Many of us are familiar with the assumption that if someone is pro-life, it must be because he or she is a Christian. The argument has been made many times that the two certainly should go together. (Blogger Matt Walsh has perhaps put it best.) And just as faith complements many other aspects of the lives of many, it makes sense to be both pro-life and a Christian – but it is not essential to be a Christian or otherwise religious to be pro-life.
One group that comes to mind is Secular Pro-Life, whose name speaks for itself. In 2013, the group’s blog published a piece debating the claims of a rabbi who stated that the idea that life begins at conception is a religious belief – one to which he does not subscribe. It was the site’s second most-read post for that year, as the group pointed out that whether a pro-lifer is religious or not, real, modern science backs them up.
The article drew an apt analogy:
[M]ost religious people also agree that human trafficking is immoral, but we don’t call human trafficking a religious issue.
Assumptions that pro-lifers rely only on religion can negatively affect discussion and civil discourse, as it’s often used as a biased way to dismiss pro-life standards. If religion comes up nowhere else in the conversation – except when accusing pro-lifers – how does this contribute to the conversation, other than being an avoidance tactic?
I’ve groaned countless times because someone – whether it be in person or online – mentions that I must be pro-life because I’m a Christian, or even more specifically, a Catholic. I’ve never been ashamed of my faith, but in such instances I’m almost hesitant to acknowledge I am a Catholic. So what if I am? What is that going to add to the discussion when it’s not just my faith, but also real science which informs my views?
It is also important that pro-lifers, whether Christians or not, know our audience. There is a time and a place for reminding people that God, Jesus, and the Bible are pro-life. There is also a time when it is best to focus on science and reason. And yet, when pro-lifers do this, it would be nice if our intended audiences heard our actual words – not what they imagine we’ve said – and understood that we can truly prove our views in science and basic logic.
Earlier this month, when GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio was speaking about his pro-life record to CNN host Chris Cuomo, Rubio’s Catholic faith was mentioned by the host. This was a desperate go-to move, as well as an odd one, since Rubio never actually brought up his faith in his responses:
Cuomo: This is not my argument. This is a presented argument of science. It having the DNA map, so does a plant. It’s about when it becomes a human being. I’m not saying what I think in answer to that question, that’s not my position. But don’t you think, if you want to be a leader of the future, that’s a question that deserves an answer that is definitive beyond your faith? When does life begin? None of you are calling for any type of panel for consensus… That’s your faith. That’s your faith. That’s not science.
Rubio: No it isn’t. It’s science.
Cuomo: It’s not definitive science… I will have scientists on this show all morning, from all walks of life, who will all say ‘we cannot say it is definitely human life at conception.’ So it is your faith….
Why does it have to be about faith? Perhaps because Cuomo doesn’t want to talk about the real science Rubio mentions, he has to attack his view by chalking it up to his faith. This is even more odd considering that Cuomo himself is Catholic.
Biology tells us that when a sperm fertilizes an egg, a unique and separate individual forms and begins to develop. This new being has her own DNA and has never existed before, nor will she exist again. That is science. You can choose to accept or reject that science, but it’s still science.
There is certainly evidence that the Bible is pro-life, but there are also those who sadly distort the Christian text and faith to say that it’s okay to follow Jesus and support abortion. The existence of groups like the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice also demonstrate how some who call themselves Christians (or otherwise religious) get it plain wrong.
I am a Catholic and a follower of Jesus. And I can say that Jesus is pro-life. I am many things in my life because of Jesus. I am not however, pro-life, because of Jesus – at least not solely because of Him. I am pro-life because in my heart I know that from the start, what is growing in a mother’s womb is a unique human person worthy of the equal protection of life.
And it helps that the undeniable science backs me up on this.