Pro-life at Both Ends?

May 15, 2013

Two cases recently revealed a problem with the way the "pro-life" label is used in political discussions and news: the label is generally used for those who are merely anti-abortion and not necessarily fully pro-life. Although working to reduce abortions is an important effort and is clearly a pro-life goal, surely to wear the title "pro-life" one must be concerned about life for more than just nine months. Last week, three women were rescued from a home in Cleveland home where they had been imprisoned for about a decade. Ariel Castro, the man who held them there, could face the death penalty for causing at least five miscarriages (by beating and punching the woman). This week, abortionist Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder (for horrendous crimes he committed during abortions). Gosnell faced the death penalty but quickly cut a deal to instead get life in prison. The latter case particularly attracted attention of anti-abortion activists, with some pushing for the death penalty (Fox News commentator Todd Starnes even argued Gosnell should be killed with the same techniques he used, which does not put Starnes in a good light considering Starnes rightfully considers those techniques to be something only a monster does). Can we really support using the death penalty on Castro and Gosnell and still be pro-life? Killing someone to prove you respect life seems like an odd and contradictory message. Hopefully cases like this will cause more anti-abortion leaders to consider embracing a consistent life ethic, which Catholic leaders like Eileen Egan and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin called the "seamless garment" of life perspective. All life is sacred.