April 23, 2014
Protecting the Unborn and the Pro-Life Movement from a Misleading Environmentalist Tactic
Recently some environmentalists have portrayed certain of their causes as intrinsic to the pro-life movement. The tactic often involves appealing to a “seamless garment” of support for life, or to being “consistently pro-life” or “completely pro-life.”
A Joint Statement by Pro-Life Leaders
As leaders of the pro-life movement, we reject that portrayal as disingenuous and dangerous to our efforts to protect the lives of unborn children.
The term pro-life originated historically in the struggle to end abortion on demand and continues to be used in public discourse overwhelmingly in that sense. To ignore that is at best sloppy communication and at worst intentional deception. The life in pro-life denotes not quality of life but life itself. The term denotes opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies.
In stark contrast, most environmental causes promoted as pro-life involve little threat to human life itself, and no intent to kill anyone. For example, even if one grants the exaggerated numbers and harms claimed by the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) in its recent quarter-million-dollar advertising campaign that claimed, “being pro-life means protecting the unborn from mercury pollution,” mercury exposure due to power-plant emissions does not kill infants.
Consequently, calling mercury pollution and similar environmental causes pro-life obscures the meaning of pro-life. And thanking politicians with 100% pro-abortion voting records (even some who support partial-birth abortion) for their “pro-life” position because they supported restrictions on mercury emissions, while rebuking some with 100% pro-life voting records because they opposed or didn’t support the new restrictions, as EEN’s campaign did, will confuse voters, divide the pro-life vote, and postpone the end of abortion on demand in America.
This doesn’t mean we should ignore environmental risks. It does mean they should not be portrayed as pro-life. Genuinely pro-life people will usually desire to reduce other risks as well—guided by cost/benefit analysis. But to call those issues “pro-life” is to obscure the meaning of the term.
Two fundamental principles distinguish truly pro-life issues (like abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research) from environmental issues. First and foremost, truly pro-life issues are issues of actual life and death, while environmental issues tend to be matters of health. Second, truly pro-life issues address actual intent to kill innocent people, whether the unborn, the gravely ill, or the aged, while environmental issues do not.
If environmental advocates still want to support mercury-emission reductions or other environmental causes, let them do so honestly and above board. But they should not promote those causes under the pro-life banner. That is at best badly misinformed, at worst dishonest.
We call on environmentalists to cease portraying such causes as pro-life and join us in working diligently to reduce and end abortion on demand in the United States, which every year kills about 1.2 million babies, amounting to over 54 million in the 39 years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
(Institutional affiliations are listed for identification only and do not imply institutional endorsement.)
- Kim Andrews, Missouri Eagle Forum
- Sara L. Anderson, Executive Vice President, Bristol House, LTD
- Dr. Herman Bailey and Dr. Sharron Bailey, Hosts, Herman & Sharron Television Ministry, Christian Television Network
- J. Matt Barber, Vice President, Liberty Counsel Action
- Gary L. Bauer, President, American Values
- E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., Founder and National Spokesman, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation
- Rev. Pierre Bynum, Founder, Pro-Life Action Churches of Maryland, Inc, Chaplain, Family Research Council
- Nancy Clark, Director of Women’s Ministries, Elim Fellowship; President, Evangelical Women Leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals
- Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., Executive Director and Senior Fellow, The Beverly LaHaye Institute
- Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B Anthony List
- Rev. Barrett Duke, Ph.D., Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
- Rev. Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis, American Family Association
- Tim S. Goeglein, Vice President for External Relations, Focus on the Family
- Rev. Wayne A. Grudem, Ph.D., Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary; Board Member, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
- Donna Hearne, Convener, Educational Policy Conference
- Rev. Peter Jones, Ph.D., Director, truthXchange, and Adjunct Professor and Scholar in Residence, Westminster Theological Seminary, Escondido, CA
- Rev. Richard Land, Ph.D., President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
- Jan Markell, Founder, Olive Tree Ministries
- Tom Minnery, Senior Vice President, Focus on the Family
- Marilyn Musgrave, Vice President for Government Affairs, Susan B Anthony List
- Penny Young Nance, Chief Executive Officer and President, Concerned Women for America
- Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
- Rev. Joey Pipa, Ph.D., President, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
- Kelly Shackelford, President & CEO, Liberty Institute
- Robert F. Schwarzwalder, Jr., Senior Vice President, Family Research Council
- Eugenie Smith, President, Eagle Forum of Alabama
- Ginger Soud, Eagle Forum of Florida
- Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel
- Mark Tooley, President, Institute on Religion and Democracy
- Kelley Wesley, Pregnancy Center Advisor, former Chief Executive Officer of Sanctity of Life Ministries
- Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association