The $64,000 Question – Answered

So, feeling like you do about both Romney and Obama, who ARE you going to vote for?
That’s more or less what I was asked by a friend recently, and I promised I would be answering here.  There’s going to be a long and complicated explanation before I get to the answer, though, so get comfortable. 🙂
I get the feeling that my liberal friends expect I’m going to go with Romney for “pro-life reasons.”  Meanwhile my conservative Catholic friends seem convinced that I am an Obama supporter and am headed straight to hell.  Gosh, it’s so inconvenient of me to get all complicated and refuse to hop into one of the little boxes we all like to put each other in.
If I were going to self-identify as a member of a political party, I’d call myself a Democrat.  I’m more or less a bleeding heart liberal, if you want to know the truth.  When I take that “who should you vote for” survey that’s been making the rounds this political season, I’m told I should vote for the Green Party candidate, that I agree with about 95% of her positions.  Of course, as Sister Louise would have said, there’s always that 5%.  And what a 5% it is.
I like President Obama.  I think he’s a good man with good intentions.  Pretty much everything the haters say about him isn’t true.  In my opinion he’s been quite effective–it’s just that his detractors don’t approve of his achievements.  Like Obamacare, which I’m excited about, even though I’d prefer a completely government-run system like the ones in Europe. (There.  I said it.)
HOWEVER.  Obviously, if you know me or have read pretty much anything I’ve written including the title of this blog, you know that abortion is a huge issue for me.  And apparently it’s become a huge issue for our President as well, an issue on which he has come down firmly and stridently on the wrong side.  That was why I did not vote for him last time.  Even though I liked him more then than I do now, honestly, I just could not bring myself to push the button and thereby tacitly approve of his radically pro-choice position (and yes, I do believe he is more radical in this area than many other pro-choice politicians).
Now, I don’t think it is any way wrong or sinful to cast a vote for a pro-choice politician (if that is not your REASON for voting for him) in the presence of other proportionate reasons for your vote.  I don’t rule out ever voting for a pro-choice candidate in the future.  What is a proportionate reason is open to one’s prudential judgment, reached by informing one’s conscience about Church teachings, studying the issues, and ideally praying over the decision.  But there are other reasons that I won’t be voting for President Obama.
Frankly, his HHS mandate INFURIATED me, and a lot of other “progressive” Catholics.  So many stood with him on his health care plan BECAUSE of their Catholic faith, and then he basically spit on them.  I know that a lot of you will just think I secretly hate women and don’t want them to get birth control but this is seriously a religious freedom issue, whether you believe it or not.  Still, I don’t think in the end the mandate will pass constitutional muster, so it may not matter on a practical level, but it speaks to a part of the President’s character that I do not admire.
It’s the same part of his character, I believe, which has led him to quietly allow torture to continue; and to expand on his power to spy on, to imprison, to even execute Americans without trial or explanation.  And I’m not going to wear myself out providing the links for all this.  I’ve read and posted many over the past several weeks and can’t get anyone to even discuss them with me.  Republicans like this side of Obama and don’t want to draw attention to it, and Democrats don’t like it and don’t want to draw attention to it.  But someone needs to.  Ditto the drone warfare, which I knew nothing about until recently.  Part of what makes me call myself a Democrat is that we are supposed to be against these kinds of things.
