With Women’s History Month ending last week and this week being Holy Week, the week leading up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, for Christians, I thought it would be great to reflect on the meaning of “pro-life.” That might sound odd, but I hope that just means you will stick around long enough to understand how relevant and important it is.
You have probably heard the phrase “pro-life” anytime a discussion about abortion rights or a Woman’s right to choose – “pro-choice” – comes up. The “pro-life” side is against women having abortions because they claim to believe in the sanctity of all life. The “pro-choice” side is for women having autonomy over their own bodies and being able to make medical decisions for their own welfare and that of their families. Regardless of which side you are on, the general understanding was that the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade settled the matter for all time. In other words, Women would have the legal right to an abortion all throughout the United States. On June 24th of last year, however, in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization the Supreme Court reversed the decision of Roe v. Wade and a 1992 court case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This was declared a victory for the “pro-life” movement, especially among some Christians who make up a substantial portion of that movement.
That declaration just never sat right with me though. Let me explain to you why.
Many in this so-called “pro-life” movement tend to also be what we often refer to as more “conservative.” That’s not always the case, but it overwhelmingly trends that way. Conservatism, in addition to restricting or banning abortion (“pro-life”), is associated with being for the death penalty, guns, limited government (except when it comes to women and their bodies apparently), defunding government assistance programs (i.e., welfare, food stamps, etc.) and public education, boosting the military budget, and more policing. They are also without a doubt typically capitalist with a capital “C.”
They tend to be opposed to efforts to hold police accountable for killing of unarmed Black Women, Men, and children. They tend to be opposed to universal healthcare, government assistance programs, and gun regulation. They tend to be opposed to any cuts to the ballooning United States military budget in favor of public education or those government assistance programs they don’t like. They tend to be opposed to any regulations that would require businesses and citizens to act in a more sustainable (for the earth) way as it relates to energy usage, water, and even the types of cars made and driven. They tend to be opposed to any government efforts to help put an end to poverty in the U.S. because of the belief, as misguided as it may be, that everyone has the same opportunity and access to become a “success.”
It’s hard to claim that you’re “pro-life” if you can see body after body beaten, brutalized, lifeless in the street and not think that some overhaul is needed in the entire system of policing in the country. It’s hard to claim that you’re “pro-life” if you’re okay with people not being able to go to church, grocery shopping, the movies, the mall, college, or, if you’re a kid, to school without having to worry about the possibilities of being gunned down. It’s hard to claim that you’re “pro-life” if you ignore the homeless (unhoused) crisis that gets worse and worse. It’s hard to claim that you’re “pro-life” if you can see that 1 in 7 children in America (U.S.) are living in poverty and not see a societal moral failing. It’s hard to claim that you’re “pro-life” if you are okay with innocent people being executed by the government in various states. It’s hard to claim that you’re “pro-life” if you’re not angered into action as people are not able to afford medicine and medical operations that would save their lives. It’s hard to claim that you’re “pro-life” if you are more concerned about your own perceived comfort than potential climate change and pollution/waste solutions that could save God’s creation which includes you. It’s hard to claim that you’re “pro-life” if you believe poverty and the death thereof that exists is a problem for “those people” or indicative of a lack of hard work.
There appears to be a disconnect between the affirmation of “pro-life” as it relates to Women and girls choosing to have abortions (for whatever reason) and these other ways life is so easily and avoidably taken from this world. The designation “pro-life” is great marketing on their part, but I think a more appropriate term would be “pro-birth.” They are for the birth of people in this world, but I think it is safe to say that that is where their care or concern for their life ends.
We can’t only care about life before birth and then, once a person is born, abandon any care or concern for them. Jesus the Christ of Nazareth who we acknowledge, during this Holy Week, was wrongly convicted and received the death penalty that many who claim to be “pro-life” support today. While we recognize it as an eventual celebration, it was anything but that one Thursday night and Friday. It was an injustice that took the life of the exemplar human being from this earth. This Holy Week I’m reclaiming the phrase “Pro-Life” from those who seem to only care about life being formed in the womb. I encourage each one of us to really be pro-life in our rhetoric, the way we treat others, the way we vote, what we advocate for, and the types of activities we’re involved in.