The first post on a new blog has to be the hardest to write. In fact I didn’t really have a clue how to start... A cheery “hello” followed by a group bio? Or should we introduce ourselves one by one? Should I launch straight in there with an impassioned statement of our aims? (Because we are impassioned about this topic.) In the end I realised I didn’t have a clue so I’ve just started in, somehow or another.
We are, as the sidebar says, a group of parishioners from a church in the south of England who get together regularly to “do our bit” towards promoting respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life from conception until natural death. This blog is a way of trying to reach out beyond the walls of our church hall, our houses and the town where we live and make contact with others out there who feel the same (or don’t feel the same but are open to discussing it).
“Pro life” is a big phrase. It’s often interpreted narrowly as “against abortion” but actually covers so much more. Being “for life” involves respecting the incredible, immeasurable value of each and every person, and that has ramifications far beyond the womb and far beyond what we normally define as being in the pro-life category. So what does St John’s pro life group think it means...?
OK. It means respecting that every human embryo, however created – in fact even every human blastocyst in its earliest stages – is exactly that, human. Therefore the embryo has a right not to be thought of as raw material for scientific study, however well-intentioned the aims, and he/she has a right to live for as long as he/she is naturally able – for who is to draw the dividing line that says, “Now this is a person”? The path of development from two cells to baby to pre-pubescent child to adult is a continuum. Human being at each of the later three stages look, behave and feel very differently but we do not admit a right to terminate the lives of any of them.
It means respecting the value of each person whether or not they are able to walk, speak or be economically productive and however far from “perfect” their appearance is or however limited their range of obvious talents. Importantly, it means helping people in all sorts of circumstances appreciate their own value. It means giving the elderly and the ill a reason to live, not reasons to die. It means realising that suffering and physical or mental limitations do not automatically preclude what we (sometimes rather nebulously) refer to as “quality of life”. It means understanding that we are all in this thing (this amazing, wonderful, terrible, painful, challenging thing) called life together and that our care and our support can make life worth living for others.
It means caring about justice and peace and war and hunger and poverty too. The respect for human life that motivates the pro-life campaigner is the very same respect that sends aid workers to war-torn regions and prompts us to give money to appeals for areas stricken by natural catastrophe. We cannot advocate for the rights of our suffering brothers and sisters in Africa but ignore those of our brothers and sisters unable to speak for themselves because they are still in the womb or incapacitated by illness.
That’s probably a long enough post to be beginning with (I said we were impassioned!). Each member of our group has their own story and some of us will share those with you, if you’d like. We will update this blog with news and views on the latest pro-life issues and campaigns. And we’ll try to keep it light from time to time, on the grounds that a simple smile can make the whole world look different...