On being pro-life

I'm going to claim a mantle I never thought I would: I'm pro-life.

Of course, that means something far different from the mainstream definition.

You won't see me picketing Planned Parenthood clinics yelling "murderer" at women going in to get their yearly pap smear.

Instead you will see me working to make contraception available freely, so that pregnancies are prevented in the first place, and women for the large part won't have to make the agonizing choice to abort their fetus.

You won't see me voting for politicians who work to gut programs aimed at children and families in the cause of "fiscal responsibility", while they line the pockets of their wealthy backers. Bill Gates doesn't need a handout; a mother struggling to feed and care for her children does. And it's not a "handout": it's an investment in fostering a strong, healthy society, one in which all its members flourish, rather than just a privileged few.

You won't see me in church nodding my head in assent over the evils of abortion, and then go out and bray for a murderer's blood to be spilled in an execution. The idea that life is so sacred that you have to take it in revenge for its criminal ending is a logical pretzel I can't make. And the past ten years have shown that many of those on death row are there unjustly, years of their lives stolen through prosecutorial malfeasance and the incompetence of defense attorneys. Innocent lives have been ended because of the zeal to extract an eye for an eye.

You won't see me marching proudly down the street with an assault rifle slung over my shoulder to exercise my "rights". That is nothing be a show of the victory of death over life, of fear over hope, of the language of violence over the practice of peace. Christ blessed the peacemakers, not those who gloried in fantasies of war.

You won't see me shaking my fist and yelling at my elected representatives to bar refugees from war-torn countries from coming to the United States out of an unfounded fear that there are hordes of jihadis among them. They're fleeing the jihadis. They're fleeing death and misery. The pro-life position is to offer them a place of refuge and hope while their countries are rent asunder. Those who deny them a place in our Republic would have shut the Holy Family from their homes. That they can't see that shows the paucity of their spiritual experience, a triumph of law over compassion.

Pro-life doesn't mean to bless the fetus and then condemn it to a life of penury once it's born. Anyone who calls themselves pro-life should make sure that every human being has a decent life, is not oppressed, can fulfill the sum of his ambitions. Pro-lifers have a very curious conception of life. It is in its fullest expression within the womb; after that wondrous time, its life can be nasty, brutal, and short, and it doesn't concern them.

It's the coldness and meanness of the pro-life position which is so abhorrent to me. It is a position which can only be enforced by the state intrusion they so categorically condemn in other parts of life. And, for many of them, the consequences of an abortion merit death in turn. Death is the central idea around which pro-lifers revolve. Theirs is not a celebration of life, but an adoration of death.

Of course, my tongue is slightly in my cheek claiming that I'm pro-life. But I would argue that my positions are much more pro-life than those of the traditional pro-life movement. Their stance seems to be that life begins at conception and ends at birth. It's quite befuddling, until you realize that their concern isn't for life, but for control: of a woman, of a society. As long as "pro-life" is concerned with only the nine months of gestation, it will be nothing but a mean and arid philosophy, one which betrays its own stated beliefs.

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