What is a pro-life issue?
Recently, we’ve been told immigration is a pro-life issue. Oh, and refugees are a pro-life issue. Plus, gun control. Don’t forget keeping Obamacare intact. And also the marginal tax rate is definitely a pro-life issue.
But apparently, one thing is no longer a pro-life issue for some—abortion.
During national debates over gun violence, immigration, refugees and even tax reform, my social media feeds were filled with calls for a “consistent pro-life ethic”.
Yet for many, those passionate pleas suddenly disappeared when the pro-life issue being discussed was actually abortion itself.
This week, the Senate failed to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban elective abortions after the 20-week mark for the baby.
And many of those who were so heartily calling for pro-life consistency remained conspicuously silent.
Let me be clear, I’m not opposed to an expanded understanding of what it means to be “pro-life.” It is contradictory to fight recognition of the unborn child’s inherent worth, but dismiss it in the refugee or prisoner.
Location does not determine personhood, be it in the womb or a war-torn country.
I am, however, struck by the relative silence of many during the recent debate over a ban on abortions beyond the 20th week, a point at which science indicates the developing human feels pain.
The bill not only made exceptions for the life of the mother, but also for instances of rape and incest. It also states that a woman who undergoes a prohibited abortion cannot be prosecuted for it.
The 20-week ban is supported by a significant majority of Americans and even slim majorities of Democrats and those who self-identify as pro-choice.
Passing this legislation would remove us from being one of only seven nations in the world to allow elective abortion after 20 weeks. Currently, we are part of the dubious group of countries that includes China, North Korea and Vietnam.
In debates over other issues, conservatives were called hypocrites for claiming to be pro-life, yet not being supportive enough of the various other causes. It was said they were placing partisanship over principles.
There is truth there. If you only speak out about pro-life issues that suit your political party that can be a sign of hypocrisy. Many claim to be pro-life, but are actually pro-their political party.
That works both ways, however.
Pro-life progressive and moderate Christians that chastise conservatives for not speaking out, sometimes against their own political party, on issues like refugees and immigration cannot claim the pro-life moral high ground when exercising their own opportune silence on abortion.
I do not question their pro-life beliefs, but it is hard to not question their pro-life commitment when they avoid speaking publicly when it could be the most useful, but also the most politically costly.
They would have to demand their party go against the demands of their donors and a loud portion of their base to pass a bipartisan bill. That cannot be done without costs and some seemed unwilling to pay it.
In some ways, this is an argument from silence. And that is not always fair. Simply because a person did not share their opinion on social media about the 20-week abortion ban, I cannot assume they opposed it or that they were being cowardly.
However, it does become suspicious when people claim to be pro-life and write frequently about the need to add other issues to the pro-life cause, but fail to speak out when it is their political party blocking a pro-life cause.
I don’t write this to condemn, but to challenge pro-life progressives. You are right to ask for consistency among those claiming the pro-life label.
You are right that being pro-life should mean more than being against abortion. But being pro-life can never mean anything less than being against abortion.
To achieve a culture that values all lives, we need your voice. But if you cannot stand up and use that voice to speak against abortion of viable babies who feel pain in the womb, you do not get to lecture on what it means to be “pro-life.”