First, it’s important to note that the proper use of labels matters because words and how we use them matter. It is not appropriate that much of the anti-abortion movement(s) uses the term “pro-life” when they are only signifying saving the life of the pre-born from an abortion, and maybe perhaps the prolonging the life of those on life support. That is not pro-life, for their definition of life is severely limited. Even the life of the mother is suspect. Within the anti-abortion factions of Protestantism, the so-called pro-life movement seems to not give a flying rip about the lives of convicted criminals (pro-death penalty), of civilians and soldiers (pro-war), and often of the poor in the Third World or domestically (anti-poor). It doesn’t give a care to the concern of poor women, even as they are carrying the sacred pre-born (pro-shame, anti-health care). Nor does it seem to care for the victims of their favored Gunstianity (pro-guns, pro-violence). In fact, if the Evangelical anti-abortion movement is anything besides anti-abortion, it’s pro-violence. I don’t see how any of it is consistently anything but chaotic control.
Within the more consistent Catholic pro-life movement, the definition of human life is extended to the embryo to such an effect that the right to birth control is fought against in Catholic institutions and by Catholic bishops (those much closer to the ground such as nuns and priests may disagree but often are punished for verbalizing such), and the fight against reproductive choice in US Catholic churches supersedes fights against poverty and other forms of life. Even birth control is seen as a cardinal sin when the utmost virtue is to “be fruitful and multiply” despite the health or even life of the mother.
In both Protestant and Catholic anti-abortion cultures, then, neither is so much about a “culture of life” as much as a culture pitted against abortion. Oftentimes, anti-abortion people seem most concerned about the life of the potential baby, using whatever rhetoric or legislative means and trickery available to put the pre-born over and above the life of the woman.
But by now, most of us know that restricting legal access to abortion doesn’t make abortion happen less. Abortion, as in the case of Gosnell and back-alley coat-hanger procedures, happens regardless because the risks and needs involved in those who seek it are far greater and more complex and life-threatening than the anti-abortion excuse of “inconvenience for nine months.”
If anti-abortion forces wanted to truly fight abortion, they’d be pro-life and pro-woman and pro-poor. Or, to be short, pro-LIFE, in the sense that the term should be used. For life is about more than the fact of being alive. Life has to do with growth and movement and freedom. It has to do with liberation from control. And the current anti-abortion movement is, simply put, about controlling the female body and legislating and mocking what females do with their bodies. That’s not life, that is control. It tells the woman what her place is – always under the whim of the man.
If anti-abortion forces want to drastically reduce abortion, they’d fight poverty and spousal and parental abuse. They’d support comprehensive sex education. They’d fight rape culture, rather than implicitly support it through modesty culture and shaming. They wouldn’t compare young and desperate pregnant women considering abortion to dumb birds – let alone to murderers.
If anti-abortion movements wanted to show that they are actually PRO-life, they wouldn’t allow politicians that defund programs that feed poor families to represent them. They wouldn’t allow politicians to defund programs that assist poor pregnant women or children in getting necessary, regular medical treatment, let alone side with them over so-called pro-life legislative measures, trapping the poor in further and deeper cycles of poverty.
This is how you are pro-life. By being for all of life. Not by saying you are fervently for all life before you inject your 500th inmate with lethal poison.
But here is how I explain how I’m pro-choice though I’m also pro-life. It’s pretty simple, really. Because I live in the US. And though I personally don’t feel that abortion is right due to my religious feelings, I recognize that not everyone shares the same views, nor the same male privileges I do. I recognize that abortion is almost always a difficult decision and that I am not God – I cannot judge a decision I can’t begin to comprehend. And I don’t want to. I want to leave those choices open, trusting that an informed woman and her doctor know more about her own body and what she can handle than I do.
That only seems to be loving and trusting. You know, a Christian thing to do.
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