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Why I Am Pro-Life

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Before the SLU Students for Life (SFL) Cemetery of Innocence display was stolen in it’s entirety last month—and then partially stolen again after it was re-set up a week later—another show of protest to the pro-life display was raised in the form of sidewalk chalking. Little more than 24 hours after the 176 crosses, which represented lives lost or affected by homicide, the death penalty, abortion, and poverty, were set up for the first time in the quad in front of Dubourg, a student wrote various statistics and questions in chalk on the West Pine sidewalk in front of the display. While some of the statistics seemed to grant more credibility to the purpose of the crosses display, it was clear that the chalker’s intent was to undermine the display’s pro-life nature. The chalking was frustrating and offensive to SFL club members who put time and energy into the pro-life cause week after week. That frustration and offense was dwarfed by the hurt and exasperation that resulted when the whole display was stolen the next day. SFL club members and supporters have responded to the incidences with various emotions since their occurrence. As for my response, there were two questions written in chalk that have stood out to me and helped me process these shows of protests. One question was “Are you listening?” and the other was “Are you pro-life or pro-birth?” So let me answer these questions.

The chalking and the thefts have made it difficult not to listen. They have made it clear that something is wrong. Something about the pro-life movement isn’t reaching—or isn’t working for—a group of people. There is a lot of tension, so much so that, instead of those who disagree with pro-life views talking directly to pro-life people or SLU’s pro-life club, they protest by chalking and theft. I am listening, and I am responding. My response is this: I am pro-life, not just pro-birth. Before you quit reading this and say that I am lying, I ask you to please listen to me, too.

I truly am pro-life. Every. Single. Life. Matters.

That includes your life and my life, the lives of those who have committed murders and heinous acts of terror, the lives of those who are poor and homeless and those who have disabilities. The lives of those who are so old or ill that there just doesn’t seem to be a reason left to live. The lives of the unborn, the hungry, and those at high risk of violence. The lives of those who are facing a pregnancy that is unwanted, untimely, or very inconvenient. The lives of those who have had one abortion or ten abortions. The lives of those who disagree with me and who hate what I stand for. The lives of those who undermined the SFL crosses display through chalking and theft. Every single one of these lives and more matter to me.

When I say that I am pro-life, I don’t mean that I want to just take away a “woman’s right to choose” and force them to carry a pregnancy to term without offering them any help. No, I mean I want to build a world in which every choice is life-giving to all affected. I want to build a world in which our question isn’t “Whose life matters more?” but rather “How do we show that every life matters?” This isn’t a simple task and the solutions themselves are often a whole other controversy. But they are solutions worth fighting for and controversies worth sorting out, for the sake every human life involved. My view of what it means to be pro-life is not necessarily the view of all pro-lifers. And the pro-life movement, including the SLU SFL club, has failed in so many ways throughout the years. I, myself, have failed to be truly pro-life and I am not proud of that. But our failures and shortcomings do not make the movement invalid. Perhaps it is pro-life to admit that life is not perfect, and to bear mistakes. As a pro-life leader, I truly care about every life because I believe that every human person has dignity and purpose from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. And that dignity and purpose are worth preserving even when we can’t see it or understand it or it seems to conflict with another’s livelihood.

So to the people who chalked in front of the Cemetery of Innocence and who stole the crosses: as a pro-life person and the president of SLU SFL, I am trying to listen, and I want to listen more. Talk to me. Because I am pro-life and not just pro-birth, your life—your opinions, your experiences, your story—matters to me. Help me to be a better pro-life person.  

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