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What does it really mean to be “pro-life”? Reflection from Trip to Romania

Since I came to America in 1993, I never understood the logic behind "pro-life" versus "pro-choice" catchphrases, but their real meaning is different from their wording. 

"Pro-life" is usually used and also sometimes overused by GOP party to show their human and pro-values. However, its meaning is very limited. It indicates that the party is against abortion and believes in the sanctity of life before the child is born. The official stance of the party is much more cynical and can be described by a following sentence: "we care for life until the baby is born, but after the baby is born it is on its own". So, the pro-life attitude of GOP party is very limited although the party likes to boast their pro-life credentials.

"Pro-choice" term is embraced by Democrats. The word "choice" is easy as well as cruel and can be described as "kill or not to kill". The mother of the baby has an alternative between keeping the baby or killing it. It is not a very nice choice. Democrats insist that the baby is a part of woman's body and a woman have a right to decide what to do with her body.  The role of a man in the process of making a baby is never taken seriously until the baby is born. But Democrats should deserve a credit with so called "value" voters because unknowingly they also propagate pro-life programs. Democrats in their party platform stress the care for education, health care and welfare systems as well as their general anti-war and anti-lobby stances. These are "pro-life" programs although they are not called this way.

Unfortunately many people who go to election are only one issue voters. They would vote for "pro-life" slogan without understanding the complexity of the "pro-life" issue. My elderly neighbor just told me that she cannot vote for Obama because he allows killing of the babies. I asked her - what about senseless killing of adults in Iraq (Iraqi civilians and American soldiers), are adults not important?   My point was, if we are for the sanctity of life, we should protect the whole life, not only the life until the baby is born. 

In general it is easy to see that there is no fully "pro-life" platform in any of two parties in the US. Both parties are only partly pro-life. People like me who are really pro-life miss the platform to express their opinions and beliefs.

The extreme "pro-life" stance reminds me Romania in 1980s. During that time Romania was ruled by Nicolae Ceasescu, as the absolute despot. He also tested his people to the extreme. When I visited Romania it was an impoverished country. I could see its former splendor but it was a sad country with no cars on the roads, no light after dark, since electricity was very limited and no milk in the stores. Ceasescu wanted to pay all foreign debts on the expense of wellbeing of his citizens. He ordered the export of much of the country's agricultural and industrial products in order to repay its debts.

To add to the hardships, Romania had a policy of banning abortion and forcing women to have many children. If you did not have any children after the age 25 you paid a huge tax, whether you were married or not. The inability to procreate due to medical reasons did not make a difference. The women who had ten children or more were declared "heroines of the nation".

I visited Romania with the group of Polish tourists twice in 1980s. We traveled in a Polish tour bus. Whenever our bus stopped in the center of small or big towns we were surrounded by wild groups of children of different age. Some were still very small but able to walk or run. There were no any adults nearby as like all these kids were growing on the streets. These children were literally but they were also hungry for the attention. They were touching us, our cloths, anything which was available - rings, necklaces, beads as like they did not have any toys.  Their parents, if they have any, were probably busy working, since the working week for people in Romania was longer than anywhere else. These scenes were very sad, we were not prepared for it and did not know how to help. I remember a mother with a small child who wanted to buy powdered milk for her baby. We did not have any. In the stores in Romania it was easier to buy a beer than milk in that time. I remember ghostly empty roads and then a tractor carrying the trailer. The trailer was overcrowded with children probably having a ride to school. When these kids saw our bus they all crowded to one side of the barrier of the trailer. It was a scary picture. We were afraid that the barrier would just give up and all the kids would fell down.

The Romanian orphanages became notorious for being crowded with too many children and with no sufficient care and full of filth.  It shows how dangerous are the extreme policies which force people to have babies but do not give them enough resources to care for them.

People need to understand that any policy building needs to be done in a comprehensive way. If we want children to be born we need to be prepared for their coming. Life is too precious to be mishandled. I remember reading in "Idaho Catholic Register" that it is hard to find real pro-life politicians and lobby them in Washington - politicians who embrace not only anti-abortion stance but also anti-poverty ideas.

Until we will have a real "pro-life" party here I will carry an unusual and seemingly contradictory sticker on the back of my car which reads "pro-life democrat."

Pro-life democrats have even their website. You can visit it at: http://www.democratsforlife.org/

Copyrights Baba Jaga Corner
2008

This article was published in the complete paper edition of Polish-American Journal, you may subscribe to it here


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