Pro-Life Needs To Be Pro All Life

Savita Halappanavar Photograph: Irish Times

I have been sitting on my pro-life video for about a month. The story of Savita, who was denied an abortion in Ireland while miscarrying at 17 weeks and died, as well as the nun who was excommunicated over saving a woman’s life by allowing an abortion in a Catholic hospital in Phoenix, Arizona decided for me in a way. The nun saved that woman’s life, but she could’ve denied the abortion as Savita Halappanavar was denied hers. The possibility is enough for me to decide to talk about a the difficult subject yet again.

(If you can’t see the video, click Pro-Life Needs To Be Pro All Life)

In the video (once I cut it down from twelve minutes to four), I discuss how I don’t understand why the pro-life movement only includes fetuses. When I look around at all the suffering and struggles of our world, homelessness, prison reform, poverty, human trafficking, war, there is so much life to support which doesn’t require sacrificing another life to do so; yet an entire movement focuses on a life that literally requires the sacrifice of another person’s life, which is not even their own.

If the pro-life movement was only made up of currently pregnant women, I would understand. Or if all life had dignity and comfort today, perhaps I could make room. But a movement focused on taking away the rights of one life to promote the rights of another is not pro-life. It is pro the easiest life to promote and look good doing it. The life in a pregnant belly is cute and uncomplicated. The movement forgets where we all come from and that we are all neighbors.

I don’t expect people to stop being pro-life, but I hope the they stops focusing on sacrificing mothers and broadens to include the lives of those here who are living and breathing next to us first. I hope the movement will embrace those people so easily ignored because their lives are full of mistakes and ugliness rather than baby photos and clean slates. As a Christian and a human being, I believe that the most difficult for us to love is probably the place to begin.

PS. I’m more eloquent in my video so if you have a 4 minutes to spare, you could listen.

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Does Shooting A President Mean We Can Never Get Better? A Look At The John Hinckley Story

John Hinckley, who shot President Reagan, is applying for more privileges to spend more time away from the mental hospital where he current lives. (source: NPR)

During his trial in 1982, Hinckley was declared not guilty by reason of insanity. Many people were not pleased and although this verdict was rare back then, many states reacted by making the bar even higher or abolishing the “insanity defense” altogether.

In my own ignorance, I thought that being declared insane meant a person was always insane. Untreatable. Locked away. I hadn’t realized Hinckley was visiting his mother down the road in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The current terms of Hinckley’s sentence are:

Hinckley [can] to visit his mother for a dozen visits of ten days at a time, rather than six, spend more time outside of the hospital, and even have a driver’s license. Hinckley [is] required to carry a GPS-enabled cell phone to track him whenever he was outside of his parent’s home, and he [is] forbidden to speak to the news media. (source: Wikipedia)

These are more privileges than he had a decade ago. His doctors feel his depression and psychosis have been stable for more than 5 years.

I believe mental illness is an illness, which is mostly out of a person’s control – particularly because it often includes not realizing one is sick. Many people in the throes of their illness do things that, when on medication or with appropriate supports, they not do otherwise. Mental illness is common and often treatable.

I also believe that we serve the time we are supposed to serve. Our justice system, whether correctional or mental intuitions, is supposed to rehabilitate people, not remove them from society indefinitely.

However, there is a line we cross — a point where it does not matter what illness we suffer from, we are a threat and there is no way to prove that we will not threaten again. We put sexual predators in that category because even when they get out, they are placed on a list for life. Mass murders are included. Even alcoholics and addicts pay for their illnesses with jail time.

Does shooting a president count?

Perhaps, the question is: Are the consequences worth it? Of course, we are safer individually if Hinckley stays separated from us. But are we safer as a society? When we chose to believe that people are irredeemable, we all suffer from lack of faith and hope. Are we losing vital members of our society because we believe they cannot get better or their better is not enough? Can’t an alcoholic get sober? A depressive get happy? Plenty of people do not only get better but make other people’s lives better.

By not believing in change, we are trapping ourselves in our mistakes rather than our potentials.

But then again, most people do not shoot someone even at their sickest.  Are they lucky?  Or is that line drawn across their heart?  Can John Hinckley contribute to society even if he is capable of shooting the president?

Our country must be decide whether some of us are our actions or our illnesses and if we are to suffer the consequences of our brain chemistry even once we are better.

John Hinckley is a place to start.

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