I’m pro-life. Pro-WHOLE-life.

I believe personhood begins before birth and continues throughout life, and I believe that personhood is worth protecting, whether inside a womb, fleeing Syria in search of a home*, under the knee of a policeman, or crossing the US border as a refugee. I believe all of life is valuable, no matter how small, marginalized or vulnerable.

Being pro-life but also pro-gay rights, pro-(reasonable) gun control, and pro-immigration, I’m sort of a political refugee, which is why I recently changed my party affiliation from Republican (I can no longer support the party platform or Donald Trump) to Independent.  I wish the Democrats did more to protect life before birth and I wish the Republicans would do more to protect life after birth.

I have voted for both pro-life and pro-choice candidates for political office, including Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008, and George W. Bush in 2004 and 2000. I now refuse to be bullied into voting for garbage politicians just because they claim to be pro-life.

By focusing exclusively on the legal components of abortion while simultaneously opposing family-friendly social policies, the Republican Party has managed to hold pro-life voters hostage with the promise of outlawing abortion while actively working against the very policies that would lead to a significant reduction in unwanted pregnancies.

Most women who choose to have abortions do so because they feel they cannot manage the financial burden of carrying out the pregnancy and raising another child. Why, then, would we oppose the very programs that would assist them in raising these children? Why did conservatives ridicule the clearly pro-life diaper distribution to needy families when Obama was president, calling it an example of a “nanny state”? Why do conservatives oppose maternity leave, universal health care, WIC, childcare provisions, and raising the minimum wage?  Why do conservatives oppose pro-family, pro-life assistance?

Whether you’re for defending unborn children, underage waitresses, or refugees, these are all issues of faith and compassion might band together in defense of vulnerable against the powerful. But there is no one political party that is consistent on these issues.

So even though I think abortion is morally wrong, and support more legal restrictions around it, I choose to vote for pro-choice candidates when I think their policies will do the most to address the health and economic concerns that drive women to get abortions in the first place. Because it works.

While there are some minor flaws in the CDC record-keeping (e.g. California doesn’t report abortions to them), it’s clear that abortions drop during Democratic administrations.

That said, what frustrates me about the pro-choice movement (and the Democratic Party) is the lengths to which advocates go to ignore any moral qualms about abortion, instead de-humanizing unborn children and sanitizing the abortion procedure, reducing life to nothing more than a cluster of cells and the implications of pregnancy to little more than a choice. That’s not what science tells us.

Efforts to encourage women to receive standard “informed consent” information (required for all other surgeries), including possible risks, which are not insignificant, prior to an abortion are stubbornly opposed. Why?

There is an NRA-esque obstinacy about abortion rights, maintaining that even rational limitations are a slippery slope and we need to have full abortion access up until birth (or full access to all guns for all people) with no incremental regulations, because of course those incremental steps are a means to banning. It’s ridiculous. Can we just be rational? Even post-abortion stress or grief counseling is downplayed and denied because it would imply there just might be something wrong with abortion, so the woman’s care is ignored to defend those all-important “rights” and the money that follows.

There’s been a growing push on the left to not only defend abortion as a necessary evil that should be “safe, legal, and rare” but to celebrate it as a positive good. Nope, I can’t go there. And Big Abortion is now in fourth place for the money they pump into political campaigns. The debate over abortion will continue and, contrary to some political arguments, even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, women will have access to abortions in almost every state. I am asking that we consider this issue seriously, leaving out the cheering and laughing and boasting and hashtagging (including “Shout Your Abortion” campaigns) about this profoundly important, serious and sad subject.

Just no.

I believe the state should protect the weak, not the strong. I believe that a just and progressive society responds to the problem of abortion with pro-women policies: childcare, adoption funding (instead of cutting the adoption tax credit like the Trump admin did), and better maternal health care, especially for black women, who are facing a mortality crisis.

Bottom line: women deserve better than abortion. By seriously addressing the problem of income inequality in this country so that no woman has to choose between getting an abortion or raising her child in poverty, we can truly care for her. It means celebrating parenthood by making America the most generous country in the developed world when it comes to maternity and paternity leave, not the least generous, and it means working together on efforts to reduce the costs of food, diapers, childcare, pediatrician visits, college tuition, adoption, and resources for special needs children.

If today’s “innocent human life” is tomorrow’s “welfare queen,” you might want to consider whether your convictions are truly pro-life or simply pro-birth. Will your fight for life continue when those babies grow up and the lives we’re talking about are kids stuck in the foster care system or in failing schools, teenagers struggling with addiction, immigrants looking for work, or young black men worrying that a traffic stop might end their lives?

The pro-life movement’s political marriage to Donald Trump over the last four years has changed conservative American Christianity profoundly, and not for the better. A world mirroring Trump’s attitudes about women, Blacks, people with disabilities, and the least of these, in general, is not a world I would wish on my grandchildren or their grandchildren, and Christianity remade in Trump’s image is not a religion I could ever be part of.

“What good is it if we gain the whole Supreme Court (in the hopes of reversing Roe v Wade) but lose our souls?” Pro-life is pro-woman, pro-special needs, pro-refugee, pro-outcast, and pro-poor. In other words, Pro-WHOLE-life.


Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is still intentionally starving children to death. He’s killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians with absolute impunity.

Author: Karen Graton McClaflin

I am a traveler, music lover, truth-seeker, debater, perpetual smiler, IPA connoisseur, promiscuous diner, cancer survivor, mom, Tutu, and wife.

One thought on “Pro-WHOLE-Life”

  1. Wow! This post is so beautiful, it’s hard to believe I’m not just dreaming about it! This is the most balanced view on the issue I’ve read anywhere. Well done, Karen! I’m in sync with you 100%. God bless you for this wonderful piece!


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