By Judie Brown
Being pro-life means more than just standing up against abortion. Being pro-life means advocating for each and every human person—born and preborn. It means taking care of the infirm, the elderly, the disabled, the sick, and the preborn—no matter the age. We take care of each and every human being because they are human beings and are created in the image and likeness of God. Today’s commentary addresses the many ways in which some people forget the true meaning of being pro-life, and it cautions us against falling into this insidious trap.
Biotechnology has made drastic advances over the past few years. This fairly new specialty which, oddly enough, began with the study of the fermentation process associated with brewing beer, is today all about genetic engineering—be it of plants or human beings. Biotechnology encompasses everything from making a baby in a test tube to creating a human being like Superman through the use of nanotechnology.
Yet, the politically motivated wing of the pro-life movement seems to be eerily silent on the new and perhaps more threatening aspects of a field that treats the human person as nothing more than a science lab where cells can be mutated, exchanged, taken at the cost of a human being’s life, or manipulated to weed out the imperfect, the undesirable, and the weak. Wesley J. Smith called attention to this scientific threat to human dignity when he wrote, “The so-called ‘quality of life ethic’ . . . presumes to invidiously declare differing moral values for human life based on measurements of individual capacities or abilities.” It has replaced the respect for human dignity ethic that was once the norm.
This is certainly obvious today, but as Christian writer and theologian John Kilner wishes to make clear, biotechnology need not be viewed as a science which we must oppose no matter what. During an interview he wisely said, “Biotechnology can be intended for good or ill—to enhance an appropriate stewardship over the created world or to assert ourselves at the expense of other people or other aspects of the created world. Accordingly, it can be a wonderful gift of God, but it is not necessarily so. . . . What's needed today is a balanced (biblically sound) view that takes the creation and redemption mandates—together with sinful human nature—seriously.”
And that is my point exactly. As pro-life leaders, we have an obligation to explain why it is that manipulating the human being by way of practices such as contraception, in vitro fertilization, human embryonic stem cell research, vital organ transplantation, and the abusive use of palliative medicine are wrong and must be re-evaluated according to the laws of nature as established by God and his commandments. We must not apologize for our confidence in the Lord’s perfect plan, but rather help those who doubt or refuse to respect it see that only good can come from being faithful to truth while nothing but evil results otherwise.
John Stonestreet did a great job of putting this all together in his must-read article, “The New Pro-Life: Time for an Upgrade." Writing about one of his latest BreakPoint This Week radio programs, he suggested a total upgrade in pro-life apologetics:
It’s time Christians catch up and become what Scott Rae—my other guest this weekend—calls “Pro-Life 3.0.”
According to Dr. Rae, a professor of ethics at Talbot School of Divinity, most churches are Pro-life 1.0, in other words, we’re up to speed on the taking of life: we tend to stand against abortion and euthanasia. And some of us are up to speed or at least getting up to speed on pro-life 2.0, or the making of life. This includes challenges surrounding fertility treatments like IVF and surrogacy. (But we still have a long way to go on this one. I mean, how many young married couples, even in our churches, utilize in vitro fertilization without realizing they’ve created excess embryos that will either be discarded, abandoned, or selectively aborted? And how many know which birth control pills are abortive and which are not?)
But we now face issues not only concerning the making and taking of life, but of remaking life. The astounding speed of technology allows us to use what was intended for healing diseases or sickness to enhance or improve people. And as we’ve mentioned before here on BreakPoint (www.breakpoint.org), this brings with it the threat of eugenics.
It is not enough to be “anti-abortion.” Nor can we continue to isolate this one murderous act from all the other threats to human dignity by suggesting that if a political candidate is “opposed to abortion,” then he or she is pro-life. No!
We must expect those in whom we invest our trust and our vote to understand the fullness of truth. If they don’t, we must do all we can to educate them. Lives are at stake! Ignoring the obvious makes us as guilty as those advocating biotechnological disregard for human beings.
Judie Brown is president and cofounder of American Life League and a three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life.