Pro-life from womb to tomb


January 2002

“My critics are the unpaid guardians of my soul,” wrote E. Stanley Jones. And critics were waiting for the thousands of “Right to Life” advocates gathered in Washington D.C. to mark the 29th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that declared abortion legal. The day started off well when the President of the United States addressed the group.

“Every life is valuable,” George W. Bush proclaimed. “Our society has a responsibility to defend the vulnerable and weak, the imperfect and even the unwanted. [Applause] A generous society values all human life. A merciful society seeks to expand legal protection to every life . . . not just the healthy or the strong or the powerful.” [More applause]

But Ann Retman, an abortion advocate from Boston, Mass., followed the “pro-life” marchers from the mall to the Supreme Court building. “If they’re so proud of living in a free nation, then there needs to be freedom,” she argued. “I’m sick of them pulling out their religion when it’s convenient for them and then when they want to oppress people, the Bible doesn’t come in anywhere.”

A generous society values all human life

So, would Jones view Retman as a “guardian” of the anti-abortionist’s souls? I think so. As one who considers himself “pro-life” (or “a “right-wing religious radical” if you prefer), I’m concerned that many in the “Right To Life” movement may not be as “pro” as they would like to think when it comes to “life.”

It is tragic that 3,600 unborn babies are aborted every day in this land of freedom. That’s a million each year.

Do we value the hungry?

But did you know that 24,000 people worldwide die every day from starvation and malnutrition? That’s over 8 million each year. Three of four who die are younger than five years old.

Did you also know, that hunger relief groups estimate that it would take 13 billion dollars a year to end hunger for the Earth’s poorest citizens? Wow, that is a lot of money, but did you know North Americans and Europeans spend 18 billion dollars a year on pet food?

Do we value people of faith?

According to Dan Hodel, president of the Christian Coalition, “More than 160,000 Christians were martyred in the last five years in a monumental escalation of religious persecution.” He adds, “More Christians have been killed for their faith in the 20th Century than the first nineteen centuries combined! (See See countries where Christians are persecuted.)

While Christians are the most persecuted group in this century, we cannot forget the six million Jews killed by nazi Germany. Muslims are currently being killed by other Muslims in Shiite and Sunni wars. (According to a 2011 State Department study, “Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.”) All people of faith are in imminent danger.

Do we value the terminally ill?

[Added in 2017] Bioethics News, published by Georgetown University, warned in its February 2016 issue that “Euthanasia [is] a slippery slope that could end in involuntary euthanasia.” It noted that euthanasia was legalized in Belgium in 2002. “A study conducted in Flanders in 1996 found that 3.3% of cases of euthanasia had occurred without the prior request of the patient. In other words, they were involuntary euthanasias.” It also noted, “However—and we believe this is important—the percentage of involuntary euthanasia in patients who were 80-years-old or over rose to 52.7%, while in those with diseases other than cancer, this figure reached 67.5%. The decision was not discussed with the patient in 77.9% of cases.”

With the dramatic increase in costs of caring for aging Baby Boomers, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease, medical facilities and government assistance will become overwhelmed, and the prospect of euthanasia will become a viable [no pun intended] option!

Do we value prisoners?

Retman would probably have a fit, as well, to realize that many “pro-lifers” are pro-death penalty. I haven’t figured that one out, yet, either (see my column on capital punishment). It’s particularly disturbing when 381 death-row prisoners in the United States were declared “wrongly convicted” and had their sentences thrown out. In a scathing series of articles in the January 1999 issues of the Chicago Tribune, reporters found “With impunity, prosecutors across the country have violated their oaths and the law, committing the worst kinds of deception in the most serious of cases.”

And I’m not sure about the company we keep. In 2000, 88 percent of all known executions were carried out in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the USA. According to Amnesty International, during that year 3,058 people were sentenced to death in 65 countries.

I do applaud the Justice Department and military for it’s “pro-life” treatment of terrorist “detainees.” It seems to me that moving suicidal maniacs who have lived in dark, dank caves with no sanitary facilities for the last several months to a sunny tropical climate with modern plumbing is actually a major improvement in their standard of living. (And I should remind Ms. Retman—and the pro-lifers—that Jesus commands his followers to love their enemies and to treat prisoners as they would treat him.)

Do we value those threatened by death?

And this doesn’t include those whose lives are in imminent danger.

Over 800,000,000 people in our world are seriously under-nourished with physical and cognitive consequences.

The United Nations estimates there are 20,000,000 “bonded laborers” worldwide.

Over 700,000 to 2,000,000 women and children are “trafficked” each year for forced labor and prostitution. Women and children sold or kidnapped into prostitution number up to 800,000 in Thailand, 200,000 in India, and 50,000 right here in the United States (Asian women “sell” for $16,000 each in North America).

So, what’s the solution?

How ’bout for every bag of pet food we buy, we send a check for the same amount to World Hope, or other groups fighting hunger throughout the world? (No pets? Donate what you spend on snack foods.)

How ’bout every time we’re waited on by a minimum wage server at a Chinese or Mexican restaurant, we send a comparable donation to organizations fighting forced labor in those countries such as the Salvation Army‘s “Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking”?

How ’bout every time we sing praises in our comfortable churches, we pray for our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their faith?

And how ’bout being “pro” for all “life”?

Copyright © 2002, 2017 James N. Watkins

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