A genuine pro-life ethic protects spiritual health. 


(LifeSiteNews) —The right and left usually have very defined positions. The right defends, for example, private property, police, border security, and gun rights. The left’s concerns include economic equality, critical race theory, immigration, and gun control. Arguably the most significant contrast between these two sides lies in the abortion debate. The left is overwhelmingly pro-abortion. 

Father James Martin, however, is looking to change this. 

In 2019, the well-known American Jesuit penned an article in America magazine entitled “Why I am Pro-Life.” The magazine’s editors recently re-featured the piece, perhaps because the abortion debate has intensified following the Mississippi law that challenges the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. 

The article employs many phrases attractive to pro-life advocates; they immediately stand out. Martin describes the life of the unborn as “precious” and “at risk.” He also asserts that the world needs to develop a “respect for life.”  How different these words sound compared to the liberal rhetoric favoring the homosexual agenda, so characteristic to him. Has Father Martin changed? 

He answers this question in the article with an anecdote about an encounter at Georgetown University. He was conversing with a woman when his position regarding abortion came up. The woman expressed surprise, which he claims surprised him. It was because he also advocates for causes “usually championed by those who identify as politically progressive.” 

To Martin, pro-life means merging all these issues into one contradictory ideology, reconciling traditional and “non-traditional” life issues. His motive for developing an impossible “coexistence” is suggested when he states that “many of the women I love, respect, and admire support abortion rights.” 

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A ‘broader’ version of pro-life

The key to understanding Martin’s position is his broad definition of “pro-life,” which extends beyond the abortion issue alone. He incorporates leftist agitprop with his anti-abortion position. The unborn are only one among many different groups he believes need to be defended equally by activists worldwide. 

His article defines a pro-life movement that would defend these threatened people: 

  • He says he often thinks of “the 68 million refugees, migrants and internally displaced people” as pro-life since the most important “pro-life activity” is “to flee.” 
  • Another life issue is the “LGBT people” and teenagers he believes are threatened not by their self-destructive lifestyles but by prejudice and rejection from their families. 
  • He describes as vulnerable “the lives of street-gang members in the violent, deadly and now-demolished housing projects in Chicago.” 

Thus, he summarized this indiscriminate defense of life as “valuing all life,” which takes on a class struggle tone that blames all suffering on social structures and not on personal responsibility. 

Martin adopts a “seamless garment” approach to the pro-life issue. This theory is based on the Consistent Ethic of Life statement of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the late Archbishop of Chicago known for advocating ecumenism and establishing an AIDS task force. The approach holds that all “life” issues should be treated with equal importance and application, which naturally minimizes the significance of the abortion issue. 

Martin argues that the seamless garment approach is misunderstood. The defense of these other social issues and the unborn will not weaken but strengthen one another, he says. Thus, he proposes a redefining of the pro-life movement. 

“Perhaps it is time to expand our understanding of what it means to be pro-life,” he says as he notes that “many thoughtful people who proposed other ways of framing the discussion: ‘Whole Life,’ ‘One Life,’ ‘Every Life.’ These may be some helpful ways forward.” 

This proposed alternative to the current pro-life movement attempts to unite an irreconcilable conflict between virtue and vice. The defense of the unborn involves saving innocent lives. Some of the other issues mentioned encompass saving lives in need of reform and conversion. Yet other issues are politicized by the left to fit its narratives. 

The mixture of all these causes fails to consider sin and the personal responsibility to avoid it. Thus, a seamless garment where one evil is practiced will only lead to its growth in the other. To expect any other outcome is illogical.