Surely you've seen these bumper stickers around town: "You can't be both Catholic and pro-choice." While we've been struck by the audacity of mere mortals to make such a claim, most pro-lifers likely just nod their heads in agreement with the sentiment.
Not that Catholics have a lock on the debate. They don't even dictate positions for everybody in their own church, as witnessed by the mere existence of the group Catholics For Choice.
Where one stands on this controversial issue does not appear dependent on religious affiliation. Both pro-choice and anti-abortion individuals can be found in most Christian conclaves. Or, if you prefer, most every religion has its share of pro-life and anti-choice voices. Even though the term pro-abortion gets bandied about, it's not an accurate description. There really aren't people advocating an increase in abortions.
But is the term pro-life accurate itself? Many in northwest Kansas and throughout the country herald presidential contender Mitt Romney as the pro-life candidate and urge support of him if one is being true to their faith. While formerly a strong supporter of abortion rights, Romney has reversed course for this election. He now claims Roe v. Wade should be reversed so that states can decide for themselves. He also said he would end federal aid to Planned Parenthood.
We would argue Romney's pro-life stance deserves an asterisk. Then again, any pro-life position that allows exceptions for rape, incest or the well-being of a mother should get the same footnote. The same for anyone favoring the death penalty. If one's moral stance posits life is sacred from the moment of conception, there shouldn't be any exceptions.
"Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.' " (Jeremiah 1:4-5) It is one of many citations used by Christian pro-lifers when advocating laws regarding abortion, personhood, contraception, fetal pain, infanticide, etc. It is their proof that life exists from the first zygote and, since the U.S. Constitution declares all people equal, preborn children can't be murdered.
Except in the cases of rape, incest or the well-being of the mother.
It doesn't appear logical that certain offspring deserve protection while others do not. That's conditional morality. Aren't there any true pro-lifers out there?
There are at least two in the running that we know of, both vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
In Indiana, Richard Mourdock said: "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
In Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin became a household name when he offered: "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."
After basically being disowned by the Republican Party and receiving disapproval from Romney, both men are attempting to backtrack on the comments. Turns out they're just wannabe pro-lifers.
How can one compromise such a sacred principle? How can the practice of situational ethics offer any credibility for a moral position?
There's no pro-life candidate in American politics today. If you believe there is, place an asterisk beside your own "pro-life" stance.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry