Pro-life extends from pre-born through adult

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October 2007

 

To be  “pro-life” one must support all life, not just the lives of the unborn. Somehow politicians, anti-abortion people, and many preachers have co-opted the meaning of that sound bite to be very limited.

Somehow capital punishment, and killing of innocents in war are not considered anti-life. Somehow a candidate for President can get blackballed by his church because he isn’t strongly enough opposed to abortion.

Somehow a President who has “presided over 152 executions, more than any other governor in the recent history of the United States[1] While Governor of Texas can be called  a pro life President.  This same President however initiated an ill advised war that has killed tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people in Iraq, not to mention the tens of thousands of American casualties. This same war has caused the displacement of millions.

“Pro-life” means helping  new mothers and children in need, improving  access to health care for all people, and raising the educational opportunities of all citizens. It means expanding health care to children under the State Children’s Insurance Program. A recent bill to expand this Program was vetoed by our President. It means a lot more than overturning Roe v. Wade.  

Let’s take a closer look at the issue of abortion. The underlying questions surrounding abortion involve the beginning of life.  Is there a new human life at the time when the sperm and egg unite (that is, at conception)? Or does it begin when the zygote implants in the wall of the uterus, up to twelve days later? If a woman uses the so called morning after pill, is that really an abortion?

Let’s take an example from the plant world. I don’t think anyone would call the acorn a tree although it certainly has the potential to be an oak tree. Is it a tree when the seen inside the shell begins to break open the shell? Or is it when it sprouts beyond the shell? Maybe it is when the new growth takes root.

All analogies are lacking including this one. If taken to extreme it would be nonsense. But I think there is something to be learned here. Even though it has the potential to be an oak tree, the acorn is nothing but an acorn until it takes root. Couldn’t the same be said for the zygote in the womb of a woman? Some people have their minds made up in answer to the question when does life begins. . Some churches teach that life begins at conception. Not all would agree with that of course.

The number and percentage of abortions in relation to live births has been decreasing since the early 1980’s during both Republican and Democratic administrations. We must be doing something right even though some voices seem to indicate otherwise. About 88% of all abortions are in the first trimester. Less than two percent are prformed as a result of rape or to save the life of the mother.

There is one piece of this issue that baffles me and at the same time can offer a compromise toward reducing abortions. Let me give an example. Carrie, Alice and Betty are all six months pregnant.  If Carrie gives birth at this point she can save the baby’s life by the use of all the advanced technology we have available today, If Betty was shot to death along with her unborn baby, the killer would be charged with two counts of homicide, not one. Alice on the other hand could have her baby aborted. how can the baby in the womb of these three women be considered a human being under some conditions and not a human being in another?

It seems to me to be a no-brainer that there is human life at this stage and must be protected from elective abortion. If that period is five months, not six months, then it should be defined at five months.  This contradiction must be eliminated in the law.

Let’s all become “pro-life” in the broadest and best sense of that phrase. Let us learn to look upon people with compassion not judgement. Let’s help people move along the journey of life so that all may have the fullness of life that is their right, including pregnant women, babies, the poor and disadvantaged, the homeless, the unemployed, illegal immigrants, and yes, even convicted criminals and tyrants.

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[1] Sr. Helen Prejean, Death in Texas as reported in a New York Times book review January 13, 2005

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17670