When People Tell You That You Have No Right to Be Pro-Life, Because You’re Conservative
In the ferocious, informal debates that swirl around abortion, a conservative critic of abortion can expect to be told, “You are not worthy of holding the viewpoint you hold.” He may hear that from two, very different directions.
He will hear it from pro-choicers. He will also hear it from some pro-lifers. They both say: You have no right to be pro-life. We don’t have to listen to you.
From the pro-abortion Left, the critique runs something like this: “Do you support a huge, expensive social bureaucracy? Are you in favor of all possible government programs for the child’s benefit? No? Then how dare you oppose abortion? Away with your fake compassion.”
The leftist does not apply the same logic to saving a potential victim from a looming gunman. He never applies it to saving a rhino from a poacher. In those cases, saving a life has no political prerequisite. No one tells the wildlife enthusiast that if he doesn’t intend to adopt the rhino and his entire family, and fund a rhino park for them all, he ought to shut up about poaching.
From the pro-life purity folks, the equivalent critique also starts with a quiz. “Are you truly pro-life? Or do you “discriminate” in your commitment to life? Do you extend it to little babies, but not to inmates on Death Row? Do you want to restrict the use of scalpels, but not the sale of firearms? Away from me, you lukewarm faker!”
Explanations doesn’t much sway that crowd, either. You may cite Scripture, logic, church tradition, centuries of examples of giants of morality and faith who sincerely held the same convictions you do. All is in vain.
The “pro-life purity test” folks do, at least, believe that opposition to abortion is right. However, you may not oppose it in your present benighted state. They implicitly agree with their polar opposites: You must earn the right to oppose abortion.
Not Just Inconsistency
Look, they’re not really accusing you of inconsistency. They don’t actually care about that. They’re using their idea of consistency to try to make you agree with them about a different issue.
Neither side would be satisfied by your consistency. They want conversion.
Imagine the “consistent fiscal conservative,” as the pro-abortion crowd imagines him. “No, I don’t support social programs for that child. He should have been aborted! Abortion was our plan to keep him from adding to our tax load, and increasing the size of our government.” No Leftist would like that guy any better than they like you.
Imagine if “Sister-Bertha-Prolifelier-Than-You!” convinced her target. What if he admitted, “You’re right! I am for capital punishment, so I guess I shouldn’t be against abortion after all. I must adopt a consistently anti-life position. Yay for Roe v. Wade!” She wouldn’t like that creature either.
In demanding “consistency,” each strident would-be moral judge is asking for a caricature. Each caricature, in real life, would be a moral monster. Fortunately, if they’re actually around, these “consistent monsters” are as elusive as Sasquatch.
No More Posturing
Let’s have done with this brand of posturing. Abortion supporters, if you charge that your fiscally-conservative opponent is not compassionate enough to be sincerely pro-life, think of him trying to protect the unborn the way you would protect a mugging victim or a rhino. He has the right to defend the victim even if you doubt he would do enough for the victim.
“Pro-Life Purity” folks, consider collaborating to save many of the lives you care about. Allow folks like me to be “imperfectly” right. After all, there’s precedent in Holy Writ for “he that is not against us, is for us.” Everyone has the right to be right, on this crucial issue.
Everyone. Even in our federal prisons, hardened criminals are notoriously vindictive towards those who have hurt children. Is that hypocritical of them? Perhaps, but it’s also a spark of humanity. And sparks of humanity should not be lightly extinguished — no matter how they got into a person’s conscience. Just as human beings ought not be casually extinguished, no matter how they got into a woman’s womb.
Joe Long holds an MA in History from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. He’s been published in Civil War Historian magazine, the Journal of the South Carolina Historical Society, the Journal of Asian Martial Arts, and at American Greatness online.