Bioethics

You’re Not Really Pro-Life Unless...

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Author Amy K. Hall Published on 12/05/2014

The objection that pro-life advocates or organizations aren’t really pro-life because they don’t also advocate [fill in the blank] is one you’ll encounter. Scott Klusendorf responds to this “single issue objection” in The Case for Life:

How does it follow that because pro-life advocates oppose the unjust killing of innocent human beings, they must therefore take personal responsibility for solving all of life’s ills?

Speaking at a pro-life convention in Alberta, a local cleric chastised pro-lifers for focusing too narrowly on abortion when they ought to consider broader “life issues” such as occupational safety, AIDS, poverty, and capital punishment. The result, the cleric said, is a “fractured Christian witness that hurts the cause.”

The cleric is typical of many on the political left who insist that because pro-life advocates oppose the willful destruction of an innocent human being, they must therefore assume responsibility for society’s other ills. In other words, you are not truly pro-life unless you treat the deforestation of the Amazon with the same moral intensity that you do the unjust killing of a human fetus. This is careless thinking and highly unfair to those who take abortion seriously.

Imagine the gall of saying to the Canadian Cancer Society, “You have no right to focus on curing cancer unless you also work to cure AIDS, heart disease, and diabetes.” Or try telling the American Heart Association, “You cannot reasonably oppose cardiac arrest unless you fund research aimed at stopping all loss of life.” Ridiculous indeed, but how is this any different from what the cleric told pro-life advocates?

Consider what he is demanding. Local pro-life groups must take their already scarce resources and spread them even thinner fighting every social injustice imaginable. This would be suicide for those opposed to abortion As Frederick the Great once allegedly said, “He who attacks everywhere attacks nowhere”...

Given a choice, I’d rather pro-lifers focus on at least one great moral issue than waste their precious resources trying to fix all of them.

I think part of what’s behind this objection is ignorance. There are many people who are unaware of the multitude of local, national, and international ministries out there addressing crisis pregnancies, single mothers, poverty, prison issues, human trafficking, disaster relief, religious freedom, education for the poor, etc., etc., etc. No one person can, or should, be intensely involved in all of them at the same time. This is why we have the body of Christ. The eye does his job, the ear does his job, and both are needed. (If you ask the person expressing this objection to measure his own life and causes according to his “you must give equal time to every issue” standard, he might more quickly see your point.)

And ultimately, for many people who make this kind of objection, no amount of service on the part of a pro-lifer will be enough, as illustrated by this classic interaction a caller had with Greg.