So now let’s talk about Mr. Romney.  I said before that I didn’t think Romney believes in anything but Romney, and after watching three debates and following this race pretty closely, that opinion has not changed.  I just can’t think of any good reason to vote for him.  I have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE that he will make any meaningful changes in abortion policy.  I sincerely hope I am wrong, but let’s remember that his sister, his wife, and most recently a campaign surrogate have all more or less gone on the record saying he won’t make any changes and that this is just not a big issue for him.  Yes, I know what he says himself, but he says all kinds of things all the time, half of which contradict each other–he will say anything to win.  You can say–and I have actually read some comments from prominent pro-life sources that try to assert this–that his wishy-washy comments are just to get votes and he’ll hop on board the pro-life train as soon as he’s elected.  But how do I know that?  And don’t we want a president who is unapologetically pro-life no matter what, if that’s the only reason he’s getting our vote in the first place?  Let’s not forget, too, that Mr. Romney used to be one of those “pro-life for myself, pro-choice for others” politicians, and he has a great story to back up his reasons for his stance–the botched illegal abortion that killed a young relative of his.  I haven’t heard him mention her lately, have you?  Wouldn’t you like to know what changed his mind?
Like I said, I’m basically a Democrat at heart, so a Republican is going to have to provide something extra to make me want to vote for him.  Mr. Romney’s stance on abortion does not convince me.  And I know he says he will repeal the HHS mandate, but I don’t know if I believe it.  Plus as I’ve said I think it’s a moot point anyway, plus his repealing of it is tied to his repealing of Obamacare, which doesn’t exactly appeal to this uninsured American who will be spending more hard-earned money this month on medication than I can afford.  Oh, and that’s hard-earned but UNTAXED money because we are part of that lowly 47% who just won’t ever take responsibility for our own lives.  I suppose Mr. Romney would like us to just not claim our five dependents and reject Mr. Bush’s tax credits so that we can pay income tax in addition to the self-employment tax which we DO have to pay.
In 2008, I did not vote for President.  I went to the polls and voted in the local races, but I just skipped that part.
This year, that doesn’t feel quite right. I’ve read that not voting at all is cowardly or lazy.  I know I am not lazy and I hope I am not a coward.  But I read another article this year that said that in voting for a candidate you are effectually agreeing with their stances, that you are complicit in what they do.  And I just can’t bring myself to do that.  Maybe it would be different if I lived in a swing state.  But Mitt Romney takes Tennessee no matter what I do tomorrow.  That gives my vote a sort of purity–it’s just between me and my conscience.
I could pick a third party candidate, like the Libertarian, who is against the drone wars and the eroding of our freedoms, or the Green Party candidate with whom I appear to largely agree, but unfortunately my areas of disagreement with both of them are in significant areas.  So here is what I have decided to do.
I am going to write in “None of the Above.”  I want the record to reflect that this pro-life Democrat could not find a candidate that she could in good conscience vote for.  For me, that is the most honest vote, after tons of study of both secular and religious documents, much discussion and debate, and plenty of prayerful reflection.
I hope that you will respect my decision, as I plan to respect yours.

