Heart in the Clouds

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What makes a person "Pro-Life?"

I hesitated (more than a couple of times) before clicking "Publish" on this blog post. 

There are lots of questions and thoughts I've had swirling around in my mind over the last while about the topic of abortion and what being "pro-life" really means. Attending the March for Life earlier this week brought some of them to the forefront for me, and my husband told me I should blog about them. So here I am. I'm working through my feelings on this topic.

Some people may be offended. Some may not. Some may agree with me. Others won't. I know that, and that's okay. 

This week, I took part in the March for Life. It takes place every year in January to commemorate the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. There were around 500,000 people there (despite what the news media said...or didn't say).

I bet if you asked around at the rally, most of the people there would say that they are "pro-life." But I think if you look at it realistically, a majority of those people are really "anti-abortion," not "pro-life." 

There's a difference. 

You see, nominal pro-lifers--usually Conservatives (but not always)--tout the sanctity of human life. However, I can't reconcile the fact that many are so passionate about protecting an unborn child, but they are fine with murdering that child when he's grown into a criminal on death row. That's not pro-life. 

A human life is a human life. If we say we truly believe in the sanctity of human life, that means we don't get to pick and choose between who we save and who we murder. 

For the record, there is no difference in my heart between those who are pro-abortion and those who are pro-death penalty. You're killing a human being either way. I love you, but I don't agree with you.

It's that whole "thou shalt not kill" thing that I take seriously, I guess. I don't believe it's right to return evil for evil.

Yes, I know it's the law in some states, but that doesn't make it right in my heart. Yes, when you break the law in a particular state, you bear the consequences that come with that crime. If the consequence is death, it's death. Not much you can say to that...but, again, that doesn't make the issue right in my heart, and I refuse to vote for someone who boasts about the number of executions his state has carried out (I won't name names). 

(Aside from all of this is the number of death row inmates who have been found not be guilty of the crimes they had supposedly committed. How many innocent people have been murdered because of our need for the "eye for an eye"?)

I was having this "pro-life vs. anti-abortion" discussion with one of my friends the other day and she asked me how I would feel if one of those murderers killed my child. If I'm honest, my first instinct as a mother would be to kill him. That's my vengeful human nature. I would probably hold hate in my heart. I would probably try to think of the most horrifying, painful ways I could carry out my revenge. That's my sinful nature, though.

That's not what God would want me to do.

I hope that if something like that were to ever happen to me or to someone I love that I would eventually find God's grace to be sufficient. I hope that I would realize that I have been forgiven much. I hope that I would allow God to love through me, despite my urges to exact revenge. I know I would hurt deeply for the rest of my life, but I hope that I would at least be able to let go of the desire to return evil for evil.

On top of the issue of "pro-life vs. anti-abortion", many of those protesting don't seem to think of all the issues that surround abortion. 

Okay, so we change a teenage girl's mind and convince her not to abort her child. Then we pat ourselves on the back for our valiant efforts and drop the situation there. 

What happens to this child? 

If his mother keeps him, does he live in poverty? Is he on welfare? Does he have access to health care? Does he have the opportunity for a quality education? 

If his mother decides she can't keep him, where does he go--into an already overrun foster care system? If he stays too long in the system, we all know it's unlikely he will be adopted. The sad truth.

We want to save the babies, but not take care of them as they grow up.

So YAY! Good on us for saving a human life...but, truthfully, we aren't doing anyone any favors because we aren't making sure that child we "saved" has the opportunity for a decent life outside the womb. We "save" him, but then we vote on issues that doom him to a life that is less than we'd accept for our own children.

During the rally, people were talking about Tim Tebow and the fact that he was saved from abortion, as though his mother's story is in any way the typical abortion story. It's not. He's the Christian champion du jour, but the fact that his mother--a missionary--didn't abort him is really not that surprising. 

Tim Tebow seems to be a great guy. I'm not against him as a person. But he was not an unwanted pregnancy. His mother wasn't a unmarried teenage girl. He wasn't the consequence of an unprotected one night stand or a rape.

The latter are the people who REALLY are at the center of the abortion issue. Asking a missionary to keep her wanted pregnancy and asking a scared teenage girl to keep her unwanted pregnancy are two opposite situations.

Another blogger used the term "pro-birth"...because that's really what many people in the pro-life movement seem to be. It seems that our concern for the child stops at birth, when he or she is no longer the adorable fetus-in-distress we envisioned when we donned our anti-abortion superhero capes.

