Everybody wants to be pro-life. Or rather, nobody wants to be the opposite. It’s a good term and its sounds noble. But the term “pro-life” is losing its meaning. In fact, people are adopting it to have a more expansive, all encompassing meaning, or people are using it in any arbitrary, selective way they choose. It used to be that if you said you were pro-life, people knew you were against abortion. But not anymore. That’s why I recently posted a Facebook Live video titled, “Call me anti-abortion.”
The pro-life term was coined for the movement that arose after Roe v Wade legalized abortion. Roe concluded that personhood did not include the unborn and they were denied the fundamental right to life. With that, the Right to Life movement arose. People stepped up, spoke up, organized, marched and created a legislative and political movement. This movement still seeks to restore the right to life to children in the womb today. They are pro-life, in the specific sense that they are in favor (“pro”) of restoring the most fundamental right (life) to the children from whom it has been deprived (children in the womb) .
This has been understood for decades, but increasingly, virtue signalers have accused those who fight abortion of hypocrisy for not being pro-life enough if they don’t adhere to their views of healthcare, immigration care for the poor or whatever cause du jour.
In fact, just today I got the following comment in an email, “How about the idea that pro-life organizations start caring about life ‘in all its stages’. If these [budget] cuts occur, you can be sure that in addition to extreme poverty and homelessness, mental illness, crime, and violence are also going to rise, and that is very frightening in our already violent society.”
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In other words, we should be tackling every human life concern (or at least the ones they deem worthy), or we have no right to call ourselves pro-life. They may believe they are adhering to a consistent ethic of life but even Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the key spokesman for that concept back in the 1980’s, stated, “A consistent ethic does not say everyone in the Church must do all things, but it does say that as individuals and groups pursue one issue, whether it is opposing abortion or capital punishment, the way we oppose one threat should be related to support for a systemic vision of life. It is not necessary or possible for every person to engage in each issue.” (See www.priestsforlife.org/consistentethic.)
Quite a Stretch
The term “pro-life” has become so fluid that one can no longer take for granted that a person who claims the title is against abortion. In fact, in a January episode of The View, Whoopi Goldberg, who believes abortion should be a right, declared she was pro-life. “Maybe we should stop talking about being pro-life, or anti-life because nobody is not for life,” said Goldberg. “What I’m saying is I’m also pro-life. I don’t like having people define the fact that I think having a choice is [not] a good thing. It doesn’t make me less of a pro-life person.”
That is quite a stretch. By definition, pro-lifers should be in favor of supporting all life, and therefore also lives still in the womb.
For these reasons, I have come to the conclusion that it is important to say “anti-abortion”. I am not saying we should stop using the term “pro-life”; I’m simply saying we need to also utilize the term “anti-abortion.” When we are talking about fighting abortion, we have to be precise. The benefit of the term “anti-abortion” is that by identifying a particular issue around which one’s efforts focus, it is able to define a movement and mobilize people who are seeking to do the same thing, that is, end abortion. For a movement to achieve its goal, it has to identify its goal. We want a movement that is clear in its message that it seeks to protect children against violence in womb of abortion.
Some consider anti-abortion to be too negative. But they forget that two negatives make a positive. The denial of a denial is an affirmation: stop hatred, oppose injustice, hate evil. To hate evil is a good. In fact, the Lord God loves those who hate evil (see Psalm 97:10). Therefore, “anti-abortion” is a good term. To abort means to stop something has been set in motion. In space we abort a mission. In computer lingo, we abort particular operations. In pregnancy, when we abort, we stop a life that has started. So to be anti-abortion is positive; it means to be “against ending” the lives of babies in the womb.
I like the term anti-abortion and our movement will benefit from using it more. It is a badge of honor and a necessity. Anti-abortion defines the goal clearly. We can use anti-abortion in a positive way to restore protection to children in the womb
Call me anti-abortion.
LifeNews.com Note: Father Frank Pavone is the national director for Priests for Life.