“Face it, blacks. Michael Brown let you down.”

Does that headline get your hackles up? It got mine up. But then I read the article, and it was devastating. The author describes the experience of hoping that this time, someone would care that an unarmed black kid had been killed by the police. Maybe this time, someone would think that Mike Brown — and his community — had gotten far worse than they deserved. Until people went looking for reasons why he must have brought it on himself.

For a moment there, things were looking pretty good. A boy shot multiple times with his hands up. College bound. Poor. Innocent. And in response: helicopters and tanks. Maybe this time, we thought, they would believe us.

But that’s all been ruined.

We now have all sorts of reasons to make us doubt Brown’s humanity. He may have stolen some cigarillos. He may have been facing the officer when he was shot. He got shot in the top of the head, which might mean that he was surrendering, or might mean he was being defiant. He made amateur rap songs. Perhaps worst of all, he’s been caught grimacing at a camera making a contorted peace sign, and it turns out that he was pretty tall.

And Fox News has been trying to cast doubt on whether he was actually going to go to college in the first place.

All signs that his life was worth less than we might have hoped.

The inevitable had happened. Apologists for police violence had successfully painted Mike Brown as a “thug” who deserved what he got. If the question is “what could a black person do that would make their death not their own fault?”, there’s no answer. The question should be “why are black people required to prove — over and over again, in a rigged game — that they don’t deserve to be killed?”

Remember literacy tests for voting? They were ostensibly in place to ensure that applicants were educated enough to qualify as voters. But in reality:

Determination of who “passed” and who “failed” was entirely up to the whim of the Registrar of Voters — all of whom were white. In actuality, whites almost always “passed” no matter how many questions they missed, and Blacks almost always “failed’ in the selective judgement of the Registrar.

If you don’t want to grant someone a status in the first place, any excuse to revoke it will do. So it is with the right not to be killed. If people wanted to see an 18-year-old black man as a fully human person deserving of the right to life, then video of him allegedly swiping a handful of cigars and shoving a store clerk wouldn’t change that. Photos of him making a hand signal wouldn’t change that. Rap lyrics wouldn’t change that. That he was tall and heavy wouldn’t change that. How do I know? Because white people miss those questions on the humanity test, as it were, all the time without being dismissed as thugs who need killing.

For obvious reasons, nobody who considers themselves pro-life should embrace an ideology that requires human beings to pass tests to be considered worthy of living.

And speaking of pro-life, consider this: In the United States, the abortion rate is highest among black women. Black women in America have 40 abortions per 100,000 women — almost 4 times the rate among non-Hispanic white women. That’s 360,000 black lives ending in abortion every year. That’s who knows how many black women ending up in clinics like Kermit Gosnell’s. How many of those abortions would have been avoided if black Americans, on average, had the same healthcare, access to resources, and life prospects as white Americans? If we acted like black lives, born and unborn, really matter?

Personally, not speaking for All Our Lives as a whole, I feel a deep ambivalence about the focus on the Roe v. Wade anniversary in general and the March for Life in particular. That said, All Our Lives believes that being pro-life means being pro-everybody’s-life. That’s why we support the For Peace & ALL Life Meetup and March group at today’s event. Thanks for representing, folks, and keep warm!

Three years ago, I attended a conference at Princeton that was intended to bring pro-life and pro-choice advocates together to find common ground. Its success was, shall we say, limited. But one moment of vehement agreement came when pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike expressed frustration with politicians who talk about their opposition to abortion and respect for life while at the same time cutting funding for social welfare programs.

You see, pregnancy assistance centers can’t meet the needs of the women and children they serve on their own. One of the services many centers provide is helping mothers connect with programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) so they and their children can get enough to eat. Centers like Birthright in Salina, Kansas:

“If this shutdown continues, girls won’t get the vouchers they need for baby formula,” said Linda Campbell, director of Birthright. “We will have hungry babies in Salina. A lot of our clients are very low-income. If they don’t get their WIC vouchers, who knows what will happen.

“I can’t see letting our babies go hungry and starve to death.”

The shutdown has left a portion of the federal workforce furloughed and services suspended, including funding for the WIC program that helps families up to 180 percent of the poverty line.

Campbell said Birthright, a crisis pregnancy service, helps women in need, giving emergency formula and other help. She said many of her clients are on WIC.