Abortion has been legal for decades and, if we're honest with ourselves, there's no end in sight at this point. I really don't vote at all based on the pro-life campaign topic because there are so many other issues that are relevant to right now and CAN change the life of a child who is spared from an abortion (or change the lives of MY children, for that matter). 

I will always peacefully protest abortion. I don't believe it's the right choice, even though I know that God has given everyone the right to choose.

So this is my challenge. If you call yourself a "pro-lifer", think about what you mean when you apply that term to yourself. Are you REALLY "pro-life" or are you really just "anti-abortion"? They are two very different things.

What would it mean for you to truly commit to being "pro-life"? Realize that being "pro-life" means that you believe that you desire to apply God's mercy to those who are innocent and to those who are guilty. God's mercy doesn't discriminate between the innocent and the guilty.

The guilty bear the consequences of their actions (as we all do), but is it really right to spare one life and end another?

If you are truly pro-LIFE, when you vote, think about how the issues you vote on will affect the lives of the children you're trying to save. How will you vote on welfare? How will you vote on health care and Medicare? How will you vote on issues that affect the economy and the future job market? How will you vote on education?

As you can see, my thoughts surrounding this issue are a little black and white. I know there are gray areas to every issue, but I feel strongly that there really is a line between pro-life and anti-abortion. I won't vote Conservative just because a candidate says they are pro-life. I will vote on issues. How that will go this time around, I don't yet know, but I am keeping my eyes open and not blindly following after someone just because of their supposed stance on abortion.

I'm praying that God guides me. That's all I can do.


  1. I agree 100% that our "job" as pro-lifers can not end when the baby is born. Too many people like the warm and fuzzies but aren't willing to do the tough work of helping the poor/uncomfortable/unpopular mom and child.
    It's not enough to be pro-life while the mom is pregnant. It has to continue through that child's life.

    I, personally, have been able to separate capital punishment from abortion but I respect your opinion and your reasons why you don't. But I am only okay with capital punishment when the verdict is beyond ANY doubt. If there is a single whisk of doubt, it should be life in prison. We cannot execute an innocent person... ever.

  2. i read another blog a couple of months ago along the same lines and it really, really made me think. because, truthfully, it never occurred to me to think about what would happen to the babies if they weren't aborted. i talked to my mom about it and she asked if i would adopt. i told her that if i knew of a girl/woman who was thinking about abortion, or if a girl/woman came to me and said she was going to abort her baby if we didn't adopt it, the answer would be 100% yes, i would adopt the baby. i think you're right. people just have blinders on or, like me, just never thought far enough past the birth of the baby.

    when it comes to voting, i do look across the board. it matters to me what their stance is on abortion, but it's definitely not the only thing i look at.

    and i agree about the tim tebow thing. it's great that his mom didn't abort him, but you can't compare her circumstances and options to a teenage girl's.

    i don't know how i feel about the death penalty. i never really have. what you said makes complete sense though.

  3. Well spoken. I think a lot of people have never thought of it from this perspective. I know I had not until a friend of mine started asking me what I thought about the death penalty some years back. She really made me think. It's hard to realize you might need to check yourself when you grow up listening to Hank Jr, LOL! Thank you for sharing. Good stuff. I'm going to share your post with her. :)

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this. I had never really thought of it as two seperate issues. This post has really given me alot to think about and ponder on.

  5. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure & faultless is this: to look after orphans & widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

    (BTW: Thanks for quoting me, Sarah. :) )

    Yeah, there is a massive difference between being supposedly "Pro-Life," or merely "Anti-Abortion" or "Pro-Birth."

    Certainly your average teen girl who made a mistake is in an almost identical situation as a widow. The same for a child born in this circumstance. I get more than a bit tired of people caring enough that this child be born, but then walking away because it is no longer their or societies' responsibility.

    We feel mighty self-satisfied and "Religious" by our voting records, but our lack of concern after that only shows it to be an empty ritual.

  6. Sara, it’s great that you are thinking of these things. Few people ever do. The problem with your logic as I see it is that you are confusing God’s requirement that we forgive those who sin against us with God’s requirement that government be his instrument on earth to administer justice. We tend to separate out the God of justice of the Old Testament with the God of Love of the New Testament, but they are the same God. The OT deals more with nations and the NT deals more with individuals. The commandment that you quoted is more accurately “You shall not murder.” The Hebrew word refers to an unjust killing. Taking life in war, in self-defense, and yes, even by the government in capital punishment, is never condemned in the Bible. King David was described as a man after God’s own heart, but he killed thousands. He only “murdered” one, however, and for that God did punish him. Yet, God was adamantly opposed to those nations who sacrificed their children (and in some case, their pregnant women) to idols like Molech and Chemosh. He said such a thing “never entered” his mind and he commanded the Israelites to wipe them out entirely. Harsh to our modern ears. But governments are not called to forgive. Individuals are. That is a great distinction.

