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Why progressives should oppose abortion

By Christopher Hale
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 2336 GMT (0736 HKT)
Anti-abortion activists participate in a "Memorial Die-in" outside the White House on Tuesday, January 21. People from all around the country are planning to gather in Washington for the annual March for Life on Wednesday to protest the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973 that helped to legalize abortion in the United States. Take a look back at the annual rally through the years: Anti-abortion activists participate in a "Memorial Die-in" outside the White House on Tuesday, January 21. People from all around the country are planning to gather in Washington for the annual March for Life on Wednesday to protest the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973 that helped to legalize abortion in the United States. Take a look back at the annual rally through the years:
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Christopher Hale: Protecting unborn children should be at the heart of the progressive agenda
  • It requires an advanced citizenship, he says
  • Hale: Radical inclusivity is at the heart of the progressive tradition

Editor's note: Christopher Hale is a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a progressive Catholic political advocacy group, and the co-founder of Millennial. He helped lead national Catholic outreach for President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. You can follow him on Twitter @chrisjollyhale.

(CNN) -- As the 41st Annual March for Life commences in Washington on Wednesday, the headlines will be predictable: "Conservatives come together to protest legalized abortion."

That's unfortunate, because to me it's clear: protecting the lives of unborn children should be at the heart of the progressive agenda.

Progressives believe that society must continually extend its embrace to all persons, no matter who they are.

And make no mistake, the child in the womb is indeed a human. This isn't a religious or metaphysical claim, but a scientific assertion that is verifiable at the moment of conception.

Christopher Hale
Christopher Hale

The child at conception has a completely human DNA composition. The child's sex, eye color and major physical traits are already determined at that very moment. From the beginning, the child isn't an it, but rather a she, a he.

A human being.

And deeply rooted in the history of human society is the belief that every human being has dignity and the right to live in that dignity.

As progressives, we further believe that the government plays a crucial role in protecting that dignity, especially among those who face adverse societal conditions: the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, the uninsured, single parents, gay and lesbians — and yes — the unborn.

This radical inclusivity is at the heart of the progressive tradition. And while it sounds romantic, in practice it isn't easy.

It requires an advanced citizenship where our people and our elected leaders are constantly looking to increase the mantle of justice beyond current norms.

Both parties have failed in this effort. Our leaders in government continually create and promote policies that instead perpetuate a throwaway culture in which people who aren't seen as valuable to economic advancement are left behind.

Pro-choice progressives should reject this. But by advocating policies that create a false dichotomy between supporting pregnant women and protecting the lives of unborn children, they are willful participants.

These policies are rooted in a social Darwinism that pits people against each other in the pursuit of living. In short, it is the belief that if the child lives, the woman loses. But in reality, we all lose in a country where the death of an innocent child is considered a measure of progress and freedom.

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In fact, this is the antithesis of a forward-thinking society. And pro-life progressives must start making their voices heard on this, one of the most crucial social justice issues of our time.

But it's also important to draw some lines in the sand. The Republican leaders in Congress might imagine themselves to be pro-life, but their policies and their actions reveal most of them to simply be pro-birth.

To be authentically pro-life, you cannot simply support a child's right to be born, but also the rights of the woman bearing the child to significant support from her community and her government.

Every mother deserves access to quality prenatal care, adoption services, baby supplies, government-guaranteed paid parental leave, childcare and quality and affordable health care.

In their three years in leadership Republicans in the House have passed bill after bill that significantly cuts the social framework that protects both mother and child throughout the early formative years of a child's life.

You can't be pro-life and anti-government, and you can't be pro-life and anti-woman. It doesn't work.

We also must find the societal courage to stand up for fatherhood. Too many men have struggled to fulfill their role as fathers, and our children suffer for it.

But the fault does not lie with the men alone. Poor education, unequal drug law enforcement and sentencing disparities create unfair disadvantages for some in our society. While we are addressing these issues, we also must put the full educational resources of our government and our communities at work to teach men how to be fathers even amid the social injustices that exist.

In the final analysis, it takes both a family and a village to raise a child. We're all in this struggle together, and we must use everything at our disposal to give our children what they deserve: a life, a family and a future.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Christopher Hale.

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