Tuesday, January 29, 2008

De-Coding the Term “Pro-Life”

Rudyard Kipling declared that, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

In a timely posting, blogger Joe Healy of DefendLife.org adds clarity to the term “pro-life.”


To Be or Not to Be Pro-Life?

With the ongoing election cycles, legislative sessions, and judicial nominations, many people are using the term "pro-life" to describe themselves and others. But have you stopped to think about what this term really means? I certainly hope so, for "what does the soul yearn for more ardently than the truth?" (St. Augustine); but if not, I will provide a brief reflection on what it means to be "pro-life."

It is clear that human personhood begins at conception. Philosophers and theologians have taught this for hundreds of years. Boethius wrote at the beginning of the 6th Century, "Person is an individual substance of rational nature. As individual it is material, since matter supplies the principle of individuation. The soul is not person, only the composite is. Man alone is among the material beings person, he alone having a rational nature. He is the highest of the material beings, endowed with particular dignity and rights." The human is the only material being to be a person; other persons are purely spiritual: angels and the Trinitarian God.

Modern science confirms that human life begins at the moment of conception. It is at this point that a new human creature exists, with its own unique human genetic code. If left alone to develop according to his or her nature, this new human creature will advance through all of the stages of prenatal development, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. This creature will be the same person throughout all of his or her phases of life and even beyond natural death into everlasting life.

At the moment of the conception of a human person the entire fabric of the universe is changed forever, as a new immortal soul is created by God and mysteriously united with a new human body. It happened when you were conceived, it happened when I was conceived, and it happened when each of the 50,000,000+ aborted Americans were conceived.

Now, back to the main point of this article. What does it mean to be "pro-life"? In a nutshell, it means that we acknowledge the truth that a human being is always a human person; that the human person has an inherent right to life throughout his or her entire life cycle; and that society has a moral obligation to protect the life of that person. It is really that simple. Anyone who claims to be pro-life but who denies any part of this definition is not being intellectually honest (and is arguably not pro-life). Who was it who said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me?" (Mt 25:40).

Here are some common examples of people claiming to be pro-life, but who are in actuality deceiving themselves and others:

1. "I am personally pro-life, but I cannot impose my morality on others." This statement denies the fact that a human person has an inherent right to life and that society has a moral obligation to protect the life of that person. We impose our morality on others when we have laws against murder, child pornography, stealing, and so on. This is the main purpose of government - to ensure the security of its citizens. Since the unborn are people, it is the duty of the government to protect them. Any law that allows the killing of unborn people is inherently unjust. To refuse to protect the unborn from abortion is to be anti-life.

2. "Abortion should be illegal, except in the case of rape or incest (or whatever other exception someone wants to throw in)." This position denies the entire definition of what it means to be pro-life. The person who is conceived in rape or incest is still a human person and must be protected from an untimely, unnatural death. Personhood does not depend upon the moral fortitude of one's parents, so the fact that one's father committed a crime (rape, incest) against one's mother does not make the resultant person any less human. The person conceived in rape or incest still has an inherent right to life (just ask Rebecca Kiessling, Jenni Maas , or any of the other outspoken people who were conceived in rape or incest and given a chance at life!). To be for abortion exceptions is to be anti-life.

3. "Human embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is justified because it will lead to life-saving cures." This position treats the human embryo as less than a person, when in fact it is a human person. It also subjects the human embryo to a radical utilitarianism where its life is regarded as less deserving of protection than another human life, when the only differences between the two are stage of development and physical location. Since stages of development and physical locations do not determine personhood, the human embryo must always be regarded as a person and not be subjected to life-ending experimentation. While we must always value the quality of life of the sick we must never use an illicit means to achieve those ends. To be pro-ESCR is to be anti-life.

4. "Euthanasia (or "mercy killing") is sometimes the best solution for the person who is sick, his or her family, and/or society in general." The person holding this position seeks to alter the definition of person to exclude those who are sick, elderly, or disabled. It is never right to take an innocent human life, not even if that person is in terrible pain and begging you to do so. It is up to us to let the natural processes take their course, while at the same time seeking healing and medical attention as appropriate. To deny someone food and water in order to hasten death is a gross offence against the human person. To allow for euthanasia is to be anti-life.

5. "I know that my candidate is not 100% pro-life, but he or she has the best chance of beating the 100% anti-life candidate in the general election, so I'm going to support him or her rather than the 100% pro-life candidate who is still in the running." This is a tempting position to take, but it is very wrong. Because of the faulty logic behind this position, abortion is still legal today. If the entire pro-life community would stand up for only truly pro-life candidates, the entire political landscape in America would change radically for the better in six years or less. We would have a 100% pro-life president, a large majority of pro-life Senators and Representatives in Congress, a large majority of pro-life legislators in our state and county governments, and pro-life governors and executives throughout America. With all of those pro-life leaders in place, our judiciary would become full of pro-life judges. Abortion-on-demand in America would end. If you don't think this is possible, look at what happened in Croatia, where the number of abortions decreased by 90% between 1989 and 2005. To be pro-life except when "political expediency" requires you to support the more anti-life of two candidates is to be anti-life.

To apply these principles to the current presidential race, it is obvious that all of the Democrat candidates are anti-life. They all favor keeping abortion, euthanasia, ESCR, and human cloning legal.

That leaves only the Republicans as pro-life possibilities:

Rudy Giuliani is anti-life, as he is in favor of keeping abortion, euthanasia, and ESCR legal;

Mitt Romney is anti-life, as he is in favor of legal abortion for those conceived in rape or incest, he is in favor of destroying at least some human embryos for research, and he does not oppose euthanasia;

John McCain is anti-life, as he is in favor of legal abortion for those conceived in rape or incest and favors the legal destruction of human embryos for ESCR;

Mike Huckabee is seemingly pro-life;

Ron Paul is seemingly pro-life;

Alan Keyes is seemingly pro-life.

Are you pro-life?

Further reading: Human Personhood Begins at Conception by Dr. Peter Kreeft.


Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home