The 'whole life' position includes the right to life for the pre-born

 The 'whole life' position includes the right to life for the pre-born
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 The “whole life” ethic is the heart of the pro-life Democratic message. We advocate a “pro-life for the whole life” position. This means that human life — with inherent dignity — begins in the womb and doesn't end until natural death. It is a consistent position and there are no gray areas.

However, abortion-rights advocates are distorting the “whole life” language, offering excuses for not including life in the womb under the whole-life umbrella.

It is a deliberate attempt to mislead and it cannot be permitted.

The whole-life ethic does not make exceptions for abortion. Being “whole life” means advocating for justice for all — from before birth to natural death and every moment in-between. When it comes to abortion, we acknowledge that there are two lives at stake and we must support both mothers and their children. 

We can agree with our pro-choice friends on many whole-life issues: opposing the death penalty, opposing assisted suicide, opposing unjust wars, etc. But opposition to abortion cannot be treated differently; it is critical to a whole-life position. Abortion reflects the key problems at the core of all attacks on life: claiming that a situation is hopeless and can be solved only with violence and as a result, treating life as disposable.

New life in the womb can present challenging and difficult circumstances, but abortion-rights advocates view these situations not as challenging but as hopeless. How often do elude to the fact that, the nation will never provide support for women and so abortion will always be necessary? They offer to eliminate life as the correct solution to the problem — just as others defend waging war because it’s supposedly impossible to negotiate peace, or executing criminals because they supposedly can’t be rehabilitated, or letting sick people kill themselves because society supposedly will never provide for end-of-life care.

The whole-life position refuses to accept violence as the answer to a problem, whether the violence is war, the death penalty, assisted suicide or abortion. Whether we are talking about victims of sex-trafficking, or domestic violence, or women who feel unsupported due to their economic situation, we do not offer disposing of people as the solution. The whole-life approach offers more compassion to solve problems, not simply to end the life of the person causing the “problem.”

In the wonderful —but sometimes difficult circumstances of pregnancy — the pro-life and whole-life position dares to hope. We offer a message of optimism to protect life. We believe that all human life is valuable and that we should advocate on every level to protect it, whether it be fighting human-rights abuses, opposing the death penalty, or advocating for a living wage so that families can put food on the table. We look for solutions and we advocate for an opportunity for a better quality of life and we also advocate for the right to live.

And we dare to hope that solutions are possible to protect both the right to life and the right to pursue a better quality of life. For women facing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy, we would look not to an abortion clinic but to one of the many organizations that help women through the pregnancy and beyond.

Job training, affordable child-care and support to stay in school are other ways in which whole-life advocates can extend the whole-life ethic to unborn human beings and to support the parents. In the case of a prenatal diagnosis, the whole-life position would support perinatal hospice to counsel and help families with this challenging situation. We need a much stronger net of supports such as these in today’s America. But we dare to hope that weaving that strong net is possible.

We cannot be silent when people talk about being “whole life” without protecting unborn human beings. The Democratic Party has been the party of civil rights, human rights and hopeful solutions. We started Medicare and Social Security for the elderly, State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for children and protections for immigrants and the poor.

We have a history of speaking out for the vulnerable. It is not the position of Democrats to say we can do nothing and to allow — even promote — violence because we see no better choice.

The whole-life position means that we don't only protect the parts of life we find convenient.

Kristen Day is the executive director of Democrats For Life of America.