Who is Defining What it Means to Be Pro-life?

What does it mean to be pro-life in the current health care debate? From my observation, most pro-lifers get the answer to this question wrong. We get it wrong because we are letting the wrong people tell us what it means to be pro-life.

For many, interjecting a pro-life stance into the American health care debate means refusing funding for abortions. Therefore, it is this one issue that propels many pro-lifers to reject any health care reform proposal. Yet, are these same pro-lifers taking the time to consider how health care reform intersects with fundamental tenets of what it means to be pro-life?

T. R. Reid, in his book, “The Healing of America,” shares a disturbing fact: “The American health care system ranks dead last [out of 23 countries in 2006 Commonwealth Fund study] when it comes to keeping newborns alive. Our rate of infant mortality is more than twice as high as the rate in the top-ranked countries, Sweden and Japan.”* In addition to these two countries, the U.S. falls behind Norway, France, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Canada, & Poland.

What is one of the key differences between these countries and the United States when it comes to health care? These countries offer free prenatal and neonatal care for every mother and every baby as a part of its “universal” health care. Is this expensive? Yes. But it is less expensive than the heroic surgical efforts that are often used in the United States for threatened infants. Even with these heroic efforts in our well equipped and well staffed neonatal facilities, we still have an infant mortality rate of 6.8 out of every 1,000 births. Keeping health care status quo does not appear to be very pro-life.

Furthermore, another staggering statistic is where America lands on the list of longevity or life expectancy. According to CIA data from 2006, the United States does not rank in the top 10 or top 20. We barely make it in the top 50, coming in at #47—right behind Bosnia and Herzegovina. A lot of factors, such as crime, drug use, and war, contribute to life expectancy. Access to health care, however, is also a significant contributing factor. Shouldn’t pro-life advocates be concerned about the health and well being of those who make it through the first 9 months of life?

I can be labeled and put in a box. I am a white, middle aged male. I am a conservative evangelical Christian. I have never voted for a democrat in a presidential election. However, I am beginning to turn a deaf ear to the so-called conservative talking heads who are telling us how we are to vote and how we should view health care reform. We need to look at the facts in the face of what we say we believe. Yes, it is time for change. Health care is not a political stance; it is a moral issue. The way I see it, pro-life is pro-health care reform.

*2006 study by the Commonwealth Fund


For additional reading on the subject of health care in America, I highly recommend T. R. Reid’s The Healing of America. You can see a list of my favorite books, including The Healing of America at Jack’s Favorite Books



4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by amber on June 29, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Right on dad 🙂


  2. I’m glad to see more and more people making the distinction between Christian and political conservatism. You make some great points here, but there are other parts of the health care reform that concern me other than funding for abortion. One of those is health care workers who may be required to participate in abortion against conscience. Another is the care available for elderly. I read an article recently on the AARP and how they were adamantly against this until they basically got paid to endorse it. That is one concern I have heard regarding socialized medicine in other nations — it seems to take a “survival of the fittest” mentality.

    And, on another note, there is the entire issue of cost of care. We can get the same quality of care and medicine in Thailand for a fraction of the cost. Until health care reform takes a bite out of these issues, particularly the pharmaceutical execs and the lawyers who get rich off these things, we’re a long way off the mark.

    I would say, also, that we don’t realize how blessed we are to be #23. You know well, from your travels, and I’m learning first hand the status of health care in so many places is heart-wrenching.

    Anyway, great post, and I would be interested in your feedback on some of these other issues.


    • Posted by jackwbruce on August 29, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Renee, Great thoughts. Thanks for sharing. Obviously, all the points of healthcare can’t be touched on in one short blog post. Medical cost will continue to rise, the question is how can we contain it. Under the pre-HCR “system” the cost were skyrocketing and larger segments of our society were being left in the cold. Thankfully, the issue is certainly on the table now and regardless of what happens in November with the elections, healthcare will never be the same. We can only hope that improvements will continue to be made so that all people can have access to preventative and reasonable care. I am certainly not an expert, but perhaps more blog posts will be coming. -jack


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