Here's a quiz to gauge how pro-life you are
Which of the following positions would you consider to be "pro-life?"
Opposing abortion on demand?
Opposing U.S. engagement in unjust wars?
Favoring government subsidies for women who become pregnant out of wedlock to enable them to carry their child to term?
Tightening gun-control laws to ensure universal background checks, three-to-five-day waiting periods before purchase?
Outlawing sales of assault rifles and magazines holding more than 10 bullets?
Not allowing the practice of euthanasia or "mercy killing"?
Ending the death penalty?
What's your score? If you are at all typical of people in our highly polarized society, you probably went 50-50 on the above items.
And that's the problem.
ALL of the above can legitimately be considered "pro-life" positions.
Our chances of moving Americans toward forming a more humane society would be heightened -- by a lot -- if, for instance, those marching to end abortion also endorsed tighter gun control. And if those who once demonstrated against U.S. engagement in Iraq because it was an unjust war joined in the cause to curtail abortion and also stood against mercy killing.
The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of the Chicago Archdiocese famously spoke of the pro-life campaign as "a seamless garment." Pro-lifers' moral energy, leafletting and demonstrating were needed, he believed, across the entire range of issues.
As things stand now, however, activists usually break down into "liberals" who campaign against wars such as the one we fought in Iraq and in favor of ending the death penalty, and "conservatives" who campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade and inveigh against euthanasia.
I found it a hopeful sign that at the recent "March for Life" in Washington, D.C., marking the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision ("Roe") legalizing abortion in all 50 states, march organizers encouraged participants to also fight for tighter gun control.
Too often we stake our allegiance to being considered "liberal" or "progressive" or say "I'm on the left," or else we go around speaking of ourselves as "conservatives" and being proud of "standing with the right."
We thus see people who are "pro-life" in a different way than we are as "the enemy," or at least as people who are "wrong headed" or "delusional."
Laura Ingahram commented on Fox News recently that perhaps those pushing for laws that would tighten gun control, such as outlawing assault rifles and magazines holding more than 10 rounds, would have "a better chance of success" if they tied in to the pro-life campaign to limit availability of abortion.
I think she's absolutely right, and definitely starting to catch the spirit of being pro-life across the entire spectrum of issues.
Acting in that spirit will, however, take some courage; it will take "breaking ranks" with our fellow liberals or our fellow conservatives, and joining hands with others whom we have often regarded with skepticism or even hostility.
That is the right course, though. And the sooner that more of us sign onto it, the faster we'll be able to advance the pro-life agenda -- on all fronts.
John Patrick Grace formerly reported from Chicago, edited foreign news copy in New York and served as a foreign correspondent in Rome, all for The Associated Press. He later was a health care and religion editor for The Greensboro (N.C.) News and Record. Currently he is a book editor and publisher who lives in eastern Cabell County.