The government shutdown isn’t just a political game — it’s hurting real women and children.

It’s not just WIC, either. Domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers that receive federal funds authorized under the Violence Against Women Act and other programs face critical losses of funding. And then there are the cancelled cancer trials, the inability of the CDC to respond quickly to a widespread salmonella outbreak, the debilitating effects of loss of income on the households of federal employees, and so many more life-diminishing effects.

Democrats for Life is challenging pro-life groups to call for an end to the shutdown. We join them in that challenge.

US supporters: Please call and ask your Representative to end the shutdown with no strings attached. You can find your House members using Contacting the Congress. Please call and make the pro-life case against the shutdown.

A new birthing center is opening in Buffalo, New York.

It will be only the third free-standing birthing center in New York State when it opens in November, offering nurse-midwifery services for low-risk pregnancies based on natural childbirth.

The birthing center also is likely to be the only one in the United States combined with an abortion clinic, as it is a project of Buffalo Womenservices, 2500 Main St.

I’m not sure what to say about this. I think providers offering prenatal and birth services should consider both mother and child to be patients deserving of the best possible care. It’s hard for me to reconcile that with the practice of elective abortion. I know that’ll piss some people off. It’s not that I subscribe to the idea that abortion providers are, by definition, depraved and callously indifferent to human life. (Though you can make a case for that with people like Kermit Gosnell.) I know that many are just trying to help women. But I just don’t get how the same entity could be a baby, a patient, whose life the clinic will do all they can to preserve, on one side of the building and a mere “product of conception” to be removed (lethally, it must be said) on the other. That kind of dissonance doesn’t seem healthy.

But healthy or not, it isn’t new. It’s not even unusual. Armies have doctors, and sometimes enemies become patients. In fact, military doctors are legally and ethically obligated to treat enemy soldiers. Prisons have doctors, even for inmates on Death Row. And I wouldn’t want them not to. So I guess I come down with Karen Swallow Prior on this one:

“We should welcome any place that cultivates the life-affirming choice of birth. This is about choosing life, and that is positive,” said Karen Swallow Prior, a former Buffalo resident who was involved in anti-abortion activism here.

Mainly, I just hope that Womenservices’ birthing center sees a lot more use than the other side of their operation.

In response to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s #AbortionMatters blog carnival, Life Matters Journal is sponsoring a #LifeMatters tweetfest/blogfest.

HOW: Make your profile picture one of the #LifeMatters tweetfest/blogfest images we share, to stand in solidarity for life! Then post early and often with the #LifeMatters hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, your blogs — however you can spread the message! We want the media to know that our message is one based in human rights, sound science, and solid ethics. That only by laying a foundation based on the respect for life and dignity of each and every human being can we ever hope for a future peace.

All Our Lives will be participating, and we’d like to encourage our supporters to do so as well. In particular, it would be great to see posts/tweets/etc that really engage with the reasons that people give as to why abortion matters to them.

Bodily integrity matters. The ability to plan childbearing matters. Mothers’ health matters. Having enough resources to care for one’s kids matters. How can we best honor those values while maintaining a commitment to sustaining everyone’s life, before and after birth?

All Our Lives will not have a presence of its own at the 2013 March for Life, but we are co-sponsoring the “For Peace & ALL Life” meetup/march group. It will be a great opportunity to meet other consistent life/whole life proponents.

Co-sponsored by Life Matters Journal, Secular Pro-Life, Consistent Life, Students for a Fair Society and continuing to seek other partners in the meetup/marching event!The March for Life is often portrayed and publicized as an event to protest against the (legal) killing of the preborn human among us. But what if it meant something more? What if the rallying cry in our ranks was one that stood for peace and all life? What if we stood not only for the preborn, but for the criminal, the prisoners of war, innocent civilians everywhere, the aged and the disabled, the depressed and the bullied, people of every race, gender, faith, sexuality, size, level of dependency, location, nationality?

If you are a supporter of the Consistent Ethic of Life, or just want to see our world engaged in a conversation that does not exclude any human life from consideration, please join us for a meetup and march with us at the March for Life. We represent the fullness of the pro-life mission!

The plan is merely to have a space and a time to share in the community of our little movement that encompasses the anti-abortion cause, but to be strengthened in the knowledge that we are not alone. Network with others in the CL cause, learn about opportunities available, and help to spread the message for peace and all life!

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.)