Recently I was perusing a politician’s website, and I noticed the following bullet point “believes all innocent human life is precious.” This way of phrasing caught my eye, and made me think a little.
I am against abortion. I assume that was the point of this gentleman’s statement. To communicate to a group of people that he was anti-abortion. However, what caught my eye was the adjective “innocent.”
What is an innocent human life? Because I think being pro-life should encompass much more than the lives of the unborn. Where do we draw the line?
Almost five years ago, right around the time I gave birth to my surprise baby (who came along after I thought I was long through having kids and 40 years old), a little boy’s body washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. His name was Aylan. His parents had been fleeing Syria and the war that was raging in that country. He drowned. Along with his mother and a sibling. His father was all that was left. I remember how sad it made me. That this father had to bury his children. I have donated money to an organization doing work in the Middle East with displaced families. I think this is a pro-life issue.
I’ve spent my career working in the criminal justice system. While I don’t spend much time in criminal court, I am aware of how my own judgments have at times been wrong. I have jumped to conclusions. I have made missteps in my own career. We know, have read about or heard about people who were convicted of crimes, who it turns out were wrongfully convicted. With the advances in DNA technology, previously closed cases are re-opened sometimes decades after the fact, and the wrongfully convicted person is vindicated. We have documented times in the history of the United States where we know we got it wrong – and ultimately our government executed the wrong person.
There are situations in which people who have done horrible things to other human beings find redemption inside the four walls of a prison cell. When someone commits a crime, our system of justice requires a punishment. However, that punishment doesn't have to be the end of the story. I know I have read and watched stories of families of victims and families of perpetrators joining together and finding forgiveness and compassion. The bottom line is I think the use of the death penalty in our criminal justice system is a pro-life issue.
There are children, right now, that are being abused in this county. We have a system in place that is trying to help them. And their families. We try and put these families back together after things have fallen apart. Therapists, case managers, social workers. These folks are walking the walk, and they are out there on the front lines, trying to do the things it takes to assure these children will never suffer abuse or neglect again. I think our child welfare system, and the lives it changes and sometimes even saves is a pro-life issue.
There are people, right here in our county, who are struggling. They are struggling with their bills. To locate suitable and safe housing. To obtain sufficient food for their families. To gain access to medical care they desperately need. Whether they are struggling due to mental illness, job loss, drug addiction, many of these folks have children caught up in their situations as well. I think this is a pro-life issue.
So long story made longer, I think being pro-life is a lot bigger and broader than some people would have us believe. And I don’t think I’m the exception in thinking this way. We can disagree about how it is we address issues like abortion, the death penalty, child abuse or poverty. However, I think many people whether here in St. Charles County and across the United States, believe ALL human life is important, has value and is capable of redemption. Let’s have those tough conversations about how we fix what ails us as a community. This is hard work. But in the end, we’re all in this together. We are our brother’s keeper, no matter what labels we put on one another.