Protecting the most vulnerable is a sign of civilization - and on the ballot this fall

Protecting the most vulnerable is a sign of civilization - and on the ballot this fall ( Chiến Phạm/Unsplash)

The premise of being a single-issue voter is often met with condescension. As if only a simple-minded person would think so narrowly. Especially if the single issue is protecting those not yet born.

There are other issues to consider; to be focused on one issue may appear clueless. Clueless to the fact that the rest of the living world has to deal with injustice, inflation, international wars, poverty, hunger, and limited housing options. The long list of concerns goes on and on. Important issues, which matter a lot.

But only to the living.

Not one of these issues is a concern for the dead. You have to be alive to care about job opportunities and poverty. You must be breathing to care about the devastating geopolitical events occurring around the world. 

No other issue matters if you aren’t born first. Not one.

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So, when I say pro-life issues are the most important, I mean the right to be born is the first right. No other right, concern, or voting issue matters if you aren’t alive.

We feel the weight of all these other issues because we are among the living. We were safe when we were tucked inside our mothers, growing out of sight; but alive, nonetheless. 

I’m able to write this and you’re able to read this because we’ve already crossed this gigantic hurdle that, every year, hundreds of thousands in the U.S. don’t. We escaped the brutal possibility of abortion.

And so, we, who have been born, will head to the polls to vote on the issues that concern us now.

But we must not forget our first right – life.

Rather than fast forward to the issues that affect us post-birth, we must first defend those who are not as safe as we were. It is forgetful and self-centered when we do not care about issues – like abortion – that can no longer grab us personally. We must remember that we were once vulnerable to abortion, too. 

Tweet This: The right to be born is the first right. No other right, concern, or voting issue matters if you aren’t alive.

I’m reminded of a story about a lecture given by anthropologist Margaret Mead. When asked what she considered evidence of the first sign of civilization, she noted an archeological discovery of an ancient thigh bone. The bone had been broken and healed. 

The healed bone signified that someone had helped the one with the broken bone and cared for the person through the healing process. The life of the vulnerable was protected by someone else. To her, that signified a civilized culture.

Protecting the most vulnerable – those who would die without our help – is indeed a sign of a civilized nation. But is it a sign of our nation? The evidence we don’t see – millions of discarded preborn bodies – tells a different story.

Though most agree on the right to protection for everyone beyond the delivery room, it seems we’ve lost our way to the delivery room. The safety of that trip rests completely on someone else’s decision - and it's not just the mother’s.

It’s also yours and mine. When we don’t work toward securing laws that protect the unborn, we are all part of the practice, the accessibility, the acceptability – whatever word you choose to use – of abortion. 

And laws start with people. Like the ones we see on our ballots. That’s why we choose our representatives carefully.

Protecting the unborn may not singularly qualify a candidate, but not protecting the unborn seems like a pretty good reason to disqualify a candidate. It is the issue that allows all other issues to matter at all. 

But we’re post-Roe, you say. True. Technically. But last year’s Supreme Court vote did not change hearts at the state level. And while the Supreme Court overruled the federal right to an abortion, states still have the right to determine the fate of the unborn within their boundaries.

As we wait on a comprehensive report about the current incidence of abortion across the U.S., reports already show that though some states have seen a dramatic decrease in abortions since last year’s Dobbs decision, other states have seen a steep increase.

Here in the autumn of 2023, races across the U.S. are notably about abortion.

Just in the past two months, I’ve received three texts encouraging me to vote. The messages urged me to vote because “reproductive rights are on the ballot this fall” in my state. I’m guessing they’re on the ballot in many (if not all) states. 

Those texts make it clear: this is a single issue for voters on both sides of the abortion aisle. 

So, as you consider your candidates this year, remember. Slow down and remember that the sanitized “right to choose” slogan really means the right to end the life of a living human baby. 

As a nation – as a civilized nation – we are better than this. Our humanity calls us to protect those most vulnerable, just like we were protected. The reason we get to vote is because we weren’t aborted. How then can we just close the curtain and vote for a candidate who supports the deaths of unborn babies? Others deserve the same protection we received. It’s their first right, too.

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