What Does It Mean to Be Pro-life?
The definition of being pro-life, as stated by https://www.thefreedictionary.com/, is “advocating the legal protection of human embryos and foetuses, especially by favouring the outlawing of abortion on the ground that it is the taking of a human life.”
But being pro-life is so much more than that!
Being pro-life is not just about opposing abortion. It is also about being in favour of anything that protects and preserves life at all stages, from the moment of conception until natural death. It involves the promotion of life as being precious and cherished. It calls for the nurturing of life of all human beings, young and old, and providing sanctuary in practical ways to those who need it. It entails offering physical and emotional support to those who are suffering or infirm and safeguarding the life of those who are mentally unable to think for themselves.
Being pro-life means just that—for life!
There are many misconceptions about people who are pro-life in today’s society. When someone states that they are pro-life, others automatically assume that they are:
- deeply religious and/or influenced by their belief in God
- opposed to women and their rights
- unsympathetic towards victims of rape and incest
- uncaring about women who find themselves facing an unwanted pregnancy
- unwilling to help people who are suffering
These and other similar views are a very false reflection of who a pro-lifer really is.
A person who is pro-life can be an atheist or a believer. They can be Catholic, or Hindu, or following any other religion—or even no religion at all. The root of respecting life has nothing to do with theological beliefs or non-beliefs. It actually stems from the simple basic fact that every life is precious because it is alive.
And this remains true whether that life is in the womb or outside it; whether young or old; whether physically or mentally ill; whether sick or dying. There is obviously nothing wrong with being religious or believing in God. But it doesn’t automatically make a person pro-life. Loving and protecting life does!
Being in favour of life does not automatically exclude science from the equation either.
On the contrary, pro-lifers support and promote that which science continues to reveal—the main point being that life begins at conception, and therefore it deserves protection and respect from that very point onwards. The advances in science have also offered us an exclusive view of the baby inside the womb. There is also a better understanding of the side effects of birth control medication and the morning after pill on a woman’s body and her reproductive organs. And these may also be a detriment to the process of life at its early stages.
Furthermore, science continues to discover new ways of carrying out medical and routine procedures whilst safeguarding life at all times. New treatments and medications are constantly being identified to help those who are at the mercy of a terminal or debilitating disease. Therefore, science does play a very important part in the pro-life movement, especially when it is used to sustain and save life at all cost.
A pro-lifer seeks the safety and security of the life of every other person other than themselves.
This includes all men and women, whether inside the womb or out of it, at whatever age. Opposing abortion therefore does not mean that a pro-lifer is unaffected by the plight of the young girl or woman who is carrying an unwanted child, or that they do not care about the circumstances, such as rape and incest, that led to the pregnancy. It does not mean that the pro-lifer wants only to save the life of the baby, without thinking about its wellbeing after it is born. It does not entail ignoring the adults in the equation either, especially when abuse and violence is involved.
Opposing abortion means that both the lives of the woman and the unborn child are precious. In fact, many pro-life groups offer pregnancy support through crisis centres, counselling services, adoption agencies, fostering, and many other facilities that will aid the mother in practical and financial ways, as well as ensure the safety of the child.
The concept that abortion is perfectly safe for the mother is far from true.
Besides being in itself anything but a simple procedure, abortion leaves the woman with numerous physical, emotional, and psychological side effects that are largely dismissed. The truth is that women do die from abortion. They sometimes risk losing their fertility. They do end up in emergency rooms with massive complications from the procedure.
Additionally, the psychological harm often does not show up until years later. But then, as countless women testify, it often attacks with a vengeance. This is why pro-lifers support women who are dealing with unplanned pregnancies. This is the reason these women are presented with alternatives to termination—and offered counselling if they did opt for one.
This is why being pro-life means being in favour of women and their wellbeing.
As for the rights of the woman over her body, the pro-life movement accepts and respects the fact that she is entitled to them in full. However, once a baby is conceived, there is no longer one person but two, both of which have rights, the most basic being the right to live. The woman needs to take into consideration that the other person—the child in the womb—also deserves to have rights just as much as she does.
Even if the baby is conceived after rape, he or she is a victim just like its mother. That baby certainly does not deserve to pay for someone else’s crime with its own life. When the child is wanted, the mother is ready to fight for its life and for its rights, even when it’s still inside her womb. Why then should it be any different if the baby is unwanted? All of us, from the moment of conception, deserve a chance to live, to be born, to exist…to just be!
And what about the terminally ill, the infirm, and the disabled?
In all these cases, pro-life groups are more than willing to help promote improvements in palliative care and support for those who need it. Pro-lifers strongly oppose the deliberate ending of someone’s life. This is not because they do not care, but because euthanasia gives rise to a culture of death that makes life disposable.
It may be understandable that when a person is in great pain or is unable to look after even their basic needs on their own, they would want it all to end as soon as possible. In fact, a patient has every right to refuse medical treatment which will only serve to prolong their suffering.
But being deliberately helped to die by those who, by profession, should be saving lives is contradictory and anti-life.
And what about all the instances when euthanasia is used to solve depression? Or because something goes wrong in one’s life? Or even to take away the life of someone who is, or has become, disabled? The popular rhetoric is always “Why shouldn’t I do what I like with my own life?”
But this question completely ignores the fact that euthanasia cases represent a very small number of cases, compared to the hundreds of thousands of cherished people represented by disability groups worldwide, who are all in favour of protecting their vulnerable members.
Palmer Williams summed up the whole pro-life concept in the best possible way.
An Associate Counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice—which focuses on government affairs, sanctity of life, and international law—Williams stated:
“Above all, the pro-life movement is deeply rooted in the fundamental belief that all life, no matter how small or poor or unwanted, is worth protecting.
Those of us who are pro-life fight for the inherent dignity within every human life, no matter what the age or stage of human development. Our advocacy does not end in the delivery room. In fact, that is only where it begins.
To be pro-life is to defend the unborn, the widows, the disabled, and the orphans, like organizations serving those with special needs or helping families adopt orphans. To be pro-life is to serve the least of these in communities next door and across oceans, like organizations who serve the homeless or refugees who have fled war zones. To be pro-life is to build institutions that promote the flourishing of all human beings.”