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Pro-Life with Credibility

The modern pro-life movement has focused on the issue of abortion. It would seem that is an appropriate focus given the scope of abortion and the opportunity for change. There have been 59M abortion deaths in the United States since 1973. Yet, to be pro-life requires that we be more than just anti-abortion.

The entire movement starts with the belief that every life is worthy of dignity. This idea is one that requires pervasiveness. We must apply it to every person in every situation, not just in the context of elective abortion. This is where the trouble with our credibility begins.

First, we’re going to have to address the issue of contraception. This is our biggest hurdle. Hormonal contraception, by design, is abortifacient. It may be abortion at the earliest stages of life, but it is nonetheless abortion. Other forms of contraceptives, such as barrier methods, are wrong because they stem from the same hostile mindset. The widespread usage of contraception poses a direct threat to the credibility of the pro-life movement.

Next, we have to move to constrict the death penalty. There are situations in which the death penalty is licit from a moral perspective. The criteria for meeting that moral exception are high. Rarely in the United States do we see these criteria met by any inmate. We have correctional facilities that can safeguard society from even the most dangerous offenders.

Finally, we have to be more serious about advocating for the respect of the elderly. Euthanasia is now becoming an acceptable resolution to the difficulties of life. This viewpoint is troublesome because it advocates the destruction of life as a solution. Presented as a humane way of ending suffering, it targets the most vulnerable. The truth is that euthanasia tells people that they are nothing more than a burden. Instead of experiencing the beauty of a journey's end, life comes to an unnatural end. We've made great strides in the field of palliative care so that pain can be well managed in the final stages of life. Hospice has matured as a concept bringing much-needed resources to patient and family. The dignity of the human person is not contingent on one’s health.

Somewhere in those three points, members of the pro-life movement will find a hang-up. The truth is, if we want to be credible on the respect for any human life, we must insist on the respect for all human life. Only then will our message reverberate with those who hold an opposing view.

What will it take to move the pro-life movement to a place of wholistic advocacy for the respect of life? A lot of things that will make many of us uncomfortable.