My recent post, Dear Pro-Life Friends, Can We Talk? generated a fair amount of engagement. With 64% of the country opposing the overturn of Roe, I anticipated some support, but I’m not naive enough to think that it wouldn’t be met with strong reactions from the other side. I won’t lie… it was difficult to put out there.
We are fortunate that we live in America (and not Russia) and our opinions in speech and writing are still protected by the First Amendment.
I received a few hateful messages, but for the most part, even those who opposed my viewpoints were respectful in expressing their views. For that I’m grateful and optimistic that we might actually make it through this messy, polarized, complicated space we’re in.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the comments that “in God’s eyes, all life is precious” and how “quality of life” fits into that position. Some say this isn’t about religion, but… c’mon…God is at the center of the argument. My position is that this isn’t a theological issue – it’s a human issue. The truth is, we have done an absolutely terrible job – especially in states poised to ban abortion – of taking care of children outside the womb. In my previous article, I shared a wealth of verifiable information about everything from health care to education to child poverty demonstrating that we simply do NOT treat all life as “precious gifts from God” once they are born.
Beyond taking rights away from women and girls who’ve been victims of rape or incest, the discussion veered to pick apart the construct of “quality of life” with specific examples of devaluing the life of a child with Downs Syndrome or mental impairments or physical disabilities. I want to address that point very specifically. I believe that all humans deserve fundamental human rights. I cannot imagine the pain of that decision… that your child will face a lifetime of excruciating challenges, that the child may not survive, or that your own life is in danger if you proceed with the pregnancy. Those women who have other children must certainly be agonizing over them if they die giving birth. (For example, Mississippi will be one of the states forcing women to give birth — their rate of maternal mortality of 22.1 per 100,000 live births is well above the national average of 17.47.)
No doubt we align on that point because I recognize that, at its core, the pro-life movement is about the value and equality of all human beings: babies, mothers, the elderly… children in schools, grandmas in grocery stores, people in church.
Where we do not align is that I do not assume to have the moral superiority to make that difficult personal decision for another human being.
While I hear a lot of outrage from pro-life folks for unborn lives, where’s the outrage for the 21 lives lost in an elementary school in Uvalde, TX?
Where is the outrage for the 10 people who were gunned down in a grocery store in Buffalo, NY a few weeks ago?
Where is the outrage for the 17 people killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL?
Where is the outrage for the massacre of 20 children and 6 adults in an elementary school in Newtown, CT?
Where is the outrage for the 11 people who were executed when they went to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA for Sabbath services one Saturday morning?
The list goes on. The United States of America has the most guns (1.2 guns per person), and the most mass shootings in the world, and guns have become the leading cause of death for American kids. Firearms killed more children and adolescents in 2020 than car accidents, which had long been the leading cause of death for youth from infancy to age 18.
I know what you’re probably thinking… gun rights are different from women’s reproductive rights. Gun rights are protected by the Constitution. Yes, I know. The Second Amendment protects the rights of a person in Texas to walk into a gun store days after he turned 18 and purchase 2 military-style weapons and enough ammunition for a day at war before shooting up a school full of little kids.
I am not suggesting that we revoke anyone’s Second Amendment rights.
But if this discussion truly is about the sanctity of human life – if all human life is “precious in God’s eyes” – I’m curious what the pro-life folks are doing to save lives from gun violence. The pro-life movement is about the value of life – no matter the circumstance – so those folks must be vociferously trying to ensure gun safety, amping up background checks, and maybe even raising the legal age to purchase an assault rifle… right?
Um… no. The same people who are staunch protectors of the unborn are even more resolute in their protection of guns.
It’s hard to believe that gun rights are more important than human rights. But when you compare the vehement opposition to “killing unborn babies” with the “thoughts and prayers” for dead second graders, the “value and equality of all human life” talking point is, at best hypocrisy, in reality, a lie.
The toll of violence, especially on children, has grown. The CDC reported that the rate of gun deaths for children ages 14 and younger rose by 50% from the end of 2019 to 2020. Mass shootings have become so common in our country that only the most horrific make it to national headlines.
My previous article was intentionally factual. Those who oppose my perspective didn’t address many of those facts as to how we might do a better job taking care of human life. Here. Now. In our schools. In our churches and synagogues. In our grocery stores and movie theaters.
Those who oppose my perspective argue beliefs based upon their faith. I respect their right to make choices for them based upon their beliefs and their faith. Where I feel compelled to speak up (again, thank whatever God you pray to for the First Amendment) is when they feel justified to impose those values and beliefs on me. And if I don’t subscribe? I’m a “baby killer.”
There are many reasons why a woman may be faced with the difficult decision of terminating a pregnancy. I believe that decision belongs to her. There is only one reason that a person would take an assault weapon into a school or church or grocery store. The same people fighting to strip a woman of her own reproductive rights are also fighting to protect the rights of the next person who decides to buy an assault rifle to kill people.
Forgive me… I don’t see the same level of protection of “God’s gifts.”
Life is sacred? Respectfully, until I see gun “rights” scrutinized at the same level as women’s reproductive “rights,” that whole sanctity of life bit is pretty hollow.