health measures that protect the general population especially protect vulnerable expectant mothers, as we have seen with COVID. I think this is an aspect of the seamless garment idea. The devaluation of life anywhere affects the whole culture. But if we agree to disagree here, I’m glad we agree on protecting vulnerable babies in utero.

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  2. Why not find out why these kids are do drpressed. 107, 000 drug overdoses is a new high and has to stop. Shut the borders and stop selling cocaine to these kids. Teach them social skllls!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We might also ask if there is something so toxic and depressing about our society that more and more people are choosing drug or alcohol induced escapes. And it is not just kids!

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