Blog by Sister Judy Morris, OP

You know it is election season when bumper stickers adorn cars everywhere.  One that appears every election season is, “I’m pro-life and I vote.”  It is always encouraging to observe a person committed to voting, but the first part of the bumper sticker raises the question:  What does it mean to be pro-life?  For many, being pro-life means opposing abortion.  Is that where it ends?

The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin created the concept of a “seamless garment.”  He articulated a long list of pro-life issues, widening the perspective to focus on the need to protect all life.  This does not diminish the importance of the abortion issue but emphasizes the urgency of all life issues that threaten human life and all creation.  While I am concerned about protecting the unborn, I also have concerns about the other 90% of life issues.  I am not a one-issue voter.

Can one be pro-life and:

  • Support the execution of prisoners on death row?
  • Support the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons that can kill millions of people?
  • Support policies that cut food stamps, subsidized housing, daycare that support the women who have chosen to have their babies?  How do they care for their babies without that support?
  • Support putting children in cages?
  • Support the manufacture and use of landmines that kill thousands of children and farmers long after a war is over?  (This is once again legal.)

The list of pro-life issues is endless.  An election year is an important time for dialogue, not debate, on life issues with persons with whom we disagree.  Unfortunately, dialogue does not happen often, following the advice to avoid talking about politics.  I believe political issues are moral issues and need shared wisdom from informed and committed citizens.  Together can we look at the entire landscape of life issues?  Neither silence nor heated rhetoric can bridge the deep divisions we face as a country.  The gift we can bring is a commitment to pursue truth, working to deepen understanding of issues of concern, always building mutual respect.  Now is an important time to “be peace, build peace and preach peace.”

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

9 responses to “Pro-life?

  1. Judy, Welcome back! I am on the same side with Joan Chittister who always speaks of being ProBirth and worrying about the days after when a single Mom can barely feed and clothe a child mainly because she is a child herself. I worry about the reasons so many young women (and some not so young) are so willing to put themselves in situations where pregnancy is so very possible. I worry that men value women so very little and make their needs so vitally important over anyone else’s.
    We have not dealt with the causes half as much as we have tried to deal with the symptoms and we really cannot make much change until we do.

  2. Sr. Judy,

    Thanks for the reminder that anti-abortion also has to include all the “anti’s” of life. Anti-poverty, anti-death penalty, etc.

    My professor in college (Sister of Loretto) said we can look at things through tunnel vision or a wide angle lens. Let’s pray more people will choose the wide angle.

  3. It’s sad how many people stop with opposing abortion yet don’t consider paying for care for the mothers and their babies. We must tell the whole story about being pro-life. Many people have never heard about Joseph Bernadine and his seamless garment theory. When I tell them about it most stop and at least think before they start arguing. I pray they will think more about it when they are calmer and don’t feel they have to defend their position to save face.

    1. The problem with the Seamless Garment Theory (SGT) is that it does not prioritize – all concerns are presented as equal to one another, but this is generally not the case.

      Donning a garment properly – say, a house robe, for instance – requires certain steps taken in a specific order….. first, pulling the robe over one’s head, then the sleeves over one’s arms, buttoning buttons, and finally securing the whole – if necessary to its functionality – with a waist-high belt or knotted rope.

      Using this system to revere and protect innocent human beings, would first necessitate guarding the lives of the most helpless – of our sisters and brothers growing and developing within their mothers’ wombs. Abortion does the opposite, destroying an innocent, defenseless human baby boy or baby girl. as if she or he was the problem, and not the victim of circumstances outside of their control. Abortion also disregards the longing of the vast majority of pregnant women to not be forced into sacrificing their children, but to have their practical and positive needs met, so that abortion no longer appears to be these mothers’ only – or even best – option… so that practical and positive solutions to their families’ needs can be met.

      To prioritize this

  4. Judy, THANK YOU for zeroing in on what is at the heart of …all of life… mother earth and all that has life from the very life of God. We are all one.
    I hope your beautifully written blog will circulate widely. We desperately need to hear this and do whatever we can.

  5. Thank you, Judy, first of all for stepping in as Justice Promoter. This wonderful review of the endless pro-life issues are very important to remember as we enter into a dialogue with Associates, family and friends.

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