Why "Pro-Life" Is A Harmful Misnomer

Young woman in a doctor's office
Young woman in a doctor's office

I cannot think of a more charged conversation to try to engage in publicly than one about terminating pregnancies.

Of course there is good reason for it: there is so much on the line.

What I would like to respectfully suggest is that the "Pro-Life" conversation about how to handle an unplanned pregnancy ought to include more than just the life of the fetus. Of course the fetus is living, and can be given the time to develop into a viable, vibrant child (if all goes well). That is not ever in question, for anyone in this conversation. But the fetus is not the only living thing in this equation.

I have listened to many "Pro-Lifers" give their understandably passionate reasons why they are against terminating a pregnancy. But I have yet to hear any of them talk about the life of the mother as a factor. It seems to me that caring about these questions qualify as being "pro-life":

  • Is the woman (& her partner, if applicable) financially stable?
  • Does she have the means to have good pre-natal health care?
  • Does she have the finances to be able to feed a child, clothe a child, provide health care and all the other things needed to rear a child well and safely?
  • Is she in a personal situation to be able to make room for this child in her life?
  • Is it her desire to have a child?
  • Is bringing a child into the world right now the best thing for her and her contributions to society?

When the conversation is focused solely on the potential life of the fetus, what is being implied is that women really are, first and foremost, baby-makers. Please take a moment to think about that, if you haven't before.

I am not trying to deny the role that women have in perpetuating the human species, not at all. I am simply saying that only talking about the fetus in this conversation completely overlooks important, quite relevant factors in the life of the woman, all of which is relevant to the quality of life for all involved.

If we can allow the factors of the woman's life and situation to be a part of determining whether it is desirable, or even ethical, to let a pregnancy continue, then we are taking seriously what Jesus is attributed with saying, in John 10:10. "I came [into the world] that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

I am pro-choice because I am pro-life, in the bigger picture sense.