UPDATE:  In 2016, my conclusions are different, and I will be explaining them in a future post.

What's a Catholic Voter to Do?

This is an edited version of a column I wrote in the fall of 2004.  At the time I was extremely disturbed by the vitriol surrounding the Presidential campaign, particularly that directed by Catholics toward other Catholics, presuming to assert that there was only one way for a good Catholic to vote.  I did not remember people being so hateful about politics in the past.  (Of course, things are much worse today, with Catholics routinely being assured by their brethren that they are headed straight to hell if they vote for a  pro-choice candidate.)  So I wrote this in the hopes of calming folks down a little bit, at least folks who read the East Tennessee Catholic.  

The first time I was eligible to vote for President, when I was 21, I was away at college and did not get my absentee ballot in time.  My parents and grandparents were all Democrats, and therefore so was I:  no decision-making would have been necessary.
I was similarly complacent the first time I was able to cast a vote, although in the opposite direction, for George H.W. Bush.  He was against abortion, the most horrible evil in the world.  How could other issues matter?
Four years later other issues seemed more important than I had thought.  In the most recent elections choosing a candidate has become agony.  I am unwilling to equate “pro-life” with anti-abortion, so I see no “pro-life” candidate.  Anyone who wages pre-emptive wars that kill up to 20,000 innocent civilians is not pro-life.  John Kerry’s assertion that life begins at conception while he blithely votes to give women unlimited power to end it doesn’t sit well with me either.  What’s a Catholic voter to do?
Thoughtful Catholics will come down on both sides, and if they have informed and followed their consciences, they are not sinning.  But no candidate is in line with all of the Church’s moral teachings.
Although the Church gives us guidance in this matter, it does not endorse candidates.  Many of you read Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s statement that when a Catholic does not share a candidate’s pro-choice stance but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered “remote material cooperation” [in evil] which is “permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”  The cardinal [later Pope Benedict] does not define the proportionate reasons, leaving us to define them ourselves.
The U.S  bishops published Faithful Citizenship:  A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility, which states:  “The 2004 elections . . . pose significant challenges for our Church . . . the Church cannot be a chaplain for any one party or cheerleader for any candidate.  Our cause in the protection of the weak and vulnerable and defense of human life and dignity . . . As Catholics [we are called] to recommit ourselves to carry the values of the Gospel and Church teaching into the public square . . . Faithful citizenship calls us to seek ‘a place at the table’ of life for all God’s children in the elections of 2004 and beyond . . . A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church’s social doctrine does not exhaust one’s responsibility towards the common good.
Finally, our Holy Father [Saint Pope John Paul the Great] quoted the following statement of the Second Vatican Council in The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae), a must-read for anyone who dares consider himself an authority on life issues:  “Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator.”
The Pope adds: “The underlying causes of attacks on life have to be eliminated, especially by ensuring proper support for families and motherhood. A family policy must be the basis and driving force of all social policies. For this reason there need to be set in place social and political initiatives capable of guaranteeing conditions of true freedom of choice in matters of parenthood. It is also necessary to rethink labour, urban, residential and social service policies so as to harmonize working schedules with time available for the family, so that it becomes effectively possible to take care of children and the elderly.”
With the help of these experts, I have the following reflections to offer.  One way to choose your candidate is to decide which issues are crucial to you and vote for the candidate who shares your perspective.  If you judge abortion the ultimate issue, you could vote for the candidate who opposes it. Or you might vote based upon the amount of change you expect the candidate to be able to effect in various areas of importance.  For example, if you voted for President Bush because he was pro-life the last time around, look at his record:  how many lives has he saved?  How much power does the President have to effect change in this area?  Some voted for Bush in 2000 so he could choose Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.  But he has yet to appoint a single justice.  And who can guarantee his choices would vote against abortion?  Look at the records of Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter, both appointed by conservatives.
What can a President affect in the way of life issues?  He can start a war, a war our Holy Father opposed.  And what about other life issues the pope enumerates in The Gospel of Life?  Some “conservative” social policies may lead to more abortions, when women choose abortion because of a lack of money, homes, or childcare.  There are many voter guides available online to further help you in the discernment process.
Because the Church doesn’t tell us for whom to vote, we must inform our consciences before making this important choice.
Have you fully informed yourself on the Church’s position on all life issues by reading The Gospel of Life?  Have you prayerfully considered the the teachings of our bishops?  Have you acquainted yourselves with the positions and records of both candidates?  If so, your conscience has been properly formed, and you have nothing with which to reproach yourself.  And if in charity you assume that your fellow Catholics who may have chosen a different candidate have done the same, you have nothing with which to reproach them either.
My column did not have the effect I had hoped or expected.  More on that in my next post.
Part II
Part III

