Skip to main content

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:
HIDE CAPTION
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
March for Life
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
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.

GOP tackles the abortion war
Free Speech vs. Abortion Rights
Court rejects Arizona's abortion appeal

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.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

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

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 2129 GMT (0529 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
April 13, 2014 -- Updated 1856 GMT (0256 HKT)
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1522 GMT (2322 HKT)
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1906 GMT (0306 HKT)
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
April 12, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1522 GMT (2322 HKT)
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
Simon Tisdall: Has John Kerry's recent track record left Russia's wily leader ever more convinced of U.S. weakness?
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1640 GMT (0040 HKT)
Mel Robbins says Nate Scimio deserves credit for acting bravely in a frightening attack and shouldn't be criticized for posting a selfie afterward
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1839 GMT (0239 HKT)
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Dr. Mary Mulcahy says doctors who tell their patients the truth risk getting bad ratings from them
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says the married Rep. McAllister, caught on video making out with a staffer, won't get a pass from voters who elected him as a Christian conservative with family values
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1143 GMT (1943 HKT)
David Frum says the president has failed to react strongly to crises in Iran, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela, encouraging others to act out
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
Eric Liu says Paul Ryan gets it very wrong: The U.S.'s problem is not a culture of poverty, it is a culture of wealth that is destroying the American value linking work and reward
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Frida Ghitis writes: "We are still seeing the world mostly through men's eyes. We are still hearing it explained to us mostly by men."
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Chester Wisniewski says the Heartbleed bug shows how we're all tangled together, relying on each other for Internet security
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1926 GMT (0326 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says an Ohio school that suspended a little kid for pointing his finger at another kid and pretending to shoot shows the growth in "zero tolerance" policies at school run amok
ADVERTISEMENT