Monday, July 18, 2011

What It Means to Be Pro-Life (aQ&A)

You asked:

And this is my response.

What It Means To Be Pro-Life
It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish. - Mother Teresa
I wonder, since I haven’t done anything to deliberately invite such a message, if you’re one of the pro-abortion advocates who periodically messages any and all pro-lifers on Tumblr to draw them into pointless arguments and successively nasty messages. It doesn’t really matter, but I did wonder. I hope you’re not.

Whatever your motivation, you should know I’ve given a great deal of thought to your questions. I’ve heard them before, and will likely hear them again, so I’ve had ample time to consider my position and why I am confident it is both true and just. Therefore, I will answer your questions thoroughly, which is why this is going to be a bit long. Please click the read more link.

[Also, I should probably mention: TRIGGER WARNING for rape.]
Perhaps you’ve heard the following arguments before, perhaps not, but I want to be thorough. I’ll make some general points first, and then, with the necessary underpinnings established, address your individual questions.
Life is the right of every child, not a special privilege for the fortunate, the planned, and the perfect. - Catholic Life Guard
I am pro-life for one simple reason: Abortion is murder. But we should examine what that statement means, because this is not, as some abortionists want to claim, a “side” issue or red herring. It is the issue. If it were not, there wouldn’t be any debate at all. As it is, there are only two options:
Abortion either takes a human life or it does not. If not, then abortion should be no different from plastic surgery. If it does, then abortion is prenatal murder. - Joe Healy
There are many kinds of killing. We kill animals for food, enemies in war, and attackers in self-defense. Depending on the circumstances, all of these are moral reasons to kill. Murder is the one type of killing specifically condemned by traditional morality and civil law, because murder is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. The universal condemnation of murder rests on two principles: life is the ultimate good, indeed the first good on which all others are based, and human life is worth protecting. Murder is therefore intrinsically wrong, which means it is wrong everywhere, all the time, no matter what. It is a violation.

The unborn children of human beings are also human beings. “Unborn” doesn’t mean “potential.” It means child-inside-the-womb. Despite common interpretation of the popular idiom, when a woman is pregnant she isn’t “going” to have a baby. She has a baby. She is “going to have a baby” in the sense that “this baby will come out of the womb in 9 months.” This is an undeniable biological fact. Therefore, the most aware and consistent pro-abortion arguments try to argue that unborn children are not “persons” and therefore not deserving of the full protection of the law. This is a “slippery slope” argument that leads to the likes of Peter Singer defending the enforced murder of handicapped persons and debating whether a sleeping person still counts as as a “person.” This is a sick and twisted worldview in which personhood is reduced the ability of an individual to be a consumer. Life, humanity, and logic have no place in such a philosophy.

It is also worth noting that whenever the word “person” is redefined in history, it is always to the advantage of a group that wants to take away someone else’s rights. For slave owners, people with non-white skin weren’t persons. For Nazis, Jews weren’t persons. General culture and medical textbooks alike recognized the humanity and personhood of unborn human beings until, in the furor after Rove v. Wade, it became legally and politically incorrect to do so. Even the Hippocratic Oath required doctors to refuse to perform abortions.

The burden of proof is on the woman or man who wants to murder a child. They must prove that the dismemberment and death of the genetically distinct, growing organism in the mother’s womb, the natural result of sexual intercourse, has no humanity worth protecting.
No one has “proven” that because it cannot be proven.

You probably radically disagree with me so far. Very well. But for the sake of fair argumentation, briefly suspend your disbelief and follow me to the logical conclusion of these premises: that an unborn child is just as much of a human being worth protecting as an infant, toddler, kindergartner, teenager, and adult. I ask you: What “reason” can possibly justify taking that person’s life? It is their life, not yours. You do not have the power to make that “choice.” 

Ah, you’ll say, but minors can’t legally make decisions for themselves, their parents must. Exactly. And what law would exonerate or praise a parent for ripping apart their infant, toddler, or teenager? For scalding them to death with chemicals? This is as brutal as it sounds. Those are the methods of abortion, which cause very real pain for the unborn child in his or her last moments of life.

No law or person would praise a parent for such a crime, as the recent case of Casey Anthony shows. Yet if Casey Anthony had had an abortion, it would not have been news. She would just be considered one of the millions of “enlightened” people who believe that the more helpless a child is, the more permissible it is to take that child’s life.

You asked, “Why do you think that women should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against their will?”
The answer is, I don’t. Sex leads to babies. That is its biological purpose. Babies are a natural consequence of sex. Any educated woman knows this and therefore by freely engaging in sex risks pregnancy. But there’s birth control, you’ll argue. Yes, there is. And any educated women knows that all birth control is fallible. It will fail. It’s just a matter of time. The only 100% way to not get pregnant or an STD is abstinence.

