Being pro-Life is so much more than being anti-abortion. Being truly pro-Life pro-Life means being concerned for every human life at every stage, stage and eventuality -- especially in the face of increasingly aggressive cultural forces tat say otherwise. It not only means opposing the destruction of all human life but also providing constructive alternatives that uphold human life.
Critics of the pro-Life movement often accuse pro-lifers of only being concerned about saving unborn babies. This is not true, and I think the accusers know it -- or they are woefully uninformed about the pro-Life movement.
For years I've worked with pro-Life groups across North America; I have encountered
an extensive network of programs and services offering life-affirming alternatives to women in crisis pregnancies. Pro-Life activists work in partnership with local crisis pregnancy centres and churches to provide support and inclusion for women and their babies.
Many crisis pregnancy centres offer crucial life skills training to young mothers, employment assistance in concert with existing community resources, or help women to get educational upgrading and/or further education. Other groups work with adoption agencies if women in crisis pregnancies wish to take this option.
Many pro-Life groups have established counselling services for post-abortive women.
These are essential pro-Life responses in a era when abortion on demand is widely accepted.
But things must not end there and they have not.
The pro-Life movement has evolved over the decades from solely trying to stop abortion to actively working to check the acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide. This is necessary because, with the passage of time, western society has hardened its attitudes toward vulnerable, inconvenient or unwanted human life.
The thought of assisting the suicides of defeated people has gone from being unthinkable to acceptable to legislatively supported in places like Oregon and Washington state. Advocates of euthanasia and assisted suicide are vociferously lobbying in other jurisdictions for laws that allow killing of terminally and chronically ill people.
Even without legislation, euthanasia and infanticide of incurably ill and profoundly disabled newborns and adults are being quietly practised in hospitals across North America. It's often a subtle practice cloaked in nuances of health care decision making and cryptic medical terminology designed to convince families and caregivers to allow people with terminal or chronic illnesses or serious disabilities to be euthanized.
What is the usual method of killing? Withholding nutrition (food) and hydration (water). Sadly, in certain bioethical and medical circles, imperfect or inconvenient human life has become as cheap as grass clippings.
Many pro-Life groups are quickly expanding their work to respond to this new assault against vulnerable humanity. They must shift gears to become proactive and encourage community based strategies to educate people about caring for loved ones who acquire disabilities of diseases.
This may involve promoting or establishing community faith-based hospices, special supports for parents expecting a disabled child or befriending families where early onset of dementia has been diagnosed in a parent or spouse. New pro-Life responses should involve development or coordination of respite services for primary caregivers of profoundly disabled people.*
[Sometimes a proper response to such families may be as simple and practical as help with yard work, providing transportation to and from medical appointments, or helping them research where to access services and advocacy when needed.]
Society's aversion to disability and the myth that death is preferable to disability must be challenged at every turn. It must be challenged because it is a lie.
The pro-Life movement must promote a new cultural paradigm that sees people with disabilities as indispensable to community life. We must get the message out that people with disabilities have unique gifts to bring to the table of human experience. Even those who are comatose or unresponsive unknowingly call their caregivers and community to a higher standard of love.
*My wife's experience with abortion, post-abortion grief and living for 26-plus years with my degenerative multiple sclerosis, as well as helping aged family members with end of life care has equipped her with a heart and understanding for appropriate and well-rounded community pro-Life responses. This blog entry is largely based upon her insights.