Even as I type the title of my article here, I cringe at the shower of outrage that’s about to come my way. No, seriously, I know that many well-meaning people believe that it is possible to be personally pro-life. I’ve been thinking about this recently, and I have to disagree. I’m talking about the people who say, “I wouldn’t personally have an abortion, but it’s not my place to tell others what to do.” Or something like that. Let’s run through some of the ideas and thoughts behind a “personally pro-life” viewpoint.
Would it be okay with you if I made any of the following statements? (Ignore your personal thoughts on these issues. Just take the statements at face value.)
I wouldn’t personally shoot a Mexican crossing the border into the United States, but it’s not my place to tell a Texas landowner what to do.
I wouldn’t personally drink and drive, but it’s not my job to tell you what to do.
I wouldn’t personally rape anyone, but hey, it’s not my business what you do in your own private life.
I wouldn’t personally hold up a bank at gunpoint for a joke, but I’m not going to tell you what’s ok and what’s not.
I wouldn’t personally leave my kid with an abusive babysitter, but I won’t tell you what you should do with your kid.
Thoughts, anyone? Let’s just say that personally, I think those statements are full of junk. Kudos to me if I wouldn’t personally do bad things that would make me a nasty person, a murderer, or an absolutely horrible parent. Should I just pat myself on the back now?
The point in a civilized society isn’t so much what we wouldn’t personally do, though I admit that if everyone would stop personally doing bad things, we’d live in a perfect world. But guess what: that’s not gonna happen in this world, despite our best hopes. There will always be people among us who will personally choose to do wrong things. Therefore the question becomes not what we personally won’t do, but what is wrong for all of society.
I think we can all agree with the following statements:
It’s wrong to shoot an illegal immigrant.
It’s wrong to stab a gas station cashier.
It’s wrong to smother a newborn baby.
It’s wrong to run over a black child with a car.
It’s wrong to strangle an adolescent with Down Syndrome.
It’s wrong to kidnap a woman and kill her.
It’s wrong to end a man’s life because we don’t like him.
It’s wrong to poison an elderly person because we don’t want them around anymore.
Basically, it’s wrong to kill innocent human beings. It doesn’t matter who they are or what position in life they have or what race or gender they are or what environment they came from. It doesn’t matter how old or young or developed or not developed they are. It doesn’t matter if we love them or hate them. It doesn’t matter if they’re convenient or expensive or hard to deal with. All that matters is that they’re human and we do not have the right to kill them. Civilized society agrees with this.
Except. Except in the cases of the unborn humans in our midst. The only differences they have from us are 1) their environment, 2) their level of dependency, 3) their development, and 4) their size and physical appearance. Since when are those qualifiers for the right to life?
Plenty of people live in different environments – think of people in other countries, in hospitals, or on the street. We don’t have the right to kill any of them. Plenty of people have differing degrees of dependence. What about a person on a ventilator, a newborn baby, a disabled adult, or a regular five-year-old? When does someone become “too dependent” – so much so that we have the right to kill them?
Plenty of people are at different developmental stages – whether you’re talking about mental or physical development. Human life is, in a way, development. Plenty of people are different sizes with different physical appearances. Think of men, women, dwarves, giants, three-year-olds, and people born with a cleft lip. Do any of those things affect our “right” to kill them? Clearly, they don’t in any case we can think of – except the unborn. This is an illogical, unfounded, and entirely unjust exception.
The gravity of this injustice should force us to take a public stand. We cannot afford to be “personally pro-life.” While it’s great if you wouldn’t have an abortion yourself, it’s not enough. Babies are being put to death in horrific ways every single day in our nation and throughout the world. If your only opinion is that you wouldn’t have an abortion, than you’re not actually pro-life. You simply wouldn’t personally have an abortion. I congratulate you on this decision – it’s an excellent one.
But being pro-life means that you think no baby should be sentenced to die in this way. It means that you’re willing to take a stand and say, “Every life is precious, not just the life of my own child. Every baby deserves a chance to live. Every baby has the equal right to life. And I will stand up for that life.” When you can say that, my friend, then you are truly pro-life.