Sunday, June 13, 2021

A Real Pro-Life Agenda

                                                                                                              written 6 June 2021

                                                                                                        published 13 June 2021


            I am pro-life!  

            Life is defined as the ability to grow and respond to change.  Higher forms of life have a finite lifespan, the interval between birth and death, so death is linked with life.  As a human, other lifeforms must die for me to live, so before eating I give thanks to those who gave their lives that I might be nourished.  This reminds me of my relationship to these other beings, with gratitude and respect. 

            I am grateful to be alive, and appreciate the radical diversity of life on Earth.  I believe that all life arises from the same source of energy and consciousness, and that working to benefit others is the same as working to benefit myself: the core of the Golden Rule.  Because I am pro-life, I want a society that nourishes life, prioritizing a healthy environment over economic excess.  Because I am pro-life, I want a society that nourishes all people, providing universal health care, good education, equal justice under the law, and a robust economic social net.  

            However, human population has exploded, more than tripling in my lifetime.  Overpopulation is driving thousands of species to extinction while billions of people live in desperate poverty.  The life-support systems of our planet are being stressed to the breaking point.  

            Even though total population is still increasing, human birth rates are beginning to decline, partially due to decreasing viability of human sperm as a consequence of our poisoned environment.  Citing planetary concerns and the high cost of raising children, women are choosing to delay starting a family and having fewer children overall, through contraception or abortion.  Thus, each child born can receive greater love, attention, and resources.  

            This feminine empowerment and recognition of our planetary impact is under assault.  In America, some Christians, under a so called "Pro-Life" banner professing concern for the "rights of the unborn" have worked for decades to preclude the legal options for choice with regard to birth, completely ignoring the impact on the resulting child, its family, or the planet.

            To actually honor the unborn, society could give tangible support to every pregnant woman: paid maternity leave, free prenatal care and good nutrition.  If we honor the unborn, why stop at birth?  A real pro-life agenda would include affordable quality child care, ongoing health care and nutrition.  

            What about a woman who decides, for her own reasons, that she doesn't want to raise another child?  If "Pro-Life" advocates were sincere, in addition to normal support for a mother, they would pay the woman as a surrogate and take the child at birth to be adopted by people who are opposed to abortion.

            Wide spread access to affordable contraceptives reduces both unwanted children and abortions.  As Bill Clinton once said, "abortion should be safe, affordable, and rare". But "Pro-Life" advocates also oppose contraception, claiming a person begins at conception, not at birth.  While it is true that growth begins with conception, for about six months the fetus is not autonomous, but dependent and biologically integral with the mother, who is already a person.  Society demands a mother take responsibility for the child, but the "Pro-Life" agenda eliminates her power to determine when to have a child, putting the "rights of the unborn" above the rights of the mother.

            As a religious principle, the "Pro-Life" claim they don't want to pay for abortions, or contribute to a government that does.  This is a fair complaint.  Abortion services could be paid totally by private donations, or with an "opt in" check box on federal income tax returns, like campaign finance support.  It is striking that this same religious impulse is not applied to governmental support for war and weapons of mass destruction.  What is not fair is that this moral stance be forced on people who do not agree with them, causing untold suffering.  

            Of course, none of the pro-life programs suggested above are supported by abortion foes, because they aren't really pro-life, but only "forced birthers" with no real concerns for quality of life of the resulting child.  Despite the lofty rhetoric, by denying both abortion and contraception, their agenda is just a deeply misogynistic, punitive morality.  A majority of Americans are opposed to such narrow-minded thinking.  Unfortunately, Republican packing of the Supreme Court may preclude the will of the people.