What is a “culture of life”? How do you define it? When someone speaks of a “culture of life” or “pro-life” agenda, it is usually assumed that abortion is the topic at hand. Abortion is not the only issue that pertains to the sanctity of life. If someone wants to literally be a pro-life voter, there are a wide variety of policies that that moniker supports.
How about starting with an easy one? The death penalty. Is there anything more clearly pro-death? There is no logic in calling yourself “pro-life” when you support the death penalty. If you support the death penalty you are saying that you are morally ok with not only killing people, but letting the (fallible) state decide which people to kill with your blessing. Perhaps someone has other moral reasons they can cite for supporting the death penalty, but they can’t still call themselves “pro-life” with any integrity.
Here’s another gimme – war. War = death, it’s kind of the modus operandi for winning a war. Aside from the direct killing of soldiers by soldiers, with war comes countless life altering tragedies and injuries. The pollution of war equals death to those living things around it. The corruption inside war equals death for those willing to take risks for money or power. The private contractors are let loose to roam lawlessly across the land, bringing violence and oppression. Living in an occupied land means living in fear; simply being alive is not the same as living. Please don’t call yourself pro-life if you support war, especially
pre-emptive ones wars of aggression.
Is it part of a culture of life to allow corporations to pollute our water supplies, harm our animals, disrupt natural systems, and poison our food? Is it life giving to look away as humans are abused and exploited in the name of profit? All life relies on a certain level of purity to our air, land, and water, there is nothing – no industry, no product, no privilege – that makes it acceptable to poison us all. If you don’t believe in protecting the sanctity of nature and those natural systems that sustain life, you are not pro-life.
Universal health care is pro-life. We can live our lives when our basic health care needs are attended to. Unchecked pain, fear of debt, and exclusive access – hallmarks of a health care system that puts profits before patients – is not pro-life (it’s pro-profit). In fact, someone in a dismal health care situation is more likely to consider numbing pain or their reality in an unhealthy way.
Humans are not born to be slaves, we each want to carry on with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When corporations turn us into slaves, or indentured servants, or take away our dignity, or abuse us, or force us to work against our morals, we are alive, yet not. When a company sucks the life out of you so you have nothing for your family, no time for community, and no living wage, they are not working on a pro-life agenda. Like stories you can read from our own history of slavery, the plantation owners were all for more babies, they couldn’t wait for those babies to become commodities. In those stories you can read the anguish of the enslaved parents at bringing another life into the world under hellish conditions, knowing that their offspring will be treated like expendable chattle. An unregulated capitalist dynamic promotes death to humanity.
Guns may be useful in providing sustenance for families – we are at the top of the food chain and all humans (even vegans) have some amount of “death” in their diet (think of the earthworms). It is part of our natural evolution to eat meat, but guns aren’t a part of our natural evolution and they are used for so much more. Guns can and have brought about human death on an epidemic scale. Handguns and automatic weapons are designed to kill people (sure target practice is fun but you don’t need steel bullets to pierce a piece of paper-that is not its end use). Those working to limit the availability of guns and frequency of human death caused by guns would earn the “pro-life” moniker more readily than those that believe all guns should be available and unrestricted. Gun lovers want to be prepared kill; killing is pro-death.
Again, even with acknowledging our omnivorous tendencies, humans often kill animals unnecessarily. Animal testing, environmental devastation, cruelty, or entertainment. If you are a polluter, a trophy hunter, a sadist, an eater of factory farm animals, or a supporter animal testing – you can’t say you are pro-life. There are humane standards for how to treat animals – even how to end their lives if we are going to eat them. Treating animals humanely is pro-life.
The joining of a sperm and egg is a special moment in time – especially if that sperm and egg are going to unite, go full term and become a person. Eggs are fertilized round the globe, round the clock, in every species that procreates via sex. All of those moments are special if they create another being. For some of us, we want to protect all of those zygotes – at least human ones, for others, we want to focus on the living breathing people that have already arrived. Those that are pro-choice may believe in the sanctity of life just as much as those who are anti-abortion; they could also claim the title of “pro-life”.
It is pro-life to help moms-to-be get nutrition and health care.
It is pro-life to help mom-to-be get educated.
It is pro-life to ensure the baby has adequate nutrition and child care.
It is pro-life to see that all families are earning living wages for their work.
It is pro-life to provide education for the child.
It is pro-life to require unpolluted space to raise a family.
It is pro-life to stop war.
It is pro-life to recognize that life is much, much more than anything that could be held in a petri dish.
Anti abortion advocates work for what they believe in, we should respect that they are following their own moral code at the very least. For many of them, the struggle is a spiritual calling, which is an honorable quest. However, a heightened level of sanctimony tends to come with the “pro-life” label and it is part of why this debate is so polarizing. Pro-choice advocate are not the opposite of pro-life, far from it. Many times those same advocates also don’t like war, guns, pollution, or our grave corporate machinery. Recognize that though your idea of life – no matter which “side” of the debate you’re on – does not have a monopoly on supporting life. We need to break this frame and call anti-abortion activists exactly that – unless they want to consider the entire roster of ways our state sanctions killing. Voting “pro-life” means voting in the interest of all living humans, not just one issue.
Pro-choice could be broken down in a similar manner. Both labels, “pro-life” and “pro-choice”, are the products of marketing an idea. They are good hooks, but inaccurate. Let’s use our hearts and brains to talk to one another about these issues important to us.