A recent tweet from pro-abortion actress Jameela Jamil included the accusation that pro-lifers only care about babies before they’re born, or “pro-birth.” This is not the first time Jamil has made this claim. Late last year, she tweeted, “You people are Pro birth. Not pro life. There are plenty of starving, homeless babies currently. Over 100k currently seeking foster care. You care about fetuses, Once they’re out the womb, you don’t give a [f***]. Help the kids who are alive first, then call yourself ‘pro-life.’”
Jamil also came under fire last year for tweeting about how she believes children are better off dead than in foster care.
She also previously stated, “I’m someone who’s had an abortion, and I feel like I need to make sure that we prove it’s not always just emergencies. People have abortions, sometimes a woman just wants her liberty, and we have to normalize that it’s okay just to make that choice for yourself, because your life is as important as a newborn life that doesn’t even exist yet.” (emphasis added)
Of course, preborn human beings do exist, or there would be no such thing as abortion.
If you are actually pro-life… then vote blue. To vote red is just to be pro-birth. Once you’re out of the womb, you’re on your own. They don’t even want you to have healthcare. https://t.co/mzkZqfOqhn
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) October 5, 2020
Similarly, a recent “News and Record” column from Greensboro, NC, outlined, “I am perplexed how a person can be pro-life for the unborn and not be pro-life for the living.” The author stated:
I am mystified how a person can demand protection for a child still in the womb and yet deny protections once they enter the world. I am baffled how people can be against abortion, and not also be against the death penalty, against poverty, against disparities in education and against immigrant children separated from parents and kept in cages. Should pro-life not also include pro-elderly in a pandemic, pro-health care for every baby, pro-child care for essential workers who make the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour? (Could you afford child care on that amount?)
In short, she summarized, “I am puzzled by people who consider themselves 100% pro-life but do not seem to share that same passion for a child’s life once born.”
This type of accusation, that pro-lifers only care about preborn children but not about born people, can cause distress for a pro-lifer unsure of how to respond. How does one prove that one is really “pro-life” according to an ever-changing definition that may or may not also include holding whatever the current culturally popular opinion is about climate change, the death penalty, illegal immigration, and more? Is it true, what the social media comment boxes say, that a pro-lifer who hasn’t personally adopted or fostered children, is really just “pro-birth”?
First of all, this argument falsely paints pro-lifers as being people whose desire to save the preborn from violent deaths translates to a lack of concern about other issues (as if saving children from death is not a laudable goal in and of itself). But this is simply not the case. Many of the same people espousing pro-life views are those who oppose the death penalty, who run soup kitchens and homeless shelters and maternity homes, who fight for school choice and better employment opportunities, and who fight for and support social services to help people in various difficult life situations.
Human beings can and do simultaneously support many causes. Pro-lifers are no different. (Must someone who supports the American Cancer Society necessarily be against the American Diabetes Association, so to speak? Of course not.) However, to truly be pro-life, one must oppose the killing of human beings before they are born. That’s it. That’s the definition of “pro-life,” and before recent efforts to redefine the term, this was the understood and accepted definition.
Are pro-lifers “pro-birth”? Yes, because the right to life is the first right upon which all other rights are built. Without the right to life, there can be no other human rights.
In his book, “Persuasive Pro-Life: How to Talk About Our Culture’s Toughest Issue,” pro-life apologist Trent Horn addresses the logical error in this line of thinking using an analogy. He writes:
Imagine firefighters being dispatched to a house fire where a family is trapped inside and the town mayor asks the firefighters, ‘If you save these people, where are they going to live, and who’s going to take care of them? If you won’t take responsibility for them, then we should just let them burn.’
But firefighters aren’t responsible for feeding and sheltering fire victims; that is the responsibility of other groups like the Red Cross.
Similarly, Horn writes, “[P]ro-life advocates are not responsible for feeding and sheltering children who would have been aborted; that is a job for social services and other charities that focus on providing people with a decent quality of life. Pro-life advocates have a responsibility only to ensure that people are allowed to live, though many pro-life advocates do support charities that help people attain a decent quality of life.”
Anticipating that a pro-choice person could respond to this logic by saying that his “only goal is to ‘get the fetus born,'” Horn responds that he doesn’t necessarily disagree, because saving the life of a human being — rescuing them so that they even have a chance at life — is most important.
“‘Do anything to get the fetus born'” essentially amounts to “‘Do anything to stop the fetal human from being dismembered,'” he writes. “So even if this were true (which it isn’t), I would have no problem saying my only goal is to ‘get the fetus born.’ After all, we wouldn’t fault a firefighter who didn’t provide free housing to fire victims because his only goal was to save lives and put the fire out.” (Horn, 217)
Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America put forth basically this same argument during a response to a college student claiming that the potential suffering of a child who is abused is a justification for abortion:
Shawn Carney of 40 Days for Life offered another take in his video response to the pro-birth accusation, noting that actually the pro-choice position is logically inconsistent when it comes to devaluing life in the womb and then suddenly caring about children after they’re born. He said:
[Caring about living children] is assumed when you are pro-life. It only has to be argued for if you support abortion, because it is completely inconsistent to say that we can dehumanize children in the womb to protect ‘quality of life’- that’s always the argument – that we need abortion to eliminate poverty, we need abortion to eliminate suffering, we need abortion to eliminate disease at home and abroad.
And this is a very dangerous mentality, that when it goes into any nation or government, it always leads to the destruction of innocent human life- that quality of life dictates everything, and we need abortion because the fewer children that exist in the world, the better lives they’ll have.
Far from being a “gotcha” moment in dialogue between pro-choice and pro-life individuals, lobbing the “pro-birth” label at pro-lifers can actually become an opportunity to address the inconsistency in the pro-choice position when it comes to valuing all human life, as well as to discuss the fact that being abortion-focused in the pro-life movement makes sense.
Abortion deliberately kills an innocent human being. There is no justification for that. Any attempt to claim pro-lifers are uncaring people for opposing those deaths is a smokescreen.
SOURCE: HORN, TRENT. PERSUASIVE PRO-LIFE: HOW TO TALK ABOUT OUR CULTURE’S TOUGHEST ISSUE. CATHOLIC ANSWERS, 2014.
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