One only has to glance at Twitter to see how some are trying to expand the decades-long meaning of “pro-life.” The term is increasingly becoming less about protecting babies from abortion and more about being holistically pro-all-life.
Christians agree on the beautiful truth that every person is made in God’s image and worthy of love. However, many who redefine “pro-life” aren’t concerned with honoring the imago Dei in all people. Some of those most easily fooled by this linguistic manipulation are Christians – and those most impacted are babies in the womb.
At the core, it’s all about marketing. In the 1970s, abortion opponents branded their movement “pro-life” in order to show what they were for and not against. They used this term to convey their support for the lives of preborn babies and to inspire the public to affirm their right to life. Abortion advocates followed their lead by calling their movement “pro-choice,” trying to mask the reality of abortion by highlighting women’s freedom. These labels stuck, and we still use them years later.
But the truth is, these are mere words that can be twisted to mean whatever the speaker wants. The late columnist Charles Krauthammer recognized this way back in 1985. He said, “These words, like all words that mean everything and nothing, are artfully empty. Pacifists, vegetarians, gun controllers, anti-smokers, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and the air-bag lobby can equally claim the pro-life slogan.”
We see this happening today, with ardent abortion supporters like Alyssa Milano calling themselves “pro-life.” They’re taking a term the public associates with protecting preborn babies and applying it toward their political causes. We’re fed the lie that if we care about all people, then we will support their liberal position on (fill in the blank). Their purpose is to take people’s eyes off the innocent in the womb and make them feel comfortable voting for Democrats’ radical pro-abortion agenda.
By expanding the definition of pro-life, they are intentionally elevating other issues and injustices to the same level as abortion. But while all humans are equally valuable, not all are equally oppressed. Each year in America around one million image-bearers are killed by abortion. No other people-group is exterminated like this (and their body parts sold for a profit). Christians are not naïve, small-minded, or corrupt by prioritizing them, and we’re not foolish for refusing to support the one political party that unreservedly pushes to perpetuate their deaths.
But the left is taking advantage of some Christians’ dislike of President Trump by labeling the president and the Republican Party as “anti-life.” They are seizing this moment to misrepresent conservative policies as only “pro-birth” and a threat to people outside the womb. They exaggerate the government’s role in caring for the vulnerable as they portray the state as an effective way to enable human flourishing. One only has to observe the poverty, violence, drugs, and horrible schools in Democrat-run cities and states to understand this is not true.
Nothing if not shameless, the left has even had the audacity to claim that their Presidential administrations protect more babies and prevent more abortions than Republicans’ do. Their arguments disregard the massive impact conservative state legislatures make and downplay the importance of judicial appointments, especially President Trump’s stellar Supreme Court picks. They also ignore the tremendous difference the pro-life community has made through education and serving abortion-determined women on the ground, all of which has helped reduce the number and rate of abortions.
Unfortunately, many people do not take the time to look into these facts. Words and phrases have always been powerful tools to shape public perception, but in our clickbait culture today, they have even greater influence. They quickly sway people and turn their heads to look at new ideas. And with the attempt to redefine “pro-life,” it’s quickly turning people away from protecting vulnerable babies in the womb.
Amanda Sherzer is a wife, mother of three young children, and writer in Dallas, Texas. She is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and a former staffer for President and Mrs. George W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush. Twitter: @amanda_sherzer