I hope I have made it clear in this blog that I am a proud and committed political progressive. (You can decide whether a conservative theological commitment rhymes with a progressive political agenda, but for me that is my calling, and it seems firmly biblically based.) As such, I feel that what is commonly called a "pro-life" posture is mandatory: We are called to "choose life" and to work for well-being in our own lives and in the lives of all whom we can affect. We are messengers of Our Lord, who came that we "might have life and have it abundantly." I think that Christians must constantly strive to establish and live a "consistent ethic of life."
Unfortunately, the terms I placed in quotation marks are often highjacked and claimed exclusively by a less-than-progressive branch of the political family, who refuse to grant the terms any other meaning than "anti-abortion." This pro-birth movement ignores or opposes programs and policies which enhance or protect life, broadly and logically construed, contributing to the decline in the integrity of political discourse. For them, pro-life has nothing to do with the life of the child after birth, with issues of poverty and disease and inequities in access to health care, with war, with near-abandonment of public education, with capital punishment. It is purely a matter of getting a baby born -- period. That is as cheap and illusory a use of the term as I can imagine. (As a consequence, I am inclined to call most "pro-life" movements, pro-natalist.)
As a progressive who is a member of no political party (and no, I am not quoting Mark Twain, who said "I'm a member of no organized party. I'm a Democrat."), I have had my curiosity piqued by the arrival of the organization styled "Democrats for Life." Friends who are pro-life Democrats (in the broad sense of the term, as I use it here) are excited to have a vehicle for making this point of their progressive agenda move. But I have been skeptical: I haven't spent much time on the matter (after all, it's easier to remain curmudgeonly and cynical with fewer facts, you know), but I have feared that it would simply be a bunch mostly of conservative Democrats who have a problem with abortion.
Well, this brief by the head of the organization, Kristen Day, allays some of my resistence. In her paper, she lays out a broad perspective on "life" -- one that is much broader than I had expected to see. Oh, it is evident from the specificity and the amount of space given over to abortion, that that is a primary focus of the organization's work. That, in and of itself, is not a reason for either surprise or rejection. But there is the suggestion that this group may actually get it -- that abortion is a symptom of and contributor to greater problems, including (as I noted above) poverty and the general lack of political concern for children whose parents are poor. (That an incredible number of abortions are intended simply to make life easier for well-to-do woman who can't be bothered to have a baby right now is a manifestation of other cultural problems.)
I am now inspired to look more closely at this group. I have a little hope that there is a movement that will lobby for a full slate of life-supporting and -affirming legislation. (Hope springs eternal, I suppose. Contrary to most people's opinions, I really am an optimist -- I'm a Christian, after all.)
In any event, it is way past the time when self-styled "liberals" (not a very helpful term, it seems to me, given its heritage), "progressives," "Democrats," "leftists" (where I count myself when I want to be blunt), and the rest begin seriously to grapple with a consistent politics. That the Democratic Party has been captured by an unreflective, knee-jerk pro-abortion(-rights) philosophy is an irony that I can't overlook. And neither should they!
"Democrats for Life" may be a welcome voice in the debate and a force for bringing the Democratic Party to its senses.
One request, though: Can we find some other way to deal with babies who face abortion than "pre-born"? I have no ideal what that phrase is supposed to accomplish (and I have heard and seen it used by people who should know better). "Unborn" or "in utero" or something -- but "pre-born"? You can be moral and literate.