What does it mean to be “pro-life?”

To be pro-life, one must be more than simply against abortion. To be pro-life, one must embrace all human life, whether that life be in the womb, in hospice, in prison, in a homeless shelter. To do otherwise is to deny the meaning of the word. The prefix “pro” means “for.” To be pro-life is to be for life, in any and all circumstances. It is not to selectively apply certain principles to a small range of situations. It is not to run from moral dilemmas, but to answer them with authenticity.

The Catholic Church’s teaching on the value and dignity of all human life is clear:

“Human life is sacred.” (CCC 2258)

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.” (CCC 2270)

“If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means.” (CCC 2267)

“Whatever its motives or means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.” (CCC 2277)

“Research or experimentation on the human being cannot legitimate acts that are in themselves contrary to the dignity of persons and to the moral law.” (CCC 2295)

“All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.” (CCC 2308)

Human life is sacred.

The teachings I listed above apply to abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, medical research,  and just war, but the list is endless. Simply put, all issues dealing with the human person are life issues. I am encouraged and inspired by the young people I have met who work for a truly consistent pro-life ethic: men and women who are concerned, not only with abortion, but with issues like sex-trafficking, the exploitation of migrants, help for the poor and vulnerable, and the equal dignity of men and women.

Being pro-life is being more than just anti-abortion. Life in the womb is sacred. Life outside the womb is sacred as well. That is why all of this matters. Because life, given to us by God, is sacred.

And with that, I leave you with a scene from one of my favorite musicals-turned-movies, Fiddler on the Roof. 

“To life!”