Pro-life beyond abortion

Pro-life beyond abortion

April 28th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

The term "pro-life" has been inextricably linked to "anti-abortion." That's part of the definition, but one that is sadly limiting.

A great example is in the consistent work that Chattanooga's Orange Grove Center has done since 1953 for people who, in many cultures, would be viewed as "shameful" or resented for reducing a family's status.

America has been blessed to remain steadfast in the Judeo-Christian views reflected in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ..." With this perspective, the lives of those with disabilities, the elderly who are completely dependent on the care of others and the unborn are valued, not because of their contributions to society, but because of their intrinsic worth from the Creator.

In his chapter on "Disability and Culture" for the World Health Organization's guidelines on community-based rehabilitation, University of British Columbia adjunct professor Peter Coleridge writes, "many traditional societies do not have an exact equivalent in their own language for the word 'disabled,' and they can seldom match the three-tier concepts in English of 'impairment,' 'handicap' and 'disability' espoused by the [health organization] and disability theorists; they usually do, however, have words for specific impairments such as 'deaf,' 'blind,' 'lame,' and so on."

Dr. Coleridge observes that in many cultures "the disabled person is intrinsically of less value because of their disability." Whether it's the Afghan family shunned for its lack of cultural status because a disabled man cannot contribute to his family financially or, uniquely, a man in Mali deemed disabled for his "freckles and small buttocks" that are "counted as a serious impediment to marriage," how a disability is regarded reveals the structures, institutions and people seen as having value and celebrated in a particular society.

While organizations and ministries such as the Orange Grove Center have served area residents with developmental disabilities for decades, people working with the disabled in some former communist countries were called "defectologists" based on the narrow view of those assisted as "defective," according to the World Health Organization.

As America grows in population and diversity, there are many calls to rewrite the Constitution or to update our world view to be more accommodating to our global culture. The scientific community joins in with research that provides a definition of the "viability" of a life that could target the young and frail as well as the elderly and feeble.

Great care must be taken that those who write and enforce our public policy don't succumb to the chortles and snorts of those with a dim view of those who are "pro-life."

While the sting of headlines and political jabs come from some who condescend, the intellectually honest will agree that an authentic pro-life stance best represents and serves our democratic republic and all of her citizens.