Democrats for Life America’s Robert Christian has been trying to convince pro-life voters that the Democratic Party is actually just as concerned about life issues as its opponents are. The case he makes for a gutted “whole life” movement is grotesque and paper-thin—like some unnatural creature wearing a human pelt in an attempt to get closer to its prey.
When I read Christian’s “whole life” manifesto, I did a double-take at the byline. Did he really write this? Because at first it looked an awful lot like the work of veteran pro-life activist Jason Scott Jones. But the similarity—which is striking enough to send Jones to the copyright office—is superficial.
Jones has used the “whole life” brand for many years. The following is from the website of I Am Whole Life, the pro-life organization that Jones founded.
The human person is made in the image of God and therefore has an intrinsic dignity and incomparable worth. …The Whole Life Ethic acknowledges that issues that appear to be separate such as human sex trafficking, political violence, famine, abortion, genital mutilation, euthanasia, pornography, capital punishment, embryo destruction and many others are actually related threats to the dignity of the human person.
Compare that to Christian’s piece. He writes about a “whole life movement” that is “rooted in a belief in the innate dignity and worth of every single human being.” He goes on to pledge, in words similar to Jones’s, that the “whole life movement” will not confine itself to the issue of abortion alone, but also address other threats to human life, such as infant mortality and starvation.
But that’s where the similarity ends. Christian goes on to bury pro-life issues under a heap of what he calls “underlying causes of abortion,” which must be eliminated with an exhaustive list of “whole life policies”—many of which you might recognize from the Democratic Party platform: Everything from taxpayer-funded “food, clean water, clothing, shelter, healthcare, childcare, and education” for all Americans, to fighting “global poverty” abroad.
“If a pro-lifer ignores these issues,” Christian sneers, “they deserve the derisive label ‘pro-birth.’ A total commitment to life means valuing life at of all its stages—people’s whole lives.” If we elect Democrats, in other words, he pinky-promises they will help stop abortion—in 25 years, after they have dealt with all of their own pet issues.
Robert Christian is in the Wrong Century
What if Christian is sincerely pro-life and just thinks the Democratic Party is the best tool for the pro-life job? Not even the end of stopping abortion could justify such means.
Politics has a way of spinning out of control and violating human dignity, regardless of the initial motives of those who wield it. Over the last century, the tendency toward political violence became more evident than ever. As Russian novelist Andrei Sinyavsky wrote,
So that prisons should vanish forever, we built new prisons. …So that work should become a rest and a pleasure we introduced forced labor. So that not one drop of blood be shed, we killed and killed and killed. In the name of the Purpose we turned to means that our enemies used.
Similarly, French writer George Bernanos warned his young fellow citizens to take the decline of Germany under National Socialism as a cautionary tale, not an opportunity to boast of their own purity. Terrible things happen when we forget the inviolable rights of citizens, and it can happen anywhere:
[M]illions of young men who were just like you suddenly lost their taste for freedom…. These young men were not savages. They were the sons of the very ancient and illustrious German Christendom, your very neighbors.
What made the 20th Century so bloody—the bloodiest in human history? As Jason Scott Jones and coauthor John Zmirak write in their book “The Race to Save Our Century,” world leaders ignored the “transcendent moral order.” The only way to prevent the worst corruptions is to have certain eternal ground rules etched in stone ahead of time—universal principles that no man, no movement, and no nation may violate.
Jones made sure to reassert this moral order when he founded I Am Whole Life. Consulting with leaders in the pro-life movement, he came up with five “whole life” principles to protect against the excesses of the last century. These principles can still be found on the I Am Whole Life website or at www.saveourcentury.com.
The Democratic Party, meanwhile, by relentlessly advocating for abortion, continues to defy that moral order, ominously continuing in the style of the worst 20th Century power-mongers.
And rather than joining in the “race to save our century,” Robert Christian wants to put the errors of the 20th Century on life-support. Before we even begin to address abortion, he would have us grant absolute power to the Democratic Party, allowing it to gather everyone under the care (and control) of the State, and rewrite morality as it goes.
Jason Scott Jones has rightly called out Robert Christian for “stealing” the “name and rhetoric” of his organization. But perhaps what’s most troubling is that Christian refused to take the core principles of I Am Whole Life as well.