Are we really pro-life?

According to this Gallup poll, the number of pro-choice Americans is down to 41% of those polled, which is obviously encouraging for the pro-life movement. Gallup started polling Americans in 1995 which had the pro-choice side in a commanding lead, but over the years it seems the American view point has been slowly shifting to the pro-life side.

Of course, this poll posed the question in regards to abortion and not necessarily a complete pro-life stance because if you look at the pro-life stance as a whole, it’s not just about abortion. For many Catholics it’s obvious that abortion is wrong; it’s murder of an unborn child, it causing incredible damage to the women who have the procedures, etc.
What other sides of the pro-life argument are we ignoring? Because I think it’s easy for us to look at abortion and see it as evil, but can we do the same with other pro-life issues?

Euthanasia: refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering, the word comes from Greek and basically means “good death”. It “is illegal in all states of the United States. Physician aid-in-dying (PAD), or assisted suicide, is legal in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Montana. The key difference between euthanasia and PAD is who administers the lethal dose of medication. Euthanasia entails the physician or another third party administering the medication, whereas PAD requires the patient to self-administer the medication and to determine whether and when to do this”.

CCC: 2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable
“Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.”
Read CCC 2278 which goes into “over-zealous” treatments and when it is morally acceptable to end those types of treatments.

Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide often say that everyone has a right to die, a right to their own death and there is a great deal of misplaced compassion towards those who are sick and dying. We should have compassion for those who are suffering, we should pray for relief and peace in their trials, and we should always pray for God’s will to be done.
Something specific that concerns about euthanasia and its practice is when ordinary means are denied from patients in order to “ease their sufferings”. For example, in the case of Terri Schiavo she was classified as in a “vegetative state” but her parents believed she was still conscious to some degree. Her husband, who became her legal guardian while she was hospitalized, petitioned the state to allow her feeding tube to be removed. Her parents and husband fought in multiple different court cases and with each verdict her feeding tube was removed, or reinserted based on which party won the case. Her parents argued that Terri was Catholic and wouldn’t want to violate the teachings on euthanasia, but in the end Terri died from dehydration in 2005.
I then read this terrifying article from 2005 saying that death from dehydration is usually peaceful, but let’s be real, the person who wrote that article has never died from dehydration. Maybe that’s a naive statement to make but…maybe not.
Obviously, I can’t pretend to know a lot about medical practices and biology, but how does the societal view on dehydration and starvation shift from barbaric to merciful and compassionate?

Capital Punishment: is a legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. The judicial decree that someone be punished in this manner is a death sentence, while the actual process of killing the person is an execution

CCC 2267: Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person…the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent” (whole quote from CCC, final quote from Blessed JPII, Evangelium vitae).

A lot of the arguments for the death penalty are that it is a deterrent for others committing those crimes, saves tax payers money, and ultimately saves lives. There are a lot of studies that point to both sides of the deterrence argument, a lot of research that support both sides of the money argument, and a lot of speculation about whether or not it saves lives.
All this inconclusive research does not convince me that it is worth it to take a human’s life.

How can we say that at x amount of money, a person is now so much of a burden we should kill them? When did people become a means to an end?

Ultimately, the death penalty is denying a person’s chance for receiving God’s infinite mercy. The Death Penalty Information Website claims that since 1973, over 140 people have been exonerated and freed from death row. How many other lives were taken because they were “guilty”?
When did we decide that we could play God and determine who deserves to die? We seem to believe that we are entitled to everything in life, even when our life should end. Why do we think we can deny God’s mercy to other people, His infinite mercy that He is so desperately trying to give us?

If we are going to call ourselves pro-life, we need to know what that means. How much harder is it to defend the lives of those who are suffering and those convicted of crimes? But Jesus did, and we are called to love like Him.
I encourage you to educate yourselves on these issues, especially when it comes to legislation that you can vote on. We need to be able to say “I love babies” and peacefully pray outside of clinics, but we also need to acknowledge God’s mercy, the redemptive power of suffering, the beauty and dignity of every human life.

More gold from the CCC:
Euthanasia: 2278, 2324, 2277, 2277 (see also Pain)
Death penalty: (bringing about death to others 2261, 2269, 2277, 2296) 2267,
Mercy: 1847, 2840

Caitlin

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2 thoughts on “Are we really pro-life?

  1. If we are going to call ourselves pro-life, we need to know what that means.” Job well done! Just the other day I had a discussion about capital punishment and how it seems to be the forgotten pro-life issue in today’s discourse, and I applaud you on this entry.

    Also, as another Catholic girl in college, I cannot tell you all enough how wonderful your blog is. Thanks for writing!

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