    As to welfare. I used to work for the Family Support Division of the DA’s office. Most of the parents were on welfare and I have to say I think the way the system is now is a travesty. Government should not be in the business of providing welfare because 1) It is completely inefficient. It takes $100 of bureaucracy to get $10 worth of groceries into the hands of a needy person. 2) It encourages poor and immoral choices. A single mother gets more money by staying single than by being married. 3) The government cannot provide the support and accountability that can be given through private organizations and churches. I have worked with some outstanding orgs like Habitat for Humanity that are making real improvements in people’s lives. I also remember a 24-year-old GRANDMOTHER who had been on welfare. Her 12-year-old daughter had a baby and she brought her in to our office to get on welfare too. What would have happened if she had gone to a church or non-profit for help? Maybe she would have gotten the real help she needed, rather than just financial support to continue making poor choices and perpetuating a terrible cycle. (I have personally gone out of my way to help several unwed moms in many ways and will continue to do so. I do also support organizations that care for the lives (not just the births) of people.) Governments do a lousy, inefficient job.

    Health care is a similar thing. I worked at a hospital in the medical records department. There was a woman on Medicare who came to the ER every single week the entire year I worked there. There was never anything wrong with her, but her ER bill was atrocious. She didn’t care because she didn’t pay it. I did, through my taxes. I also lived overseas for 2 years and I saw the results of socialized medicine. Sure you could get free care … but you had to wait in line for hours literally and then find out that they didn’t have what you needed. Again, governments do a lousy, inefficient job.

    I think we’ve come full circle on this. Just like governments aren’t called to forgive, they are not called to be loving or compassionate. Governments should not be in the business of welfare or health care because they can’t do it right. Those require the loving, compassionate involvement of individuals. God has called us as individuals (and obviously groups of individuals like churches and non-profs) to reach out and minister, support, train, reprove, those who are in need. Governments aren’t equipped or called to do so and they fail miserably when they try.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. --Dara 

  7. Thanks for linking my blog to your post. :)

  8. Your belief lines up with the Biblical line of thought on this issue. The question you so boldly raise here is one that has dogged my mind for a long time. And, in fact, remains alarmingly relevant to the American, and Western, culture in this post modern, synthesizing 21st century.
    Your insight that most of these folks may be anti-abortion rather than pro-life rings across the divide with shocking truth. The Christian life is decidedly pro-life.
    To be anti- is actually to be on the side of opposing, against and so therefore tends to be a negative thing, whereas to profess the Christian way is to be positive, to stand for something, and definitely pro-life.
    The Christian message works to heal divides and chasms created by such devilish attitudes as opposing, standing against and fighting. Why? Because opposition always leads to violence of some sort, and violence is not a Biblical response to any issue we face as human beings trying to make society.
    As Christians we face so many ethical and moral dilemmas bedeviling this old world. How do we respond? The Biblical implication is to be pro-active and to propagate the righteous way rather than pick the darkness and attack it in opposition.
    Great writing in your blog post, and excellent thinking. The Christian is called to be of a sound mind - intelligent, questioning and exercising faith with critical thinking very much in the forefront of living, a la the Berians.

  9. good post, sarah :) it angered me recently when people were throwing around photos of dismembered body parts from terminated babies on f/b. clearly in blissful ignorance that many people on their f/b would have had a termination, rightly/wrongly, + the traumatic impact these photos would have had on them (maybe that was their intention, but hope not). *women aren't stupid* they know what they're doing. they are allowed to make choices. they sometimes feel they have no other option. also, many women have had this procedure after a miscarriage. sure they heart the photos too ;) abortion laws are in place for a reason. if they weren't there, we would be facing hundreds of thousands of women participating in botched back street abortions.

    it's also unimaginable for me, as a british citizen, to get my head around there still being a death penalty in some states of the us. :s + from your comment feed it seems people can really distinguish between the takings of life. crazy.

    i do remember a friend telling me about reading full frontal feminism, and learning that mississippi had banned vibrators but allow people to buy guns without a background check!