Original altered by me and used by permission

Martin Luther King and Abortion

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This was, I believe, my last column for the East Tennessee Catholic, published right around this time in 2010.  Since this is the time of year for participating in Martin Luther King parades and Marches for Life, it seems like a good day to share it with you.
Our small delegation from Immaculate Conception’s Social Justice Committee slogged down Kingston Pike, through ankle deep puddles and muddy grass, wet to the skin. Although our participation in the annual March for Life in the face of such weather proved our dedication to the pro-life cause, it wasn’t much fun.
Less than a week earlier, we had marched in the Martin Luther King parade. Unlike the snow we had braved the prior year, we were blessed with sunny weather that made the 2.5 mile walk a pleasure, especially with all the smiling people shouting greetings and encouragement from the sidelines.
As the chair of our Social Justice Committee, I had the task of promoting both these marches. In advance of the MLK event, we shared with the congregation the words of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers … At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace.”
The following week we drew a parallel between the two marches. We reminded everyone that the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement were fueled by Dr. King’s commitment to organized non-violent protest, a philosophy he adopted from Mohandas Gandhi. Dr. King said: “The method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.” It is good to be reminded that we are not just marching to make ourselves feel good, but to effect change.
The proximity of these events made me wonder about Dr. King—were he alive today, would he march for the pro-life cause? Would he recognize abortion for the civil rights issue it is? I wanted to think so, but finding concrete information is difficult.
Pro-life websites claim him for our side, but can offer only indirect evidence. Pro-choice websites paint him as a certain supporter. Their argument centers around the Margaret Sanger Award, which Dr. King accepted from Planned Parenthood in 1966. But in 1966, Planned Parenthood was promoting birth control, not abortion. One of their pamphlets, published in August 1963 and titled Is Birth Control Abortion? said: “An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health. It may make you sterile so that when you want a child you cannot have it.”
While Dr. King is on record as supporting birth control, he cannot have known the truth about Margaret Sanger and her racist, eugenicist agenda, just as many people do not know it today. Had he done so, he surely would have refused an award which honors the woman who said of her strategy: “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” (Margaret Sanger’s December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts).
Advocates of King as pro-lifer point to his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, in which he espoused natural law theory, saying : “[T]here are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all. . . . A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”
They also point to the pro-life commitment of some of his closest associates, Dr. Ralph Abernathy and Rev. Jesse Jackson (yes, until the early 1980s!) both of whom are on record as deploring abortion. In truth, many black leaders of King’s time called it genocide.
Finally, Dr. King’s niece, Alveda King, has said: “What would Martin Luther King say if he saw the skulls of babies at the bottom of abortion pits? If Martin Luther King’s dream is to live, our babies must live. ” (Martin Luther King’s Niece Supports Right To Life, Boston University Daily Free Press, 18 January 2000, p.1)
At the dedication of memorials at the Birmingham church at which her father served as pastor, she added: “The great irony,” she said, “is that abortion has done what the Klan only dreamed of.” She told a meeting of Priests for Life that the killing of a quarter of the black population of the US has not been from the lynch mobs of her childhood days, but from abortionists, “who plant their killing centers in minority neighborhoods and prey upon women who think they have no hope.”
And on that note, staying true to their founder’s ideals, Planned Parenthood has purchased a medical building at 710 Cherry Street in East Knoxville, a predominantly black neighborhood. Non-violent protest deterred them from locating in mostly-white Bearden. While not offering surgical abortions, this center prescribes the abortion pill, RU-486. Pro-life advocates from both inside and outside the neighborhood are already organizing, fostering tensions just like Dr. King in the cause of justice for the unborn.
I’m linking up this post today at the #WorthRevisit linkup.  Visit there and also here to read more thought-provoking posts.

Got baby?

