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Along with several leaders of prominent Christian organizations, IRD President Mark Tooley has signed a statement to uphold the traditional meaning of pro-life, against attempts to dilute the term and advance errant environmentalism campaigns.
Read the full statement below and access the PDF version here.
Recently some environmentalists have portrayed certain of their causes as intrinsic to the pro-life movement. The tactic often involves appealing to a “seamless garment” of support for life, or to being “consistently pro-life” or “completely pro-life.” As leaders of the pro-life movement, we reject that portrayal as disingenuous and dangerous to our efforts to protect the lives of unborn children. The term pro-life originated historically in the struggle to end abortion on demand and continues to be used in public discourse overwhelmingly in that sense. To ignore that is at best sloppy communication and at worst intentional deception. The life in pro-life denotes not quality of life but life itself. The term denotes opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies. In stark contrast, most environmental causes promoted as pro-life involve little threat to human life itself, and no intent to kill anyone. For example, even if one grants the exaggerated numbers and harms claimed by the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) in its recent quarter-million-dollar advertising campaign that claimed, “being pro-life means protecting the unborn from mercury pollution,” mercury exposure due to power-plant emissions does not kill infants. Consequently, calling mercury pollution and similar environmental causes pro-life obscures the meaning of pro-life. And thanking politicians with 100% pro-abortion voting records (even some who support partial-birth abortion) for their “pro-life” position because they supported restrictions on mercury emissions, while rebuking some with 100% pro-life voting records because they opposed or didn’t support the new restrictions, as EEN’s campaign did, will confuse voters, divide the pro-life vote, and postpone the end of abortion on demand in America. This doesn’t mean we should ignore environmental risks. It does mean they should not be portrayed as pro-life. Genuinely pro-life people will usually desire to reduce other risks as well—guided by cost/benefit analysis. But to call those issues “pro-life” is to obscure the meaning of the term. Two fundamental principles distinguish truly pro-life issues (like abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research) from environmental issues. First and foremost, truly pro-life issues are issues of actual life and death, while environmental issues tend to be matters of health. Second, truly pro-life issues address actual intent to kill innocent people, whether the unborn, the gravely ill, or the aged, while environmental issues do not. If environmental advocates still want to support mercury-emission reductions or other environmental causes, let them do so honestly and above board. But they should not promote those causes under the pro-life banner. That is at best badly misinformed, at worst dishonest. We call on environmentalists to cease portraying such causes as pro-life and join us in working diligently to reduce and end abortion on demand in the United States, which every year kills about 1.2 million babies, amounting to over 54 million in the 39 years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Signed,
The Institute on Religion & Democracy
1023 15th Street NW, Suite 601, Washington, DC 20005-2601
P: (202) 682-4131 F: (202) 682-4136