Martin Thielen

November 1, 2020

The recent appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has reignited the debate over abortion in America. Although I don’t call myself “pro-life” (I don’t think the government should tell women what to do concerning this exceptionally personal and agonizing issue), I sympathize with the pro-life spirit.

I wish we lived in a world where abortions never occurred. But I also realize abortion is a highly complex issue that cannot be adequately debated in TV sound bites, on bumper stickers, or in brief blog posts.

I am confused, however, by the large number of people, especially conservative Christians, who call themselves “pro-life.” Because from my vantage point, many of them have views and behaviors that are anything but pro-life. Examples abound. Let me mention just a few.

A lot of “pro-life” people fully support the death penalty, even though studies prove that people who are executed are disproportionately poor people of color and even though Jesus clearly would not execute anyone. This doesn’t seem very pro-life to me.

A lot of “pro-life” people want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would result in millions of people losing their insurance benefits, literally killing a lot of seriously ill people, and devastating the lives of others, especially those with preexisting conditions. This doesn’t seem very pro-life to me.

A lot of “pro-life” people constantly and brutally condemn people in the LBGTQ community, which significantly raises the suicide rate within this group, especially among teenagers. This doesn’t seem very pro-life to me.

A lot of “pro-life” people deny the reality of climate change, in spite of the fact that the earth is getting dangerously warm, with catastrophic results, including putting a million species on the planet in danger of extinction. This doesn’t seem very pro-life to me.

A lot of “pro-life” people want extremely harsh treatments for immigrants, at least black and brown ones, even though most of these people are simply trying to escape brutal conditions in their homeland and even though they make significant economic contributions to our country. This doesn’t seem very pro-life to me.

I’ve finally realized that a lot of “pro-life” people are not pro-life at all, at least in the broader sense of the word. Instead, they are, in the words of author John Pavlovitz, “pro-embryo.” Especially if the embryo is white, middle- or upper-middle-class, and American. This doesn’t seem very pro-life to me.