How to Respond to Colorado Springs: Being Intellectually Consistent Is Not Enough

By R.J. McVeigh, Director of Apologetics

Pro-lifers can spend a lot of time articulating the pro-life case, or “argument”. Dozens, if not hundreds, of people working in the Pro-Life Movement have literally dedicated their entire careers to teaching people on all sides of the abortion issue how to think clearly and use honest reason when assessing the morality of abortion. The central conclusion virtually all pro-lifers propose as justification of the pro-life case is that all biologically living members of the human species have an intrinsic right to life. The whole point of the pro-life case is that accidental properties of humans, such as their variances in size, development, or dependency, do not change their infinite value. So, pro-lifers argue, destroying a human fetus is a tragedy.

Many in the movement stress the importance for pro-lifers to be intellectually consistent. Especially in the aftermath of the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, the Pro-Life Movement as a whole has condemned the violence, and any other violence against Planned Parenthood, whether the motive was about abortion or not. As leading pro-life organizations have expressed, their reason for condemning this terrible attack is the same reason they oppose abortion: they oppose violence against all human beings. Pro-lifers are being intellectually consistent by condemning this attack, and rightly so.

But being intellectually consistent is not enough.

We must also be consistent with our compassion. Condemning such attacks must not be merely a “defensive move” of protecting ourselves; it must be an “offensive move” against violence. We mustgenuinely care about the victims of this attack on an emotionally equal level as we care about the pre-born that will be killed by abortion today. This is the only truly appropriate pro-life response. This is because responding with genuine compassion and care is the right thing to do. It is the Christ-like thing to do. And we should be willing to act upon that compassion.

Additionally, and conveniently, this is the strategic response. We must always remember that in order to end abortion we must be winning over people who initially oppose us. As pro-lifers are confronted with this attack in the weeks and months ahead, our first response must be one of compassion for the victims. We must articulate that it is not that we care about these victims “in addition” to our pro-life beliefs and reasoning, but it is that we care about these victims because of our pro-life beliefs and reasoning. We must demonstrate that we apply our beliefs consistently intellectually AND emotionally. No one will care how much you know about the situation or how well you can explain that the Pro-Life Movement is not responsible until they know how much you, personally, care about the situation.

It will also be worth mentioning that no one demonstrates this better in the midst of this terrible tragedy than Officer Garret Swasey. Officer Swasey was a pro-life church Pastor who risked his own life to save the Planned Parenthood workers from this terrible attack. And he ultimately gave his life for them. That is what a consistently compassionate pro-life person looks like.

Pro-lifers will also need to be prepared to discuss the “blame-the-rhetoric” argument that is already emerging from the Planned Parenthood side. When we are accused, as a movement, of inciting this violence via rhetoric, we ought to first calmly ask for specifics. If there are actual examples of anyone calling for violence against abortion supporters, we ought to immediate condemn those calls for violence. Surprising to some, we have common ground on this point – we can all agree to condemn calls to violence. However, pro-lifers strongly expressing their belief that abortion is wrong is not a call to violence. You should not use the crimes of one person to pressure another person to stop peacefully sharing sincere beliefs. And we need to be prepared to explain that.

In summary, it is okay for pro-lifers to prioritize their time and effort towards ending violence towards one particular demographic (the pre-born). This does not indicate that they do not care about other demographics (For example, society typically doesn’t accuse sexual assault prevention activists of “only caring about women” or “only caring about sexual assault”.). But pro-lifers DO need to be consistent in their compassion. When faced with tragedies with loss of human life, such as this attack in Colorado Springs, we need to care for and mourn the victims of these tragedies the same as we mourn the loss of life to abortion. It is the right thing to do, and it is the strategic pro-life thing to do.