Robert Sisson, 2/8/2012 [Archive]

Pro-Life's Hersey

Pro-Life's Hersey

By Robert Sisson

As a conservative Catholic, I am ardently pro-life. But, years ago, I stopped making annual donations to local, state, and national right-to-life organizations.

The hypocrisy of the pro-life movement hit me like a ton of bricks during the 2010 Michigan Republican gubernatorial primary. Michigan Right to Life's (MRTL) political action committee attacked a GOP candidate, Rick Snyder, with endless television ads and direct mail pieces. Snyder, who went on to win the primary and the general election, didn't meet 100 percent of MRTL's litmus test.

The problem was, in the minds of many, Snyder embodied a more complete pro-life platform than any other candidate. His position on abortion was the same or more conservative than his opponents. He received endorsements from multiple environmental groups, including Republicans for Environmental Protection. Snyder spoke frequently about Michigan's special role in protecting the Great Lakes, the source of drinking water for more than 40 million people. His vision for a new economy in Michigan highlighted our natural beauty, state parks, and outdoor recreational assets. He was the only candidate to personally visit the site of the Enbridge pipeline oil spill into the Kalamazoo River. As a long time director for the state affiliate of The Nature Conservancy, he had a real record of conservation and preservation.

When I shared my opinion with MRTL, the answer I received was that environmental protection is not a pro-life issue or priority. How can that be?

More than 400,000 infants are born in the United States each year with health issues caused by in-utero mercury contamination. Conservative talk show pundits poke fun at the fact that CFL light bulbs contain microscopic amounts of mercury, but never mention the 50 tons of mercury emitted annually by coal-fired power plants in the U.S. Great Lakes region residents are advised to avoid eating wild fish caught in our lakes and streams, due to mercury contamination of our waters. Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health released a study that reports one out of ten babies born in that state has dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies. What happens to life if we cannot eat food and drink water?

Of course, the elephant in the room (and I'm not referring to my fellow Republicans) is climate change. Already, we are witnessing enormous human suffering in Africa and Asia, where mass migrations caused by drought or rising sea levels are underway. Unabated, it is only a matter of time until those problems haunt the shores of the land of milk and honey.

Every major U.S. faith based organization has issued strong statements in support of climate protection. Pope Benedict IV has earned the honorific "the Green Pope" for his efforts. In his 2012 annual address to the diplomatic corps, he said: "If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn? It is in man's respect for himself that his sense of responsibility for creation is shown."

This is the heresy of the pro-life movement. It supports candidates who oppose abortion, but who otherwise are contemptuous of efforts to protect human life and God's creation.

Recent polls report that 27 percent of self-identified evangelical Christians, primarily young adults, are no longer single issue pro-lifers. Groups like Christian Coalition, Catholic Climate Covenant and Evangelical Environmental Network are growing at a fast pace as more and more people in the pews adopt all-encompassing pro-life views. Since people of faith come from across the political spectrum, traditional pro-life groups rooted in faith have an opportunity to consolidate a vast swath of voters. Elimination of the hypocrisy inherent in its platform clears the way for the pro-life movement to piece together a game changing coalition.

Of course, many conservative opinion makers will recognize in some conservation efforts a risk to the profits of their keepers, and will fight to prevent pro-life organizations from this adopting this idea. Proverbs 16:8 speaks to this: "Better is little with righteousness than great income with injustice."

The question is, will traditional right-to-life groups correct their heresy and take advantage of this opportunity? If they don't, they risk ceding members and their donations to more proactive, more wholly conservative groups.

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©Copyright 2012 Robert Sisson, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Rob Sisson is president of Republicans for Environmental Protection, a national grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the GOP's great conservation tradition. Robert can be reached at rsisson@rep.org.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.




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