BARRETT: Reevaluating pro-life

Tom Barrett

With next year’s presidential race slowly creeping its way into the mainstream media, the usual hot-button issues are bound to surface more and more frequently. It won’t be long before the pro-life brigade is out with picket signs and pamphlets to get people to vote for a candidate that will promote the sanctity of life. They’ll be calling for the outlawing of abortion, the elimination of the death penalty and maybe even for the continued ban of assisted suicide. But there’s one thing I can almost guarantee that you won’t be hearing about from these people: poverty.

You might be asking, “What does poverty have to do with abortion or capital punishment?” First, the mission of pro-life supporters is to preserve the sacredness of every living creature and protect everyone’s right to life. They strive to protect the right to life for those who can’t protect it for themselves, and this list includes everyone from freshly fertilized fetuses all the way to death row convicts.

The majority of impoverished people in our country and around the world lead lives that most people would not consider truly living. Many of these people do not have the luxury of planning their next family vacation. Instead, they are worried about where their next meal is going to come from or whether or not they are going to have a place to live in a week. These people are, for the most part, not the typical lazy, unmotivated bums that we’d like to think they are. Instead, the majority of the world’s poor were born into their economic plight.

Around the world, one-sixth of the world’s population lives on less than $1 a day and another one-sixth lives on less than $2, according to Bread for the World. According to the 2005 U.S. Census, 37 million people in our country (12.6 percent of the population) fall under the national poverty line (an annual income of $16,000 for a family of three). For these people, education and healthcare – things most U.S. citizens would consider basic rights – are unaffordable luxuries. Children are left with little choice but to attend their downtrodden, poorly funded and poorly functioning schools. The so-called “diseases of poverty” – HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis – devastate poor communities around the globe at staggering rates, even though they are considered easily treatable today. With the United States having as strong an economy as it does, this is completely unacceptable.

Anyone who considers him or herself to be pro-life ought to reevaluate what the “right to life” means. How can one consciously defend the rights of the unborn and at the same time neglect to stand up for those already living and enduring the unending hardships of this life? It seems that doing so would be hypocrisy. Those who do not have a voice to protect themselves should be defended, but this group includes more than just fetuses and convicts. If the sanctity of life is to be defended, it must be done so for all people, not just the unborn.


Tom Barrett is a sophomore philosophy major from Colonia, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].