But there’s rape, you’ll say. What about women who are impregnated through rape?
I hope you’re reading very, very closely and paying strict attention, because next to the statement that abortion is murder, this is the single most heartfelt and true thing I can tell you: There is a special circle of hell reserved for rapists. Prison is too lenient for them, death too good, annihilation too clean. I hope and pray that rapists spend an eternity experiencing the inexpressible horror they put innocent people through. And make no mistake, all victims of rape are innocent. No one is ever, ever, “asking for it,” despite what our rape culture tells you. No one deserves to be victimized that way. No one deserves the consequences of being raped.
And that includes the innocent children conceived in rape.

To say this is an unpopular opinion is to make the understatement of the decade. I am aware of this. But popularity does not determine truth. Why, well-meaning people ask in horror, should the poor woman be forced to suffer any more? There is only one legitimate response. Why does one crime justify another? It’s a cliché because it’s true: two wrongs don’t make a right. Rape does not justify murder. (This does not, as I made clear above by defining “killing” and “murder,” include circumstances of self-defense.)

You said, “Just because a woman happens to be pregnant doesn’t mean that she’s mature or responsible enough to care for the fetus growing inside of her. And do you really want an immature, irresponsible woman to eventually be trusted with the life of a child, after it’s born?” What about child abuse?

I agree. Becoming a mother does not automatically make a woman a capable or qualified caregiver. But since an unborn child is still a child, being pregnant means a woman is a mother, whether she likes it or not. Her decisions affect the life of her child from the moment of its conception. Some mothers play Mozart, read books out loud, and tell their child how much he or she is loved. Some mothers drink until the baby is born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. And some mothers murder their children, inside or outside the womb.

This is tragic. All child abuse is tragic. It’s incomprehensible to me that pro-lifers must work to prove how much we recognize this. The premise of the pro-life position is not “any life is better than none.” The premise of the pro-life position is the right to life applies to all human beings. Only once a human being has that right guaranteed is it possible to talk about and secure quality of life. Which we must, and do.

I see lots of talk on Tumblr about how people would take the pro-life position more seriously if pro-lifers did more than just try to close abortion centers: if they worked to improve the adoption system, to secure safe and loving homes for children, to end child abuse, to support pregnant mothers, to offer alternatives to abortion, to provide love and sympathy, to end rape and rape culture 

And I agree. Being pro-life doesn’t stop at opposing the murder of children. It means working to improve, to make possible, a good quality of life for mothers, children, and fathers. It means loving your neighbor as yourself, treating those in need as we ourselves would want to be treated. It means going into battle every day against human rights abuses and fighting with prayer, words, education, and legal action. It means understanding that life is sacred and must be treated as such. We don’t do this because we want to be cool, or popular, or liked, or loved, or powerful. Doing this prevents us from being any of those things. We do it because it is the only possible moral action in a world drunk on death and violence, a world that glorifies selfishness as truth and tolerance as agreement, a world that worships anarchy in the name of freedom.

You said, “Sometimes death is preferable to life,” and “That’s why people kill themselves, and that’s why abortions are necessary: because not all lives are worth living.” You also said, it’s not true that “with Jesus, life is always worth living,” and,“simply believing in Christ won’t solve your problems, especially if those problems are psychological.” These claims, and therefore their answers, are intertwined, so I will address them as such.

The only part of that with which I will categorically disagree is your disagreement that life isn’t always worth living, even with Jesus. The reason for that should become clear shortly.

“Not all lives are worth living” can be a true statement, but that does not justify an immoral, intrinsically wrong action, such as murder. When that statement is true, it’s not because life itself is not valuable. Lives are what people make of them, and people, being fallen and fallible, sometimes make horrible choices. Some people bring misery on themselves and others have it forced on them, but there is no such thing as a private sin. My evil affects you just as yours affects me. Your misery is mine and mine is yours. The pursuit of happiness, of lives worth living, is and must always be a social pursuit. Which is why it is completely false to claim that no one can legislate morality. Of course we can. We must. We do it all the time.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Life is not listed first by accident. Without the absolute, secure, guaranteed right to life, we cannot exercise liberty or pursue happiness. Parents who get abortions and the “doctors” who perform them make value judgments about the life of the child they kill. But it is not their life to make that decision about, as discussed above.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the Star Trek: Next Generation episode “The Masterpiece Society.” The Enterprise encounters a society crafted to “perfection” by genetic engineering. Geordi La Forge, the brilliant engineer of the Enterprise, was born blind. He wears a special VISOR to mimic sight. Ironically, it turns out that the technology in his VISOR is what will save that “perfect” planet from impending doom. Consider these two dialogues:
Geordi: Oh, that’s perfect.
Hannah Bates: What?
Geordi: If the answer to all of this is in a VISOR created for a blind man who never would have existed in your society. No offense intended. 

