Although my pro-life convictions have not changed, I took a step back from this blog for the past few years in part to educate myself about some other aspects of social justice. This includes the various ways human beings abuse one another as well as gender and racial equality. It has been an interesting journey, but it was the talk from Michelle Higgins at Urbana 2015 that compels me to respond. I am greatly concerned about her comments not as an offended pro-life speaker, but as one who believes strongly in racial and gender equality. She believes she is advocating for social justice at the same time she undermines the entire basis that compels us to see human beings as equal. Let's take a look at her words:
"We could wipe out the adoption crisis tomorrow. We could wipe it out this week. But we’re too busy arguing to have abortion banned. We’re too busy arguing to defund Planned Parenthood. We are too busy withholding mercy from the living so that we might display a big spectacle of how much we want mercy to be shown to the unborn. Where is your mercy? Where? What is your goal in only doing activism that is comfortable?"Although some have seen this as merely arguing against current pro-life strategy (something I also tend to do), her words reveal something far worse. In order to understand this, we have to take a step back and examine the pillars in which our social justice convictions stand. Why argue for human equality when none of our abilities are essentially equal?
The principle that all human beings are intrinsically valuable based on whose image we bear is the ground in which our convictions for social justice stand. Throughout human history those who have power have oppressed, abused, and sometimes killed other weaker, vulnerable human beings. This has been justified by some artificial distinction that the more powerful makes over the weaker. This pattern is consistent whenever one group holds a privileged position over another.
In her talk, she doesn't merely criticize current prolife strategy, she attempts to make a critical distinction between the "living" and the "unborn". This distinction is enough in her eyes to justify "unbusying" ourselves defending the life of one set of human beings in order to show mercy to another, more valuable set of human beings. What she does not realize is that placing value on human beings based on an artificial distinction is the basis of racial inequality in the first place.
To see this, lets assume that we follow her advice. We free up our time for the "living" by unburdening ourselves fighting for the life of the unborn. The adoption crisis is wiped out tomorrow. and abortion on demand increases. What would we accomplish? We would have merely justified increasing the status of one human group while allowing a more powerless and vulnerable group to be killed. At the same time hoping that the artificial distinctions that allowed the "adoption crisis" to occur in the first place doesn't change over time. This is not justice, it is continuation of the status quo that tolerates racism, discrimination, and abuse in the first place.
The goal is not to take resources that defend the life of one human being to spend them on supporting another. The real goal is to work so that each and every human being is valued intrinsically based on the value given equally by our Creator. She should not have attempted to get attention by some slick, rhetorical jab to those with pro-life convictions. She should have shown the inclusivity that we all should share as brothers and sisters. In short, she should have lived up to these words that someone wrote on the Faith For Justice Website. I pray that we will not be confused, and can join one another in fighting for true equality.
As Christians, we believe that life is valuable, that all people are made equally in the image of God. The image of God is reveled in each and every one of us. Young people and old people; people of every race, color, and culture; criminal, civilian, and cop: all are made in the image of God and all of their lives are valuable and irreplaceable creations of the Almighty. The fact that we find any life at all to be expendable is not just a tragedy, but a sign of our deep misunderstanding of the way the world ought to be.Amen to that.