Because I’m on vacation (where I envisioned I would have uninterrupted to hours to blog, but that isn’t happening) here is another column reprint for you:
Billboards. They are everywhere in our town and in our state. Their unsightliness mars the beauty of rural roadsides, and adds to the ugliness of already overdeveloped commercial strips.
The particular billboard I’m writing about is more attractive than most, though, because its subject is a baby, a winsome, chubby little thing with head slightly tilted and tiny hands clasped together, almost as if in prayer. Perhaps you might expect it to be an ad for baby products, or for an agency that helps children. I hope you’ll be as shocked as I was to see that the baby itself was the product this sign was selling.
emily-baby-1
“Want one?” the sign asks. Catchy, isn’t it? A bit like the “Got milk?” campaign. Maybe it’s cute and catchy so we won’t think about what is really going on here. The name and the web address of a fertility clinic complete the legend on the sign. Its message is clear: Babies are something we have a right to. Babies are something we can buy.
Many years ago another ad moved me to write a letter to The University of Tennessee’s student publication, The Daily Beacon. That time it was an ad for a local abortion clinic. Bracketed by Visa and MasterCard logos, its slogan read: “No one believes in abortion until they [sic] need one.” Once again, they treat human life like a matter of economics. In this case, babies are things we have a right to be free from. And we can be rid of them, for a price.
One ad promises us sex without babies, another promises us babies without sex. Neither is right, and both are related. Separate sex from procreation, and funny things start to happen. Pretty soon, and people start to forget why we have babies in the first place. Having five kids, my husband and I have gotten more than our share of teasing, for example: “Haven’t you figured out what causes that yet?” about 500 times. It’s good for a chuckle, but the fact is that many people haven’t figured it out, or else they’ve forgotten. Babies are caused–or they are supposed to be caused–by the physical expression of love between a man and a woman. An important corollary is that sex isn’t supposed to be a recreational sport.
I’m sure you are familiar with point/counterpoint columns, where self-proclaimed experts take on some controversial issue and argue opposing sides, usually divided straight down predictable liberal/conservative lines. I cut out one of these some months ago, planning to discuss it here later. This one discussed yet another side of assisted reproductive technology: is it a good idea for single women to become pregnant via sperm donors?
The “liberal” columnist predictably embraced the idea, with comments like, “Women who want children shouldn’t be barred from motherhood just because they never fell in love or don’t want to marry.” The only reason, she claims, that studies find two parents to be better than one is that two parents usually have more money than one.
The “conservative” columnist responded that it’s wrong to deprive children of fathers, and that there are plenty of parentless children in need of adoption already for someone with motherly love to spare; one parent is indubitably better than none! And I agree with her, as far as she goes. But it’s not far enough.
Both columnists spent a lot of time talking about the rights of women to become mothers, but neither mentioned in any way that children are supposed to be–that they have the right to be–generated by an act of love between their parents. Just like the concept of sex without consequences, the concept of babies without sex is already entrenched in our culture.

Pro-life, or Anti-Abortion?

This is a reprint of the very first column I had published in the East Tennessee Catholic.  Although it appeared in late 2001, I had actually written it over two years before, as one of three sample columns which were rejected by the then-editor. 
What does it mean to have a “consistent life ethic?” You may remember that as Jesus hung on the cross, the soldiers cast lots to decide who should have the robe he was wearing.  They couldn’t split it among them because it had no seams.  Some have referred to the concept of a consistent life ethic as the “Seamless Garment.”  Life is a continuum, and we cannot pick and choose whose lives we are going to care about and protect.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God”(2319).
If we are to be consistent–constant, dependable, invariable, steady, unfailing–in what we believe and do regarding life issues, we must protect and care for all life, not just the lives of the innocent unborn.  Many people have bumper stickers on their cars proclaiming, “We vote pro-life!”  Well, I would love to vote pro-life but I can’t find a pro-life candidate.
Under the topic of “You shall not kill” in the catechism, we read the obvious: abortion, homicide, suicide, and euthanasia are all prohibited.  But we also read that those who contribute to famines are liable for the deaths of the starving, that destroying whole cities in wartime is a crime, and that “the arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race” (2329). The death penalty is limited to cases in which it would be necessary to protect other victims from the aggressor–something solitary confinement in a maximum security prison can certainly do.

