The pro-life movement is misunderstood by many who have been guided by misconceptions. These common misconceptions have driven a path to obscurity from the reality of what is truly means be pro-life. The whole concept of being “pro-life” as in being in favor of both the woman and child has become completely taboo. But why? We are in a specific time in history in which most of the country is completely divided. It seems as if no one can truly be for both sides in any issue, but especially this one. The truth is to be truly pro-life is to be pro-all life, pro-humanity if you will. That is standing up for the lives of women and men no matter their color or country of origin, convicted felons facing death row, and every human no matter how small. Dr. Mildred Jefferson once said, “The fight for the right to life is not the cause of a special few, but the cause of every man, woman and child who cares not only about his or her own family, but the whole family of man.”
The pro-life movement is rooted in the belief that every life matters. The disabled, children in foster care, and those in poverty are just a few examples of those who are not and should not be forgotten. “The womb to the tomb,” also known as conception to natural death, is a key statement and belief to those who are pro-life. The unborn is included, but not prioritized. The fight for life does not stop in the delivery room. Perhaps because fetuses do not have a voice, the advocacy for the unborn seems the most crucial, but that is not the case. It does not matter which stage of life someone may be in. The fundamental right to live is the most basic human right we as humans are given.
According to the DPIC (Death Penalty Information Center), there has been 1,440 executions since 1976. This statistic was last updated on November 17th, 2016 following an execution in Georgia. In the year of 2014, 35 people were executed. In 2015, the number dropped to 28. So far in 2016, there has only been a total of 18 executions. Because there is only a month left in the year, it is safe to say there is a pattern of decline of lives lost on death row. This looks encouraging to those involved with the pro-life movement, but it is not until the death penalty is illegal across the nation will it be a victory worth celebrating. There are still 31 out of 50 states in America that allow the death penalty as a legal form of punishment.
Unlike capital punishment, abortion is legal throughout all 50 states of America. There are more terminated pregnancies in just one year than the total amount of lives lost on death row. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there were 699,202 abortions in the year 2012 alone. 2012 is the most recent year for which the CDC has released statistics. The number of abortions in the US increased gradually from 1973, then peaked in 1990 and has been on the decline since then.
The decline of abortions is most likely due to the more recent availability of birth control in the United States. IUDs are a much more effective form of birth control. They are more reliable significantly because there is little to no room for human error like there would be with remembering to take the pill. It is evident that with more birth control, there are less unintended pregnancies that result in termination. Planned Parenthood is the world’s leading provider of birth control.
Another major misconception is not all of those who are pro-life are against Planned Parenthood, but simply against the abortions provided there. Planned Parenthood provides more than 270,000 pap tests and more than 360,000 breast exams in a single year, critical services in detecting cancer. They also provide more than 4.2 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including more than 650,000 HIV tests.
Three percent of Planned Parenthood’s government funding goes towards abortion procedures. A scarce some who oppose abortion rights think this statistic is purposely misleading the public. In a New York Post, National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote a series of analogies to argue that the 3 percent figure “is crafted to obscure the reality of Planned Parenthood’s business”:
“Such cracked reasoning could be used to obscure the purpose of any organization.
The sponsors of the New York City Marathon could count each small cup of water they hand out (some 2 million cups, compared with 45,000 runners) and say they are mainly in the hydration business.
Or Major League Baseball teams could say that they sell about 20 million hot dogs and play 2,430 games in a season, so baseball is only .012 percent of what they do.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood want to use its health services as leverage to preserve its abortions, as if you can’t get one without the other.
Of course, this is nonsense.”
Planned Parenthood services help prevent approximately 579,000 unintended pregnancies in a single year. Even if they are using all the health services they provide as “leverage to preserve abortions,” they still are doing their job to prevent unintended pregnancies from occurring. This results in less abortions in the long run.
With the new President elect, some are concerned Planned Parenthood could possibly be defunded by Congress. What others might not know is that other clinics provide similar health care for men and women similar to Planned Parenthood. Casey Mattox, a senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom who focuses on pro-life issues, found that “Planned Parenthood is really a small part of the national health care picture in America.” According to data collected by the two groups Alliance Defending Freedom and Charlotte Lozier Institute, there are currently 13,540 clinics providing comprehensive health care for women, versus 665 Planned Parenthood locations. This means there are 20 comprehensive care clinics for every Planned Parenthood. The two groups argue there are plenty of health centers — that also can receive federal funding — to absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients should the organization be defunded by Congress.
If someone found themselves already pregnant, there are plenty of clinics that provide additional help to both the mother and child. One example is Birthright International, a non-profit organization that treats each woman as an individual who deserves love and respect, as well as personal attention to her unique situation. They offer information and referrals to help clients meet their emotional and material needs. There are 350 Birthrights in Canada and the United States. Mary Berney is a CoPreident of Birthright International. When interviewed and asked what services are offered to women who wish to terminate their pregnancy she said, “We cannot offer her any help to terminate her pregnancy. We can just listen and offer our help to have her baby and tell her that we are available should she change her mind.” There are however, specific services offered to women who choose to give birth and keep their child. “We have many referrals and ways to help her. We can refer her to a licensed agency that is better qualified to help her make an adoption plan.” The organization supports both the mother and child in which Berney says, “We work with the mother and we feel that by helping the mother, we save the baby. Our mission statement is It is the right of every pregnant woman to give birth and of every baby to be born.” Birthright is interdenominational and does not evangelize in any way. In addition, they also do not affiliate with any organizations.
Of course those affiliated with the pro-life movement are not the only ones being misunderstood by pre-conceived judgements. Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. This is simply the belief that a woman should have the right to choose for herself with no pressure from the government or anyone else. This lack of understanding of the opposite viewpoint is the main culprit for the division. There is no black or white solution to this issue, just like most other political issues. It is the failure to recognize and sympathize with the other view that creates so much separation. Audre Lorde once said, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” Perhaps if we focus on diminishing the misconceptions of both sides versus arguing on which is right, we can work towards unity and celebrate something we all share and have in common, no matter how different – the gift of life.