Is It Possible to be Against Abortion But Not “Pro-Life?”

Opinion   |   Kris Skul   |   Apr 3, 2014   |   9:45AM   |   Washington, DC

This is a follow-up to my March 25 post, “Abortion, Sex Positivity, and the Non-Aggression Principle,” in which I argued that defending the unborn and supporting sexual freedom are not philosophically incompatible. reprinted it under the title “I Am Against Abortion But Pro-Contraception, So Am I Truly Pro-Life?

It’s a rhetorical question, but to be clear, I have never doubted whether I am “truly pro-life.” I was an active member of Students for Life at my alma mater for years. I’ve been to multiple pro-life conferences. I’ve marched in Washington and in various local demonstrations.

prolife12Yet LifeNews’ readership seemed divided.

The disconnect, from what I can tell, is largely a matter of semantics. When I say “I’m pro-life,” I mean I oppose elective abortion. I oppose any deliberate, medically unnecessary act done with the intent to end an unborn human’s life. That’s it. My use of the term is limited to the political arena, where its opposite is not “anti-life” but “pro-choice” (meaning “in favor of legal abortion”).

Particularly among those who are religious, however, opposing abortion is just one part of being pro-life. The phrase “culture of life,” common in Christian outreach, connotes reverence for all human life “from conception to natural death.” Under this definition, anything intended to thwart the natural progression of life—including abortion, capital punishment, and assisted suicide—is “anti-life.” Artificial contraception falls here because it separates sex from its biological purpose. So does homosexuality and other “unnatural” sexual behavior.

Therefore it is conceivable (no pun intended) for someone to be against abortion but not, in the strictest sense, “pro-life.” And if that’s what you mean by “pro-life,” then I’m guilty as charged. I don’t think it’s anyone’s place—not an individual’s, not an organization’s, and certainly not the government’s—to tell rational adults how to conduct themselves sexually. I believe family planning should be left up to the parties involved, providing the chosen method does not entail deliberately ending a life. And I proudly support the LGBT community.

But why is any of that important? Over 3,000 human lives are lost to abortion each day in the United States alone. When set against destruction of such magnitude, our differences concerning sexuality and theology seem awfully petty.

Conservative Christians are entitled to their beliefs, just as I am entitled to mine. There’s a big difference, though, between saying one can believe X and be pro-life and saying one must believe X to be pro-life. It’s okay to be against birth control (even though I personally disagree). It’s not okay to insist that being against birth control is a requisite for being pro-life. As I noted in my first post, such a narrow vision excludes the majority of American abortion opponents—people whose contributions could be of great help to the cause.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re against abortion, I’ll stand with you. I don’t care what religion you practice or how devout you are. I don’t care if you’re straight or gay. I don’t care if you’ve had dozens of sexual partners or if you were a virgin on your wedding night. Because none of that matters. What matters is that your end-goal and mine are the same. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s all you need to be pro-life.

LifeNews Note: Kris Skul writes for Secular Pro-Life. This column does not necessarily represent the views of