How to Respond to Utopian Idealism Masquerading as a Voice for Life

The modern pro-life movement arose in the wake of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that effectively mandated legalized abortion in all fifty states. At a basic level, most people equate being pro-life with being against abortion and speaking up for the unborn after the manner of the Scriptural admonition to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” These simple ideas still motivate many people in the pro-life movement.

Over time, though, some began expanding the scope of what it means to be pro-life. In 1987 the Consistent Life Network put forth what it calls a Consistent Life Ethic. In addition to opposing abortion, this schema also opposes “euthanasia, war, murder, poverty, abuse, lack of adequate health care, torture, cruelty, degradation and the death penalty.” More recently, the New Pro-Life Movement (NPLM), launched in 2016, reimagined the concept of “pro-life” into something yet more expansive. The NPLM says that in order to speak for the unborn, we must also speak up for sustaining life at all stages. This requires signing onto a veritable cornucopia of utopian agenda items, including (are you read for this?) speaking up for “greater access to healthcare, pre- and post-natal care, mandatory paid leave, job protection, equal wages, sexual education, and stronger comprehensive support systems [whatever that means];” putting an end to “sexual harassment, violence, and prejudice against women;” protecting the environment, and, as if that weren’t enough already, an additional host of legislative positions related to equality, poverty, labor unions, and gun violence.

These bundles of causes go by names such as “Consistent Life Ethic,” “Seamless Garment,” or “Whole Life,” and a trend has emerged whereby activists say you are not really pro-life unless you also agree to their bloated platform. Well, no. You don’t have to accept anyone else’s political free-for-all to speak up for human life. Not only is it better to keep it simple, it is also more effective.

When it comes to making the case for life, Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute (LTI) and author of The Case for Life, says that your three most important words are “syllogism, syllogism, syllogism.” Here is the LTI keep-it-simple syllogism:

  • Premise 1: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
  • Premise 2: Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.
  • Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is wrong.

This argument is simple and solid, so don’t let utopian idealists divert or dilute the discussion. If someone tells you that you can’t be pro-life and support the Second Amendment (or whatever), stay on point. Return to the syllogism. Invite them to defeat it by showing how either Premise 1 or Premise 2 is false.

  • Premise 1 is a statement about morality. Anyone claiming to be pro-life would have to agree with it or surrender the claim to being pro-life. At the other end of the spectrum, only the most radical of radicals will go so far as to say that it is morally permissible to intentionally kill an innocent human being. But if you happen to end up in a discussion with one, let the horror of their moral position come out into the open. Make them own it, preferably in public.
  • Premise 2 is a statement about abortion. Most abortion defenders justify their position by saying that the unborn are not human, at least not until some arbitrary point on the gestation timeline. But people claiming to be pro-life don’t have that “out.” They will either have to agree with Premise 2 or explain why they oppose abortion in the first place.

“How does it follow,” Klusendorf asks, “that because pro-life advocates oppose the unjust killing of innocent human beings, they must therefore take personal responsibility for solving all of life’s ills?” Obviously, it doesn’t. Unless the contrarian can show how Premise 1 or 2 is false, the conclusion follows inescapably.

So, when it comes to the frontloaded “Whole Life” ethic (or whatever they call it), all those additional agenda items are, at best, unnecessary baggage. Dispense with them and make the pseudo pro-life utopian contend with the straightforward case for life. Leftwing manipulators don’t get to define what it means to be pro-life or set the terms of what it means to speak up for the unborn. Speak up for the unborn using this simple syllogism, and let the logic do its work.

has a BS in Computer Science and worked as a software engineer with IBM until she hopped off the career track to be a full-time mom. She lives in Indianapolis, IN, and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.

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