“To be in solidarity with the vulnerable is to become vulnerable yourself.”
Earlier this year, filmmakers told the story of former abortion clinic director Abby Johnson, her own abortions, and her brave and liberating decision to leave the abortion industry and advocate for the women and children it hurts.
Salih Hudayar’s cousin recently died in a concentration camp operated by the Chinese Communist Party in East Turkestan, where millions of Uyghur Muslims are imprisoned.
12-year-old Sneha Savindri Fernando was one of dozens of Christian children slaughtered by a Jihadist’s bomb during Easter Sunday Mass in Sri Lanka.
Weeks ago, a Mexican migrant laborer was sexually assaulted at gunpoint in Arizona.
I was honored to work with or raise awareness for all of these people through my initiative, the Vulnerable People Project.
The Vulnerable People Project’s purpose is to promote the incomparable dignity and worth of the human person, and to encourage everyone to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable and protect them from violence.
It’s a rebranded version of an initiative I launched through my non-profit H.E.R.O. in 2007.
True Pro-Life Ethics: Under Attack from Two Directions
The initiative, originally called “Whole Life,” was appropriated as a rebranding of the old “seamless garment” ploy that puts the intentional killing of innocent human life on the same moral tier as incommensurate priorities like raising the minimum wage, increasing funding for public schools, or fine-tuning healthcare policy.
But the human dignity of the unborn child is not a prudential question that’s up for debate among civilized, well-meaning people. How best to provide her mother with healthcare, job training, and a living wage, on the other hand, is debatable.
Well, not to the privileged moralists who discovered how useful vulnerable people can be as a rhetorical tool for promoting their own ideology.
In their hands, “whole life” became an opaque slogan that confused the Catechism’s preferential option for the poor with a preferential option for themselves.
The Unborn Don’t Need Our Flattery
Sadly, even among some of the best pro-life advocates, there’s another way that true, pro-life ethics can be undermined.
A pro-life friend recently took issue with one of my efforts to promote solidarity with the vulnerable. In this case, I was raising awareness about Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses, which include unjust imprisonment, torture, murder, and even crucifixion.
But why draw attention to that, my friend demanded, when unborn American children are being aborted here in the United States? As a pro-life leader, why was I distracting people from the “real” issue?
I’m afraid too many pro-life advocates like my friend are forgetting something. Something too important to forget.
The fundamental premise of the pro-life movement is that the unborn child is imbued with the same dignity and worth as any other human being after birth.
When pro-life advocates fail to see the unifying ethic between threats to the unborn person and threats to other human beings–truly like and commensurate issues–then they erase the whole purpose of their own advocacy.
This isn’t about slick, consistent branding. It’s about living in radical solidarity with vulnerable human beings, whatever the cost to ourselves.
That’s the core of what it means to be pro-life. And if we fail to stand with vulnerable children and adults on the pretense of prioritizing the unborn, we concede the premise of our entire movement: that all human beings share the same dignity, and that we will not tolerate violence against them.
And that’s why the Vulnerable People Project stands with the Uyghur in the Chinese concentration camp of East Turkistan, the migrant woman raped and threatened with death by cartel members on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Christian child in Sri Lanka torn apart by shrapnel from a Jihadist suicide bomber last Easter, and, of course, the child in the womb.