The excerpt below, from a recent op-ed piece, is a perfect example of what is often referred to as “relativism.” One the one hand the anonymous author states correctly that being pro-life means that one respect the sanctity of life, they qualify the definition with an all or nothing approach that essentially pulls the rug out from under that sanctity.
(Just an aside, I pulled what I felt were the full nuggets of the piece, which deals with the issue of life. The remainder of the op-ed is a bit of a rant against conservative politicians…blah, blah, blah…)
In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.”
Once we get past the ranting we get to the substance of this person’s opinion. I find it interesting that this piece remains anonymous as anyone who feels so strongly that their position is correct should stand behind it. I may put funny pictures as my profile and the like but it isn’t that hard to find me out.
Anyway, the author qualifies their vision of pro-life of being of their “world.” As such, the start of the relative begins. Relativism is one of those concepts that seems good on the surface but is essentially a mirage that disappears as one gets closer leaving you thirsty and worse off than before. That said, there are some interesting points such as the lack of effective gun, environmental and education regulation. But there is one major issue – the author lumps all of these issues in a manner that leads implies that each issue is equal to the other.
Willful abortion, the murder of children in the womb, is an evil that has no equal. It goes so far against the norm that its abolishment is a goal of importance that far exceeds that of any other listed here. And that is because every right that a human has stems from the right to life. Moreover, all of the other issues presented here are those that humans affect on each other and some are even self inflicting. Abortion on the other hand is one where the primary victim has no choice or even opportunity to remove themselves from harm.
“Pro-life” can mean only one thing: “respect for the sanctity of life.” And there is no way that respect for the sanctity of life can mean we are obligated to protect every fertilized egg in a woman’s ovary, no matter how that egg got fertilized, but we are not obligated to protect every living person from being shot with a concealed automatic weapon. I have no respect for someone who relies on voodoo science to declare that a woman’s body can distinguish a “legitimate” rape, but then declares — when 99 percent of all climate scientists conclude that climate change poses a danger to the sanctity of all life on the planet — that global warming is just a hoax.
The term “pro-life” should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth. That radical narrowing of our concern for the sanctity of life is leading to terrible distortions in our society.
While the author is correct that pro-life is a term where the identified or self-identified explicitly values all life (human life mind you) as sacred, their definition is one of their own design as it does not truly value human life as sacred. This is evidenced by their failure to elevate the protection of the most inalienable right of the most innocent as the number one priority.
Would they be so rash at comparing slavery and genocide (of native american, Jews, etc.) as being on the same level as the environment and health care? This makes no sense.
Respect for life has to include respect for how that life is lived, enhanced and protected — not only at the moment of conception but afterward. That’s why, for me, the most “pro-life” politician in America is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While he supports a woman’s right to choose, he has also used his position to promote a whole set of policies that enhance everyone’s quality of life — from his ban on smoking in bars and city parks to reduce cancer, to his ban on the sale in New York City of giant sugary drinks to combat obesity and diabetes, to his requirement for posting calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants, to his push to reinstate the expired federal ban on assault weapons and other forms of common-sense gun control, to, to his support for mitigating disruptive climate change.
Again, there is truth to the author’s position but to qualify it with the work of Mayor Bloomberg is questionable and of poor understanding of the sanctity of life. Banning acts of the will like smoking, sugary drinks and the like, while well-intentioned and even beneficial, but not doing so with concern for the murder of children is reprehensible and contradictory. None of those items, including guns and climate change are as grave or have a direct impact on an individual person – as in an innocent person being the target each and every time – as abortion.