On Being Pro-Life

What does it mean to be pro-life? So often, the term is used only to denote being anti-abortion, but I think it goes beyond that. I cringe a bit when I see candidates touted as being pro-life, yet those same candidates are pro-death penalty and against social programs.

If we were truly pro-life, I feel we would seek to end abortion (obviously), and also support families through longer, paid maternity leave, better access to affordable health care (that is actually good), and expand other social programs. Can we be truly pro-life if we ensure a child isn’t killed in utero, but don’t help the mother and child after that?

And the death penalty. I fail to see why it is needed in most cases, if the person can be safely incarcerated and kept from harming others. There’s also the fact that some on death row are innocent, and the death penalty is often used disproportionately against minorities and the poor. I was just reading how the time for appeals has been reduced, and some have lost their right to appeal by being only a day late in submitting the paperwork. At least some of these people rely on public defenders. Even if they are guilty, life is sacred, and so I will argue on their behalf as well.

I also include the stance on immigration in being pro-life. Sometimes when I listen to arguments about it, it seems some forget that we’re talking about people. Just because they aren’t from our country doesn’t mean they don’t deserve dignity. Many have come here out of desperation to leave bad situations in their home countries, and so have traveled a dangerous road to a land with a different language, living in fear lest they be discovered and deported. Many come to try to provide a better life for their children. I would want the opportunity to do the same for my own family. Does this mean we just open our borders completely? No, but I do think immigration, by and large, is good, and I also think the people coming over need to be treated with respect.

I know many in the US think of themselves as more pro-life than, say, Europe, but I have to say that, with all the social programs, good healthcare, and no death penalty, the UK seems more pro-life than the US to me. Many European countries also have those things.

If I have to choose just one of these to support, it’s ending abortion, since there’s no getting around the sad statistic of approximately 125,000 abortions per day worldwide. But I don’t think this needs to be an either/or situation. I don’t think we should settle for that, but should take the both/and approach: work to end abortion and work to support families, including immigrants, and end the death penalty. Let’s be truly pro-life, supporting life from conception to natural death.

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