Photo credit: wht_wolf96653 via Flickr

It is relatively easy to be pro-life when it comes to the slaughtering of an innocent in the womb. It’s harder to care about a serial killer. It’s pretty easy to know it’s wrong to throw a newborn in a dumpster. It’s harder to say that no one, no matter how sick he is or how much he is suffering, has a right to take his own life. It’s easy to decide to support laws which ban abortions. It’s harder to support laws requiring that tax dollars be spent to keep poor children off the street, to provide aid to mothers on welfare, to create programs for job training for unskilled workers.
Being consistent isn’t easy. All human beings are a mass of inconsistencies. Being a truly pro-life Catholic isn’t easy either, but Jesus never claimed that His was an easy road to follow.
“I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to buy a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough to love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please.”   –Wilbur Reese
God, the Giver of life, the Creator of life, calls us to believe in life 100%. If we’re only willing to give $3.00, then we aren’t pro-life. We’re just anti-abortion.

What's in a Name?

The following is a reprint of a column that ran in The East Tennessee Catholic newspaper on August 11, 2002.  It explains the name of my former column, which is now the name of this blog.
Names are important.
Think of the time we spend choosing the names we give our children, the hours poring over baby-name books, making lists, asking opinions, only to be told years later by an unappreciative adolescent, “I hate my name!”
Now, any writer or artist will tell you that his creative product is something like “offspring” to him.  So when it was time–past time–to name this column, I agonized over the choice for days.  Then, coming up blank, I followed my usual procedure for titling my work:  I stole.
Image result for bartlett's familiar quotations
Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations with its handy index is an old friend that has proved its worth to me many times.  I looked up life in the back of the book, and voila, the works of far better writers than I were at my disposal.
The phrase “life in every limb” sounded perfect at first reading, and once I investigated the source became even more so.
First, the author:  William Wordsworth, famed English poet of the Romantic Period, and as it happens, an old favorite of mine.  My first college English professor, later my advisor, is a preeminent Wordsworth scholar who spends summers at Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in the Lake District.  By virtue of his enthusiasm almost as much as Wordsworth’s talent, he taught us to love Wordsworth too.  This seemed like an omen.
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Next the poem whence the line came: We Are Seven. The poem’s narrator encounters a “little maid,” who in answer to questions about her family asserts again and again that there are seven children, even though two have died.  This inclusion in the family’s number of two who are unable to speak for themselves resonated with me as I thought of the voiceless unborn and their need for similar champions.
Finally, the enire quotation:  “A simple child/That lightly draws its breath/And feels its life in every limb/What should it know of death?” I thought of the unborn child, alive in every way, in every part of its tiny body, heart beating, blood pumping, at the very beginning of its life doomed so often to a premature and violent death.
I wonder what Wordsworth might add to the abortion debate if he were with us today.  My first child’s godmother (a fellow student of the aforementioned professor) created a beautiful cross-stitch as a gift for Emily when she was born from a paraphrased Wordsworth quotation: “Children come trailing clouds of glory from God who is their home.”
This comes from his Ode on the Intimations of Mortality, in which he expounds upon his belief that children are closer to God because they remember glimpses of heaven that are more and more lost to us as we grow older.  His own heavenly visions, the “spots of time” he celebrates in his long autobiographical narrative poem The Prelude, were a continuing source of inspiration to Wordsworth.  I have a feeling that he would have viewed the killing of the innocent unborn, fresh from God’s hand, as the worst kind of sacrilege.
Moving to a different sort of literature, the phrase “life in every limb” calls to mind St. Paul‘s metaphor of 1 Corinthians 12: ” . . . [T]he body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body . . . .”  Each person, born or unborn, is a part of that body and has a unique role to fulfill.
In valuing all members of the body equally, our church espouses a consistent ethic of life.  Although abortion is the focus of this column, I plan to write about many other life issues, such as the death penalty and euthanasia.  We might think of the abortion issue as just one of the many limbs of the church’s pro-life teachings.  For we are a church that embraces and celebrates and protects all life, that of the innocent unborn equally with that of the convicted murderer, of the ill and disabled along with the healthy, of the non-Christian along with the Christian–life in every limb of the Body of Christ.