What does it mean to be pro-life?
By Paul Stark
Every human being matters, and we ought to act accordingly
The media often use the label “anti-abortion” to describe pro-life advocates. It’s true that we oppose abortion—and infanticide, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research. But we are only against those things because we are for something else.
What we are for
What are we for? We are for the proposition that human life is good, that it is worth living, that it deserves respect and protection. We are for the proposition that every human being has an equal worth and dignity—that every human being has a right to live.
The pro-life position rejects all attempts to divide humanity into those who have rights and those who don’t. Our society now recognizes that past discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity and social status was deeply unjust. We recognize that the worth of a human being does not depend on such characteristics.
Nor, however, does the worth of a human being depend on age, size, ability, dependency, stage of development or the desires and decisions of others. The big are not more valuable than the small. The strong do not have more rights than the weak. The independent do not matter more than the vulnerable and needy.
No, we have value and a right to life simply because we are human—not because of what we can do, but because of what (the kind of being) we are. That’s why everyone matters. Everyone counts.
What we are against
It is because we support equal human dignity that we oppose the intentional killing of innocent human beings. And that means we oppose abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research.
Pro-lifers oppose abortion because it takes the life of a human being before he or she is born. The scientific facts of embryology and developmental biology make clear that the unborn (the human embryo or fetus) is a distinct and living human organism, a full-fledged (though immature) member of the species Homo sapiens. Each of us was once an embryo and a fetus, just as we were once infants, toddlers and adolescents.
And all human beings, at all stages, have a right to life, whether or not they are “wanted” or “convenient.”
We oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide because killing is never the answer to the difficulties of life. All human beings should receive our compassion and care, irrespective of disease, disability or perceived “quality of life.”
We oppose embryonic stem cell research (but not adult or non-embryonic stem cell research) and human cloning because they require the destruction of human embryos. Human embryos are human beings in the embryonic phase of life. And all human beings, regardless of appearance or location (e.g., a petri dish), ought to be treated with respect and not as mere raw material to use for the hypothetical benefit of others.
Living our conviction
But being pro-life is about more than just holding an ethical position. To be truly pro-life means to live and act accordingly.
It means treating other people with dignity and respect—even those with whom we disagree. It means helping pregnant women in need and those who suffer from illness or disability.