Geordi: So - guess if I had been conceived on your world, I wouldn’t even be here now, would I?
Hannah Bates: No.
Geordi: No. I’d have been… terminated, as a fertilized cell.
Hannah Bates: It was the wish of our founders that no one have to suffer a life with disabilities.
Geordi: Who gave them the right to decide whether or not I should be here? Whether or not I might have something to contribute?  

(It doesn’t matter whether the writers of the episode deliberately meant to oppose abortion or not. The point stands.)

As far as your last clause goes, you’re partially right. Believing in Christ doesn’t necessarily solve your problems, especially medical problems like blindness or mental illness. But it is categorically unprovable (and ignorant) to claim absolutely that having faith in Jesus Christ can’t, doesn’t, or won’t “solve your problems.” For one thing, it depends on what kind of “problems” we’re talking about.

In order to understand where I’m coming from, a few clarifications need to be made. Having faith in Christ does not mean, as some of those “devout fundamentalists” you mentioned sometimes like to claim, simply expressing that one has faith and then expecting smooth sailing until death. Having faith in Christ is a way of life, often a difficult way of life. The word “Christian” means “little Christ,” and the world loves us as it loved Him: to death. In other words, the point of believing is to become sanctified, to become like Christ: to have faith as He did, to do good works as He did, to enter heaven like He did. People who convert to Christianity and truly begin to live the life of a Christian often find that many of their problems lessen or disappear: their marriages improve, they’re happier, they feel as if their lives has meaning and purpose. Which they do, as do all lives, whether the person living it realizes it or not, because Christ is the author of Life and made Himself, True Happiness, its point and purpose. This doesn’t mean that Christians with medical problems such as mental illness, which I’m assuming is what you meant by psychological problems, necessarily instantly recover upon conversion, though miracles have happened and continue to. One of my good friends is a devout Catholic who suffers from depression. What it does mean is that, for the Christian who truly understands what it means to follow Christ, yes, in fact, with Jesus life is always worth living, because it is love that makes life worth living, and Jesus Christ is the author of Love. It is His very essence.
Following from that, as a Catholic, in a limited respect I do agree with your first statement, that sometimes death is preferable to life. Take martyrdom for example. Martyrdom, in its original, technical sense, is what happens when a Christian dies defending their faith, usually for refusing to denounce Christ. It was quite popular back in the day when Christianity was novel and illegal, and I suspect it will be again in the future, since true Christianity is still novel and quite likely to be illegal again. Martyrdom was both feared and desired by Christians because to be a perfect Christian means to imitate Christ, and the model of action he gave us to imitate is cruciform love, that is, love that goes the way of the cross:
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13.)
The reward for living the Way, Truth, and Life which is Christ is eternal bliss in Heaven. Let me put it another way:

So, yes, in a sense, death is sometimes preferable to life, if by death you mean “separation of the soul from the body,” that necessary rite of passage to enter heaven. Because human beings are immortal, as any Christian who knows their Bible can tell you: all persons will live forever. Souls are immortal. Bodies will be resurrected. Life is everlasting. Those who choose suicide are seeking not death, but annihilation. And yes, if by death you mean self-sacrifice for a greater good, of which Christ and the martyrs are the preeminent example (and, to continue fictional analogies, Spock and Harry Potter are also good examples.) In short, death is preferable to life when death serves life. But sacrificing others for the “greater good” or for one’s own selfish motives does not serve life. Sacrificing others means treating people as things, which the origin of most sins and the source of every human rights violation. Including abortion.

Lastly: You make suicide sound like a legitimate option, but it is not. It is a tragedy. It is a failure of love. The martyr dies for love; the suicide dies for lack of it. They are opposed morally and eternally. One is selfish, and the other is selfless. It needs to be very clear at this point that I am not blaming those who commit suicide or the people close to them for the tragedy of suicide. Finding out who is at “fault” for a suicide may be necessary and ultimately beneficial in individual cases, but it is not my place to make sweeping generalizations about the state of the souls or consciences involved and I would not dream of doing so. This is the meaning of Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that you may not be judged.” What I am doing by describing the nature of the act of suicide is challenging your implied assertion that suicide is a good and necessary form of death, like abortion. Suicide, like abortion, is an act of murder. Like abortion, suicide is a tragic act that love, education, and quality of life can and should prevent. And making that love, education, and quality of life available to prevent the murder of others and self is what being pro-life is all about.

In conclusion: I’ve argued that being pro-life, like being a follower of Christ, is an all-encompassing way of life based on absolute, knowable, moral truths about the value and meaning of human life. Therefore the pro-life position, properly understood and lived out, does not deserve the infamy its mudslinging opposition preaches. We are pro-life because abortion is murder and we will not be complicit in, silent about, or supportive of, infanticide.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn.


SOURCE: I found this Question and Response @

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