I’m pro-life. People take that to mean that I believe that abortion is wrong. And that’s true. Abortion is wrong. But, pro-life means so much more than that. I believe in a consistent ethic of life. If you Google this term, you’ll find a lot of Catholic writing on the subject and very little evangelical writing, but I challenge evangelicals to take a long, hard look at our ethics of life and consider how consistent we are.
Abortion is wrong because it takes the life of a unique human being. Once that blastocyst has implanted in the uterine wall and we can detect it with a pregnancy test, it is wrong to disrupt it.
Pro-life people are often accused of being pro-birth because our protection of life stops when the baby comes out of the womb. It shouldn’t. Far too many babies are born into poverty, limiting their intellectual, social, and economic growth. We must continue our pro-life ethic to support young families through private and public means. This means food banks and other church and voluntary programs for poor families who don’t qualify for SNAP. The public sector also needs to be involved with making sure that moms and babies still are eligible for services for food, healthcare, and education.
Through the life-cycle, another pro-life concern is health care. Most women qualify for Medicaid if they don’t have private insurance, but as we get older, it can be harder to get insurance with many of the protections of the ACA being removed. And this is a pro-life concern.
Affordable health insurance is a major issue in this country. People regularly don’t get their necessary health care and health screenings because of cost. And this can lead to higher long-term costs and early death. In our grocery store, I regularly see flyers for people raising money for family members' cancer treatment or other medical treatment. It's unacceptable that in a country with our kind of wealth, people are having bar-be-ques in hopes to afford their chemo treatment.
What’s the solution for health care? Just doing more of what we’re doing isn’t the answer. The best option is a single payer health care plan. I support something like what Medicare is doing right now where they allow patients to choose a plan with an insurance company. Another option is Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All which would be a single payer plan without the bureaucratic layer of the health care companies. There are pros and cons to each. But, they would both provide coverage to everyone and that’s what is important.
When we talk about life, we also need to talk about the death penalty. Many Christians are pro-death penalty because it is prescribed in the Old Testament. Remember, though, there are lots of things in the Old Testament law that we don’t do, like stoning disobedient children. When we put someone to death, we are punishing someone with a penalty that only God can mete out. In addition, the death penalty can never be undone. The Innocence Project has helped to exonerate 20 death row inmates. Those 20 people would have been killed for crimes they did not commit. Being pro-life means discouraging the death penalty.
Torture is also something that we cannot allow in a pro-life ethic. Torture removes someone’s dignity and treats them as sub-human. Torture does not respect the Imago Dei in each human. So, yes, torture is a pro-life issue and we cannot accept it.
And, of course, end of life issues are definitely pro-life issues. When a person reaches the end of their natural life, they deserve to die with as much dignity and respect as possible. This means that pain medication and sedation should be used liberally if the person requests. However, this does not mean that euthanasia is morally acceptable. First of all, it is absolutely appalling that some have said that it is OK to euthanize those who cannot give consent, such as those who are intellectually low-functioning or in a medical state where they cannot communicate. Second, it is not acceptable to provide euthanasia for someone who asks for it. Generally, we call suicidality a sign of depression. While I will admit that euthanasia seems, on the face of it, reasonable for someone in chronic pain, I submit that the problem there is the problem is pain management and the treatment is a new pain management treatment plan. Taking life is never the best option. Or even a good option.
Life is a gift from God, one that must be valued and treasured. We should not take it lightly. As Christians, we need to have more than a pro-birth mentality; we need to see and value life throughout the life cycle. Being pro-life means cherishing all life. So let's do that.