Being 'pro-life' means more than being anti-abortion.
The arguments between pro-choice and ‘pro-life’ people are especially heated in the U.S. right now amidst changes under the new Trump Administration and attacks on Planned Parenthood. The age-old argument, which was seemingly settled at the federal level with the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, has resurfaced like never before since that case and has spurred endless debates over the controversy.
The usual labels for people on either side of the argument are pro-choice and pro-life, but Sister Joan Chittister, a highly-educated catholic nun from Pennsylvania, addresses the issue of people who claim to be ‘pro-life’ and the hypocrisy behind the term.
While people that are pro-choice are not anti-life, people that are pro-life tend to be anti-welfare, which means they’re against helping the parents and babies they demanded be born. The evidence of this is in the stances of Republican lawmakers, who consistently vote against abortion but in favor of ending welfare programs that aid low-income parents and children. Since the majority of women that seek abortion are low-income, this is essentially a direct attack on the women and children that Republican, anti-abortion people forced into this world. As Sister Chittister explains it,
“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”
Chittister is a catholic nun from the Order of Saint Benedict with her master’s from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. from Penn State University. She writes a column for the National Catholic Reporter and is a “well-known international lecturer on justice, peace, human rights, women’s issues and contemporary spirituality in the church and in society.”
Being anti-abortion and anti-welfare is a matter of opinion that people are absolutely entitled to, but the fact of the matter is that if a person holds both of these beliefs, they cannot accurately call themselves ‘pro-life.’ It’s a hypocritical label to say the least, and that’s where the problem stems from. The label itself allows people that are anti-abortion to appear morally justified in their opinion when this is not necessarily the case when looking at the bigger picture.
While hypocrisy is something that’s usually just irritating, this kind of hypocritical thinking is extremely harmful to parents and children everywhere because it’s often difficult to find resources when conservatives slash welfare programs. Perhaps the most harmful legislation that’s in the works because of anti-abortion/anti-welfare lawmakers is the effort to defund Planned Parenthood. These clinics provide free or affordable birth control options, STD screenings, breast exams, Pap tests, and educational programs. By defunding Planned Parenthood, lawmakers would not even be defunding abortion since federal funds cannot be allocated towards regular abortions anyways. Instead, millions of men and women will lose access to important services that actually prevent abortion from ever needing to occur.
Whether your beliefs land on the pro or anti-abortion side, the important thing to take away from Sister Chittister’s words are that it’s necessary to question your morals and challenge yourself by starting a dialogue with someone that has different beliefs. Keep an open-mind when listening to others and maybe your perspective might even shift a little bit.
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