Exciting local news

The university I work for will be holding a Pregnancy Resources Forum in April. The college pro-life group and NOW chapter are co-sponsors, and the student Senate voted to assist with the project as well. That’s a pretty amazing amount of cooperation on the goal of reducing abortions and making the campus a friendlier place for parenting students.

Feminists for Life and I have parted ways in recent years, but I still really admire the work they’ve been doing on college campuses. Check out their “dream campus”, FFLU, for a vision of what a college campus might look like if it were designed to include students with family obligations.

I’ll be posting more about the forum and about the changes that (I hope) come about on this campus as a result.

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Dr. King, the consistent life ethic, and Barack Obama

Last month, Marysia speculated about what Martin Luther King, Jr. would have thought of the feminist consistent life ethic. (part one, part two) Whatever the answer to that question may be, one thing is clear: if Dr. King’s message of equality, dignity, nonviolence, and empathy were to truly take root in our society, we would become consistently pro-life.

If we believed in equality for all human beings, we would not single out the youngest members of our species as killable non-persons. We would value women’s full humanity, not just their sex appeal or ability to bear children. We would honor women’s sexuality and motherhood. We would not accept a racially biased criminal justice system. We would not see the loss of lives in other countries as an acceptable price to pay for our national goals.

If we believed in dignity for all human beings, we would not allow people to die of treatable diseases because they’re poor or uninsured. We would not allow the neighborhoods of the poor to be poisoned with pollution. We would not refer to human beings as “products of conception” or “fetal tissue”. We would help the sick and disabled live their lives as well and fully as possible — no matter how short or how different from ours those lives may be — rather than trying to eliminate them before birth.

If we believed in nonviolence, our candidates would not compete with each other to prove who would kill more people in other countries, who would kill more prisoners, who would restrict the killing of unborn human beings the least. Our electorate would find such contests repugnant instead of galvanizing. We would have to be more creative in finding ways to solve problems instead of reflexively reaching for the violent solution. We would be brave enough to sacrifice a bit of safety and security in the short term for a better future.

If we had empathy for all human beings, we would accord all people of the world the right to self-determination that we claim for ourselves. We would not let pregnant women feel that they have no choice but abortion. We would recognize ourselves in every human being, even those most unlike us. We could not torture.

In a speech marking the 79th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth, Barack Obama invoked the words of “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: we are all tied together in “a single garment of destiny.”

Does that sound familiar? It should. It’s the same imagery that consistent life ethic proponents have used for 25 years to argue that it’s not enough for fight for the rights of some people while ignoring others. All our lives are intertwined.

Unfortunately, Senator Obama’s garment is full of holes. Although I believe he would personally prefer a lower abortion rate, he would allow for essentially unrestricted destruction of human beings before their birth. Although I believe that he would be less aggressive than his opponents, he favors a buildup of a military which is already larger than the militaries of the rest of the world combined. Although I don’t believe he’d be a great proponent of it, he does not repudiate the death penalty. He isn’t the one who’s going to tear down the anti-life society in all its forms; he’s going to uphold much of it.

I voted for him today anyway. Because the society Obama describes, the one King fought for, is pro-life. And he alone among the candidates appears able to inspire hope and courage and confidence among the people in the grassroots who have been so beaten down for the past seven (or twenty-seven) years. The grassroots leaders he inspires and gives breathing room and may possibly even listen to a little bit are the people who can strengthen that single garment. Yes, even to include the unborn. Once people believe in the equality and interconnectedness of all human beings, they’re 90% of the way there. Our job then is to convince them to expand their vision of humanity.

As Patrick says:

He’s not an insurgent; he’s the standardbearer for a faction of the country’s political elite. I believe that, on balance, this particular faction happens to comprise many of the the smartest and most conscientious individuals from within that elite. So I’m supporting Obama and his train, people like Samantha Power and Robert Malley and Lawrence Lessig, just as a peasant might cheer for an aristocratic faction made up of reasonably decent individuals against other factions made up of out-and-out thugs. Not because the peasant doesn’t know the game is rigged, or doesn’t have the wit to imagine a better world. But because incremental change matters, and because the right incremental changes can lead, like water flowing downhill, to bigger and more profound ones.

And frankly, in the end, nobody better is in a position to win. Perhaps someday, if we peasants work hard enough and change enough minds, the leaders will have no choice but to follow.

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Finally, a presidential candidate I could endorse…

…so of course he’s fictional.

Prez4Life

Prez4Life Blog Chronicles Fictional Prolife Progressive Presidential Campaign

www.Prez4Life.com debuted on January 22, 2008, with an announcement by former Sen. Thomas Lincoln that he would run for President as a prolife liberal on an independent ticket. Thomas Lincoln and most of Prez4Life is fictional, and the blog will tell the candidate’s story through to the November election.

Prez4Life will explore the realities of the prolife progressive position. The abortion issue tends to be perceived as a prolife conservative vs. pro-choice liberal debate, with no room for crossover. Even prochoice conservative Republican Rudolph Giuliani’s campaign didn’t do much to alter that viewpoint.

In brief, in the Prez4Life world, Thomas Lincoln is a former Democratic Senator from Minnesota who was first elected to Congress during the Nixon Administration and was defeated in 2002 after his vote against authorizing the Iraq War. He announced his presidential candidacy during a rally for prolife liberals prior to the March for Life in Washington, DC, on the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

As the election year progresses, Prez4Life will post updates on the fictional race from a variety of sources and perspectives (from a single anonymous author). The blog will follow its own storyline even as it reacts to real world events.

The serial fictional blog can be found at www.Prez4Life.com.

(ht: Rachel MacNair)

I’m curious who the author is. It all rings very true to the pro-life progressive experience. The candidate is a pro-labor, pro-social-programs, anti-war liberal who nonetheless gets labeled a “conservative” on abortion because he applies his pro-little-guy, nonviolent principles to the unborn. He’s Catholic — obviously not a requirement for being a pro-life liberal, but a pretty common background. His father was a union organizer, and his mother admired Thomas More.

The blog entries also do a good job of capturing the confusion and suspicion that greets pro-life progressives — the blurb from the oh-so-politically-savvy “Weekly Wrap” that can’t comprehend Lincoln’s position as anything but “triangulation”, the liberal blogger who can’t even type the name of the group “Prolife Progress” without following it with “oxymoron alert”, the right-wingers who sneer at “so-called prolife liberals” and question Lincoln’s faith, the attempted exclusion from the March for Life.

In the first entry, a woman who declined to be named asked whether pro-life progressives should really be running yet another man. I loved that, because I was asking myself the same question as I was reading. Unfortunately, the answer given was reflective of reality — there simply aren’t enough pro-life progressive women with the extensive experience and qualifications that the fictional Senator Lincoln has. One could have posited a fictional woman, of course, but that would be ducking the reality. I’d like to see the blogger explore the question of why pro-life liberal women and minorities have been underrepresented; perhaps this will come up in the search for a running mate.

I’m really looking forward to future installments. It’s like the West Wing for pro-lifers.

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