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Valuing all human life

| Friday, January 27, 2017

On Tuesday, a very thoughtful response to Notre Dame Right to Life was published in The Observer. The author was countering Right to Life’s publicly declared support and move to partake in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Friday. I greatly admire the author’s courtesy in her writing, and her clear respect for the other side — this is the kind of person with whom it is possible to engage in public dialogue and civil discourse, even civil disagreement. Put this in contrast to the many who are unwilling to even consider that another’s beliefs are worth listening to — a prime example arose this past week when the Women’s March, in a show of brazen discrimination, decided to exclude pro-life feminist groups from participating, an act which drew criticism from both political sides for its blatant disregard of inclusivity.

The author of the article in question declared her respect for the intentions of Notre Dame Right to Life and those who “are pro-life in the fullest sense from the moment of conception until death,” but went on to attack the March for Life, which protests the Roe v. Wade court decision. She defends a women’s “choice” with her main claim stemming from the dangers of illegal abortion (which, she claims, women will undoubtedly turn to should abortion be outlawed). The author is absolutely right to argue that illicit abortions are unsafe, but where she errs is moving from that fact to the assertion that this justifies abortion.

She discusses the “cruel reality that restricting or altogether eliminating access to abortion unintentionally threatens the lives of women who fall into certain racial or socioeconomic groups.” What about abortion not just threatening, but directly and immediately destroying, the lives of millions of children who fall into all racial and socioeconomic groups? She urges people to “recognize that abolishing … abortion will have severe consequences that end up dehumanizing poor women and women of color whose lives have tremendous worth.” Is it not “dehumanizing” to kill and dismember the bodies of children of color, and all children, whose lives have tremendous worth? Women’s safety of course must be a concern, but it is wrong to use that as grounds to ignore the lives of the unborn. This argument is nothing more than a distraction from the fact that 56 million babies have never been given: a chance to live since Roe v. Wade. Yes, women must be given care and safety, no one denies that. But it does not come at the price of millions of innocent lives. It is a false dichotomy to maintain that there can only be one or the other abortion, or women dying in the streets. This is precisely why the new GOP Congress is striving to defund the abortive-laden Planned Parenthood and then direct those same funds to local community health centers which offer much more comprehensive women’s healthcare, and outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics 20 to 1.

The pro-choice movement (at least, its more reasonable members) does have intentions of valuing life. But it is too limited a view. One cannot truly value all life until one values — well, all life, and by all life, I mean all life, including the unborn as well as women, those of different races, different socioeconomic statuses, etc. Back-alley abortions are a problem, yes. But let’s deal with that issue after we’ve established the basic grounds that all humans have an inherent right to life to start with, based on their fundamental human dignity.

This is why I am going on the March for Life on Friday. I uncompromisingly value all people — children, adults, women, men, poor, rich, those of color, those of different religion, those of different values and ideals — and not just certain groups who happen to fit my agenda. I thank the author of Tuesday’s article for her sincere and considerate thoughts, and I echo her closing sentiments, with one modification, wherein she encourages us all to “be open to productive conversations about how we can best defend and value [all] human life.”

John Paul Ferguson


Jan. 24

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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