I have no problem with people identifying as “Pro-Life.” However, I do have a problem with people identifying as “Pro-Life” whilst espousing beliefs that result in death. So, I’ve drawn up a set of rules that will help people decide if they are truly “Pro-Life” or if they simply have certain opinions.
1. “Pro-Life” means more than a simple opposition to abortion rights.
It means preserving human life whenever possible, and recognizing the sanctity, dignity and individuality of every person in the entire world.
2. If you’re “Pro-Life,” you can’t also be pro-gun.
And yes, many will regurgitate the decades old, disturbingly cynical conservative mantra “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” but the facts remain: Access to guns enables 683 children and teens to kill themselves each year. 21,632 people are murdered with a gun each year. And more than 100,000 are shot each year in the United States; some live, some die*. So while guns may not provide a motive for a murder or suicide, they do provide all necessary means to carry one out. These enablers of death are the first things a truly “Pro-Life” person should denounce.
3. If you’re “Pro-Life,” you have to support comprehensive universal health care.
The only way to make sure every ill person has proper medical attention is to extend government benefits to everyone and outlaw unfair or predatory tactics employed by corporations and insurance providers. Therefore, people who are “Pro-Life” must advocate for the democratization of health coverage.
4. “Pro-Life” also means anti-war.
This one’s pretty simple: fighting wars of opportunity (like those in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korea) results in the brutal and unnecessary killing of soldiers and civilians. Of course, there is room in “Pro-Life” for addressing certain situations militarily, like genocide, terrorism or imminent nuclear war, but pacifism must be the default position for anyone who identifies as “Pro-Life.”
5. You can’t be both “Pro-Life” and pro-death penalty.
Another simple one. If you want to be “Pro-Life,” you can’t advocate in favor of state-funded, state-approved, state-executed homicide of those already in prison. I’m reminded of the bumper stickers I always saw when I was younger: “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?” Maybe a better question is “Why are people who call themselves ‘Pro-Life’ OK with killing prisoners?”
6. “Pro-Life” means safe abortions – sometimes.
At the very least, those who identify as Pro-Life must accept the fact that abortions are necessary when the life of the mother is in danger. The notion that somehow an unborn fetus’s life is more valuable than that of the woman it gestates inside of is simply preposterous. Pregnant women in need of options must be able to choose their own fate. If not, more mothers will die and more unsafe abortions will be carried out. Being “Pro-Choice” is part of being “Pro-Life.”
7. If abortion rights are entirely out of the question, the least you can do is follow through on babies’ actual lives.
The people who work to restrict abortion rights are the same ones who work to cut funding for Head Start and education. It seems as though they only care for kids until they are born, at which point their blessed unborn babies morph into hordes of undeserving children who exist only to drain money from the federal government and pile on the national debt. “Pro-Life” doesn’t stop at abortion, and it doesn’t stop at birth. It stops at the point when people’s basic needs are met and public policy reflects a deep respect for human beings on their paths from birth to death. In this sense, I am extraordinarily proud to call myself a real “Pro-Lifer.”
*Statistics on gun violence are from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (2007).