The fortieth memorial of Roe v. Wade and the March for Life are taking place this week. To some people, the meaning of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” is not very clear. My friend Albany Rose made the above graphic and I thought I would explore the philosophies behind the pro-life and pro-choice positions and where “exceptions” fit in.
Simply put, “pro-life” is the radical idea that human life begins at fertilization; that abortion ends a life and therefore is morally wrong. Pro-lifers are also concerned about the harm that abortion does to women, families and society. This position is based on objective truth and moral absolutism, two counter-cultural philosophies.
Objective Truth was explained to a group of teenagers using this example: Victoria comes to visit Paul. She doesn’t see a dog at his house, therefore she believes that Paul doesn’t have a dog. John comes to visit Paul. There is a dog at Paul’s house; therefore he believes that Paul has a dog. The fact that Paul has or doesn’t have a dog is not affected by Victoria and John’s opinion. Similarly, the fact that abortion kills an innocent life and is wrong is not affected by people’s opinion or feelings.
The “pro-choice” position, on the other hand, is based on moral relativism, where anything goes and truth is in the eye of the beholder. Abortion is perceived as a “woman’s right” and there is not much concern about what it is and what it does to babies, women and society. Pro-choicers support abortion especially in cases of rape and health of the mother, the same “hard cases” for which some pro-lifers are making exceptions.
I encourage everyone to read the stories of women with “hard cases” pregnancies who chose life, published by Feminists for Life. Also, Rebecca Kiessling started Save the 1, an organization dedicated to stop the discrimination against the 1% babies conceived in rape who are targeted for abortion.
The pro-life position on abortion can’t be true in some cases and not in other cases. Abortion is either always taking a life or it is never taking a life. Taking a baby’s life through abortion is either always wrong or it is never wrong. It can’t be both and pro-lifers who are tolerating abortion in some cases are in fact swimming in lukewarm pro-choice waters.
For most of my life, I was accepting all kinds of evils with indifference and other people’s needs were not of my concern. Abortion was one of the quick solutions to their problems that allowed me to not get involved. Let us not fall into that trap. If we have a doubt, there are plenty of resources available online for a pro-life, compassionate response to “difficult cases”. Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Physicians for Life and Elliot Institute are good places to start.
Let us meditate on the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen: “Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, but never to persons.”