The Evolution of My Personal Pro-Life Beliefs

It may surprise many who know me that I would easily assign to myself the Pro-Life label. I am absolutely pro-life. However, I’m not pro-life in the same sense that the ultraconservative, religious fundamentalists, who now prefer to be called evangelicals, think of pro-life. In fact, I will make the argument here in this post that the way they define pro-life is not really pro-life at all.

So what do I mean when I say that I am pro-life? I mean that I am 100% in favor of each of us living up to our personal responsibility to do what is necessary to promote the health and wellbeing of every living person on the face of the earth. This pro-life mission is, quite frankly, a heavy burden to carry. It requires a tremendous amount of each of us personally. Plain and simple: being pro-life, truly pro-life, is hard work. Too often, I’m not that good at it.

Being pro-life means I am required to grapple in kindness, respect, and dignity with people I do not understand at all. I may not understand their culture, their ethnic background, their sexual orientation, their needs, their gender expression, their insecurities, their limited or ultra-broad perspectives, their ambivalence toward others, their irrational hatreds or their bigotry, etc.

Pro-life means I must wear a mask during a pandemic even when I find it irritating. I am obligated, as a person who embraces the pro-life label, for everyone’s welfare, to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Being pro-life is an extension of living the golden rule: treating others the way you wish to be treated – in this latter example: not risking being killed by a horrible disease. I have a duty, an obligation to responsibly look after the wellbeing of community, not just myself.

The ultra-religious, ultra conservative fundamentalist evangelical concept of pro-life is, as John Pavlovitz brilliantly lays out, lazy and all about self-preservation. His recent blog post is so important, I quote a significant portion of it because I certainly can’t say it any better!

Embryos are relatively easy to advocate for. They don’t encroach upon people’s privilege or confront their politics or challenge their theology or require much from them in the way of lifestyle change. It is a clean form of activism, certainly far less messy and uncomfortable than having to defend people you don’t like or that you’ve declared the enemy, or people you are afraid of because you’ve been conditioned to be by your parents, pastors, news channels, and seminary professors.

By opposing abortion, religious people can feel the intoxicating, easy high of self-righteousness and moral virtue—without having to actually love or help people: strange, disparate, uncomfortable-for-you-to-be-around people. That’s because embryos can be idealized into something pleasant and palatable, devoid of any of the messy characteristics they find undesirable in actual walking-around human beings. They aren’t yet gay or Muslim or liberal or Black or poor or atheist (or whatever other qualifiers trouble you), and so affinity with them is uncomplicated, solidarity with them does not cross the lines of their tribalism.

Anti-abortion believers get to feel like noble advocates for Life, while still holding onto their prejudices and hang-ups and hatred. They can dispense all kinds of cruelty and expose human beings to staggering forms of bigotry—and still say they’re defending the living. Once these embryos are no longer embryos, these supposed life-lovers often don’t treat them as though they’re even human. Unless these lives conform to the narrowest and most stringent of criteria, they’re more often considered threats to be neutralized, enemies to be overtaken, and adversaries to be destroyed. When embryos become LGBTQ teenagers, terrified migrants, young black men, people dying of COVID, sick middle-aged adults with astronomical bills, the working poor, Muslims—suddenly, these lives seem far less sacred to them.

Most ironically of all, embryos that grow into women who desire autonomy over their own bodies will find their lives and wills are now of little concern. They will be legislatively subjugated by those who’d have once declared them precious.

The Easy, Selective Morality of the Pro-Life Movement

Many of these “pro-life” people are quick to place other living people at risk of severe illness and death because they claim some “personal freedom” to not wear masks and not get vaccinated during this pandemic. They demand a freedom from inconvenience. Their concept of freedom is the freedom to only be pro-life when it costs them absolutely nothing. I see their “personal freedom” in this case as a grievous personal sin, as immoral behavior.

They only want an empty slogan to hide behind: “pro-life.” They only want the good feels, not the unbearable inconvenience, the personal trauma of wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of a terrible disease that has already killed millions of people the world over. And what about their own children – the children they chose not to abort as a fetus but are now willing to run the risk of killing with a tortuous disease that can be prevented with simple, responsible behavior? Pro-life? I think not! Indeed not!

Hospitals are now rationing care because of the unvaccinated and unmasked. People who need life-saving care completely unrelated to the pandemic are not getting it because of the anything-but-pro-life choices of the unvaccinated and unmasked. As a result, real people who were responsible and really are pro-life are dying. This isn’t “personal freedom.” This is wrong. This is immorality. Pro-life? Absolutely not!

I would say that I’m sorry, I have no respect for their ideology, but I’m not sorry. I don’t feel sorry for these folks at all. In fact, I feel unparalleled levels of disgust for their lazy, self-righteous hypocrisy and their selfish, self-serving arrogance. To speak in their own terms: they need to repent and get their hearts right with the God they claim to love and serve. They need to start doing a life of faith and stop talking meaningless words that help absolutely no-one – not even themselves.

Wearing a mask is pro-life. Being vaccinated is pro-life. Pro-life is about taking care of real, walking and talking people – actual human beings. And I’m proud to state emphatically that I’m pro-life.