Anti-abortion is not the same as pro-life
This past weekend I was sitting in a large conference room listening to leaders talk about some recent hot topics happening in our nation when a man sharing about his space in the political sphere said the following:
“I am pro-life, but I’m also all about prison reform and so people are confused on where I stand politically.”
I wrote down what he said so I could think about it some more, because it felt confusing, at least to me. But then again, so do most of the “pro-life” messages being sharing these days. Let me expand:
As the mother of two children with Down syndrome, and as a fierce and dedicated advocate and voice in the Down syndrome community, hundreds of people bring to my attention anything happening in the news or any inspiring videos or posts that relate to Down syndrome. As of late, there has been some legislation around abortion when it comes to an in-utero diagnosis. Some “pro-life” folks have been working hard to pass laws which make sure women cannot chose to terminate a pregnancy because of an in-utero Down syndrome diagnosis.
Look, I am very much pro-life in the sense that I am anti-abortion. And when a person with Down syndrome is not given the opportunity for life merely because of their diagnosis, it especially grieves my soul, not to mention it causes immense harm to humanity as a whole. Along with being anti-abortion I am pro-life in every sense of the word which, in these circumstances, means I am pro-Down syndrome from conception to grave. Yet I find the “pro-life” people who are throwing around viral videos of adult advocates who have Down syndrome as a way to push their own political agenda, or who narrowly focus on pursing laws which protect the unborn with a Down syndrome diagnosis, less about being pro-life and more about being anti-abortion. Here’s why, pro-life goes beyond the womb and if we care about people with Down syndrome while they are in the womb then we have to care about them once they are out of the womb. If we call ourselves pro-life then we need to make sure we are doing all we can so that those who are born with Down syndrome have access to all the spaces that people without Down syndrome have access to.
Pro-life means working on laws that will require schools to change their practices so people with Down syndrome are given the supports necessary to have access to the same spaces that people without Down syndrome have access to. It means working with our communities and law makers towards fair wages for people with Down syndrome in the work place. It means doing what it takes to create an inclusive and accessible environment in our churches. It makes me wonder why so many “pro-life” people see the importance of making sure a child with Down syndrome is born but do little, if anything, to make sure that same child is given an equitable amount of space in this world once they enter it.
We cannot say we are “pro-life” and only care for the unborn. If we are pro-life then we must care equally for the born. And as a person deeply connected to the Down syndrome community, I do not see an equal amount of energy or attention put towards making sure people with Down syndrome are given the same human rights as people without Down syndrome.
Pro-life means we care for the unborn and we care for the born.
Which brings me back to the statement the man made about feeling he was contradicting himself when he said he was both “pro-life” and pro-prison reform. This felt confusing to me because in my world view, pro-prison reform is pro-life.
If we are going to call ourselves pro-life then we don’t get to pick and choose which lives, we are for and which lives we are going to ignore. Pro-life is pro-life which means we should be as upset about the way our prisons are run as we are about a law which allows women to terminate their pregnancy after 24 weeks.
If we are pro-life, then we need to take action to help the millions of refugees who are fleeing for their lives and unable to find safety within our country because they are not allowed in. And we need to be caring about the lives of those at our boarders more than we care about a wall to keep them out. Pro-life is seeing the lives of our educators and our students as more important than our right to own a gun. Prioritizing our own sense of security and safety is a step away from being holistically pro-life.
People before politics,
Life before nation,
Loving on, caring for and protecting both the born and the unborn,
This my friends is holistic pro-life.
When you think about being “pro-life” and the only connection you make is with abortion, then I would challenge you to stop calling yourself pro-life and instead say you are anti-abortion. For when we care about, stand up for and speak up for both the unborn andthe born, only then can we truly call ourselves Pro-Life.