“Born at the instant
The church bells chime
And the whole world whispering
Born at the right time.” — Paul Simon
Being a cradle Catholic and a self-proclaimed progressive usually goes hand in hand. The Jesus we learn about in the bible and on Sundays fought for the little guy. He healed the sick. He made it so that the blind could see and the deaf could hear. He hung out with the dregs of human society and invested his efforts in helping them.
No matter how bad anyone had been up to that point they were redeemable at least in the eyes of God. Then, we get to abortion. That’s where we have a bit of a separation. The church preaches that life is sacred whether it is at the beginning or the bitter end. It preaches that all life should be valued whether they be saint or sinner. Obviously, ending a pregnancy doesn’t fall into that paradigm.
Yet, there has always been a tension between the faith teachings of any church and the way a secular society has to be run. It has always been a challenge to keep God in our lives and yet not to intrude on the beliefs of others. A moral law cannot be based on religion alone. It must be backed by common sense, basic human decency, and a universal agreement of its existence.
Snark and passions don’t work well together. This is a serious moment in our nation’s history. It demands seriousness on all sides. The Declaration of Independence said we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are God-given rights it said. We were endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. Life is the first and the most basic human right.
However, to call oneself pro-life implies that those that are opposed to a specific viewpoint are anti-life. The reality is that we are talking about one narrow definition of life and one point in the life continuum. The truth is that there are any number of issues and times in our lives when the question of life is paramount. What does it truly mean to be alive? Are there basic human necessities everyone is entitled to? If so, then what are they?
If we are entitled to life and that entitlement is absolute then it is absolute at every juncture. It is absolute when I commit a crime. It is absolute when we have wars of choice. However, it is also absolute when I lack the basic necessities of life. It is absolute when I am hungry. It is absolute when I don’t have a roof over my head. It is absolute when I need health care and don’t have insurance. Any conversation about life has to include a discussion about the quality of life. We must agree on a minimal quality of life if we are to call ourselves pro-life. Otherwise, we are simply pro-birth.
That is a perfectly respectable viewpoint. It is one where we don’t have to all agree. However, when one calls for the birth of a child and then offers nothing in support of that child once it is born then they cease to be pro-life. They are pro-birth. Again, there is nothing wrong with that as a viewpoint. You just don’t get to claim a higher moral ground or have sole appeal to a higher moral authority.
If we are to be strict constructionists then we would have to strike down the equal protections clause in the 14th amendment except for those groups specifically named in the constitution. That would include mixed race couples, LGTBQ+ individuals, in addition to those rights of privacy not explicitly stated in the constitution. As appetizing as that may sound to some, it puts a qualifier on life. Your life is only fully actualized if it fits into this tiny box we defined in 1789 and after the civil war and reconstruction. Otherwise, you are invisible and you do not get to love who you want or be who you want to be.
Most people are well-meaning folks. They really don’t want to hurt anyone and think making such limitations helps those folks. I’m just trying to imagine Jesus of Nazareth saying the same things. I really can’t. In order to keep the faith I do have I refuse to.