When I hear the phrase “pro-life,” I think of Amelia Bedelia, a character in a children’s book series written by author Peggy Parish. Amelia takes everything quite literal. When someone says that they are pro-life, in a literal sense, which says that everything living matters to that person. They care for all of the tapestry of life, which includes humans, plants, animals, the environment, and the many forms of life. Personally I am offended that the term pro-life has been taken over by those that would have us believe pro-life refers only to the life of a fetus and for those of us that also believe in choice would not be considered pro-life!
Can a person say they are pro-life and still believe and support hate and war? One hundred sixty million people have died in wars in 20th and 21st centuries. What about the children all over the world? When a person says they are pro-life, I would like to ask them what they are doing for the 153 million orphans in the world (400,500 in foster care in he United States). Doesn’t pro-life also mean caring for those who are suffering from poverty, addiction, and mental illness? There are 200 million people in the world that are unemployed. Hate crimes are on the rise with 293,800 people having suffered in the U.S from hate crime in a year; 1.3 million people with disabilities in the U.S have experienced crimes against them within a year. What is the pro-life person doing for these lives?
Everyone who walks this planet is dependent on the natural resources that our beautiful planet so bountifully provided for us. Sadly when natural resources are taken for granted and abused we all suffer. One would think that someone who claims to be pro-life would take environmental stewardship seriously. Sadly this does not seem to be the case; over the past 40 years wildlife population around the world has decreased 40%, while ocean life decrease of 50%; 434 million people face water scarcity, while 2 billion suffer from hunger. How can someone say they are pro-life while ignoring the reality of our declining resources, safety, health, and well being of all life? The reason is we have allowed the phrase pro-life to become very narrow in its meaning. I support reclaiming the meaning of pro-life to encompass all life.
The reasons that a woman chooses to have an abortion are varied and complex. We cannot possibly know or understand what they are going through unless we listen to their story with an open heart. If we truly want to see a decrease in the number of abortions, we have to embrace unwanted pregnancy in all its complexity. How can we decrease rape, horrendous sex crimes, drug addiction, mental illness, and unhealthy relationships? What about embracing numerous pro-active stances, such as, sex-education, gender and racial equality, teaching clear boundaries for girls and boys? Through promoting respect and equality, we open the dialogue to find solutions for the challenges that humanity faces.
Formerly, as a foster parent I saw first hand the negative impact on children who are “not wanted,” as well as for those trying to help the child. Sadly children that are told or given the message that they are unwanted often believe they are “bad” and act out in ways that are harmful. Regrettably mental health resources have declined, leaving many without the help that would change the course of their life, while leaving society to foot the bill of these broken lives. How much greater it would be to provide services up front then to pay for bad behaviors and crimes that could have been avoided. Those of us who really care about humanity, in all of its wonders, have the right to say that WE ARE pro-life and we believe in the freedom and rights of all.
Note: A big thank you to Roger Derrough for the editing of this blog.