By John Pavlovitz
You tell me that you’re voting for Donald Trump for one reason: because you’re pro-life.
Despite everything you’ve seen and know about this man (much of which you openly lament), you say that you just can’t support someone who doesn’t share your burden, and that you’re voting solely this issue.
Life, you say is the ultimate deal breaker for you.
I wish that were true.
I actually don’t believe you’re pro-life, I believe you’re anti-abortion, which is a far more selective and convenient defense of Humanity. From where I’m standing it seems as though “Life” for you comprises a very narrow demographic—one that bears a striking resemblance to you. The unborn are easy to advocate for because you can idealize them into something palatable to you, something benign and comfortable, something in your own image.
You see, it’s not that you’re really pro-life, you’re pro-straight, white, Christian fetuses.
I can tell by how often your heavy burden for the sanctity of life evaporates upon delivery. In so many cases this compassion really has a nine-month expiration date, as if life begins at conception but ends upon leaving the birth canal. The completion of that third trimester is actually the shelf life of your passionate regard for much of the living.
Because if that life you say you so treasure one day converts to Islam, you label it dangerous, you see it as a threat, you applaud suggestions of its expulsion, you deny it open worship.
If that life eventually comes out as LGBTQ, you condemn its soul, harass it in your workplace and church, try to prevent its marriage, tell it where and when it can use a public bathroom. You bully it and drive it to suicide.
If that life has brown skin and wears baggy pants and gets gunned down during a traffic stop, you not only have little grief over its loss, but readily blame it for its own execution.
If that life is strapped to a prison gurney and pumped full of drugs that will cease its lungs from expanding while its terrified mind comprehends it all, you celebrate the occasion as justice being served—after a last meal you resent having to pay for.
If that life has to endure its formative years in overcrowded, grossly underfunded public schools, you tell it to “pull itself up by its own bootstraps,” while nestled in the cloistered, privileged, gated community of a Suburbia where bootstraps come with a birth certificate.
If that life has working parents who can’t make a living wage, you label it a lazy, unproductive drain on society always looking for handouts and trying to work the system to its advantage.
If that life needs healthcare because its undeveloped heart can barely beat on its own, you’re suddenly empty of empathy and low on generosity—unless it can pull its own weight and pay the premiums.
If that life doesn’t eat enough fruits and vegetables because it lives in urban areas where such things are scarce and financially prohibitive, you ridicule its obesity and sickness as signs of cultural overindulgence and gluttony.
If that life is sexually assaulted, you want to blame it for its promiscuity and immodesty, and wonder why it didn’t just keep its legs closed and why it can’t just move on and why it is so easily offended by “locker room banter.”
If that life is one day sent overseas to defend liberties here; separated from spouses, children and parents, and placed directly in harm’s way, you’re far more cavalier exposing its vulnerability and far less concerned about whether or not it is sacred.
If that life doesn’t reside in the continental U.S. or speak English and comes here fleeing oppression, poverty and war you’ll never understand, you ask it to go back and “go through the proper channels,” instead of the barely sea-worthy makeshift raft or the stinking, stifling storage container it nearly died in trying to get here.
I wish you were pro-life, my friend—I really do.
I wish all human beings mattered as much to you as Caucasian embryos do. I wish that once these diverse babies are thrust out into a violent, difficult, painful world—many enduring disadvantages, obstacles and trials you will likely never experience—that you actually gave more of a damn about them.
Because if you did, Life would be far bigger to you.
You would want to do more than prevent abortions.
As vigorously, passionately and loudly…
You’d want to prevent hunger and poverty.
You’d want to prevent illiteracy and child mortality and forced prostitution.
You’d want to prevent racism and bigotry and homophobia.
You’d want kids in the “bad neighborhood” to have great schools and teachers just like your kids have there in the “good neighborhood.”
You’d want to support single parents and the terminally ill and the mentally ill by helping them carry their oversized burden.
You’d want religious freedom even for people who aren’t Christian.
You’d want LGBTQ people to live and work and worship and love as they desire.
You’d want people of color not to have to fear law enforcement and not to be disproportionately incarcerated.
You’d want fewer guns in the hands of kids and criminals and those with mental illness.
You’d want to prevent violence and workplace termination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
You’d want a living wage for all people who work hard, and healthcare for their children that won’t have to replace their daily meals.
These might also be deal breakers for you.
I am a person of Life. That is what my faith calls me to be.
I don’t celebrate when a woman terminates a pregnancy (I honestly don’t know anyone who does), but my advocacy for life also goes well beyond the womb, and includes a far more diverse swath of Humanity than only those who look, speak or worship the way I do. It includes immigrants and Muslims and Atheists and my enemies.
I wish we were partners in that wider affirmation of the living, because that would be cause of celebration and reason for hope and a visible sign of America’s greatness.
I am pro-all life because it is all sacred; not only when its heart begins beating, but as it beats and when it struggles to beat and up until it ceases to beat.
I defend all life equally. I celebrate it all fully. I protect it all passionately.
I really wish you did too.
About the Author: John Pavlovitz is a pastor and blogger from Wake Forest, North Carolina. In the past two years, his blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said has reached a diverse audience of millions of people. A 19-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John’s mission is to help the Church become a more compassionate, loving environment for all people. He serves on staff at North Raleigh Community Church and just finished his first book called Building a Bigger Table, due in early 2017.