A column by Thomas Friedman titled “Why I Am Pro-Life” is making the rounds. I’d been ignoring it because I have a policy of ignoring anything Thomas Friedman writes, but after about the 1,926th time this thing crossed my path, I got fed up. I am 100% on board with criticizing the hypocrisy of people who claim to respect life but oppose universal health care, oppose life-saving environmental care, and hawk war and guns. But criticizing those people isn’t a free pass to avoid examining your own inconsistency.

The term “pro-life” should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth.

Wonderful! I agree! But you will let that label apply to people for whom sanctity of life begins at birth. You will sneer at the notion of wanting to protect “every fertilized egg in a woman’s ovary” (since corrected, but a handy reminder that ignorance about how reproduction works is not confined solely to the far Right). “What about the rest of life?” you ask, but I could ask you the same question: what about the life you minimize and deride and don’t consider part of the human family?

I’m getting pretty tired of people who divide the world into two groups — those who only care about protecting human life before birth, and those who only care about protecting it after — and congratulate themselves on their superiority for being in the latter.*

What about being pro-everyone’s-life? Funny how that possibility never arose in Friedman’s column, or in any of the smug tweets and Facebook shares and blog comments using it as a club to beat those horrible pro-lifers with.

Finally, as someone who actively opposed the Iraq War for which he was a cheerleader, I decline to accept a lecture on the sanctity of life from Thomas Friedman, thank you very much.

*(Edited to add, because I want to be clear: I don’t think a person has to be for banning abortion to respect prenatal life. But I do think they have to talk about that life as one of us. They have to treat its destruction like it matters and is more than simple personal choice. They have to favor trying to prevent abortion, in every just way, because it ends a human life. If you’re doing all those things but identify as pro-choice because you don’t think legal bans are the answer, you’re not who I’m talking about here.)

Comments

  1. Brilliant response, and I completely agree with you.

  2. Thank you for this, and for your work.

    Jen R, are there any good resources for learning about abortion and the history of American abortion politics that are secular and not pro-abortion?

  3. Thanks, Evelyn and Caitlin.

    Caitlin, I asked Marysia about your question and she suggests the following:

    “Caitlin, I recommend a book that I co-edited with Rachel MacNair and Linda Naranjo-Huebl, ProLife Feminism Yesterday and Today, Expanded Second Edition (FNSA/Xlibris, 2005), available here:

    http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0022246050/default.aspx

    as well as these columns that touch upon regarding historical issues:

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/07/09/what-first-wave-feminism-can-teach-first-wave-common-ground

    http://www.fem2pt0.com/2012/04/16/why-lila-rose-doesnt-speak-for-pro-life-feminists/

    http://www.fem2pt0.com/2012/03/27/susan-b-anthony-was-slutshamed-too/

    Thank you for asking.”

  4. Thank you very much, Jen R and Marysia.