Probably many of our readers have encountered the following bit of rhetoric leftists have started using in order to counter the basic facts that they are pro-abortion, that abortion is heinous, and that millions of humans are killed each year out of thoughtless or selfish desires culminating in this barbaric practice. Here is an example from the Huffington Post and another by Benjamin Corey, a popular chap in liberal, Christian circles who fancies himself an enlightened, former-fundie. The ploy is to describe pro-lifers as “pro-birth” while portraying themselves as as pro-life or “whole-life.” Conservatives are merely pro-birth and don’t care about life outside of the womb. If they did, they would not support (a) the death penalty, torture, war, the continued existence of nuclear weapons, drone strikes, and the Second Amendment; instead, they would support (b) generous welfare programs, universal healthcare, a living wage (see–it is about life!), higher minimum wages, and in general what the whole-life Democrat movement supports.
Here at Rightly Considered, we will help cut through the rhetoric to lay bare the sophistry at work and shall make short work of it. Let us start in reverse order with (b). First, in this discussion, there is often an equivocation on words “life” and “pro-life.” “Pro-life,” in context of abortion, refers to being for the life of a human (a fetus) and against her being killed. Being pro-life in the context of talking about welfare, minimum wages, and so forth refers to the totality of one’s life and whether one has a well-lived life. But having a life well-lived in this sense is not the same as having life in the biological sense which is a precondition for the former. A dead fetus does not have a well-lived life because it has no biological life at all (or at least a very brief one cut short by an abortionist “doctor”). Second, even if “pro-life” is meant to refer to life in the biological sense–perhaps in the context of talking about universal healthcare and all those people “dying in the streets”–the real pro-lifer is still taking a pro-biological-life stance. They simply disagree that universal healthcare will promote biological life as opposed to a less government-regulated healthcare system. Universal healthcare is thought to be worse both in terms of the promotion of biological life and a life well-lived for all concerned. Thus making the case that conservatives are not pro-life in this area will require more than sophistry. It will require a fairly complex empirical argument that the pro-lifers’ policies–however well-intended–fail in their pro-life outcomes.
Turning now to (a) we can see that the same response is available to the pro-lifers. In the case of war, drone strikes, and the continued existence of nuclear proliferation, conservatives believe that if you want peace you must prepare for war. Just War Theory lays out general conditions for when wars are to be waged in defense, the end goal being the preservation of more life and welfare than there would be otherwise (at least for those deserving to live). Drone strikes enable a military to make surgical attacks rather than carpet bombing and also do not put one’s own soldiers in harms way. The continued existence of nuclear weapons when other hostile nations also possess them is meant to be a deterrent of war and so far seems to have done its job. The Second Amendment is intended to prevent tyranny and has recently been interpreted to include a right to guns for self-defense. Conservatives do not advocate torturing indiscriminately, but only people who deserve to be tortured who might have valuable information to stop unjustified mass (and other unjustified) murders. To sum up, conservatives’ support for the items in (a) are intended to promote biological life as well as a life well-lived.
This is not true in the case of those who are pro-abortion. The pro-abortionist favors killing and death for the sake of the (perceived) well-being of older and bigger women at the expense of younger and smaller ones. In contrast, pro-lifers fight for the recognition of the intrinsic worth of babies both outside and inside the womb. Pro-lifers support adoption as well as the rights of children to be raised by their biological parents; they support pregnancy centers and fetal care. They are pro-life and whole-life.
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