Why Would a Pagan be ProLife?

Chances are good this site surprised you in some way; there aren't many prolife pagan websites out there. In fact, I typed "pagan AND prolife" into a search engine recently and found two. One of them was a broken link. So I think it's fair to say, you probably haven't seen all that many websites like this one. I hope it was a pleasant sort of surprise, at finding others who think like you do - if so, please, please see the link about submitting your own writing! (go here - pretty please!)

Of course, being realistic rather than indulging my fantasies of receiving piles and piles of prolife pagan essays, it's more likely you're either a pagan prochoicer or a Christian prolifer, looking at this site going "Huh? Why on earth would a *pagan* be *prolife*?"

Well, why *wouldn't* a pagan be prolife?

There are reasons, of course, good and practical reasons. The first that pops to mind is the political climate here in the US; our social politics are still very much defined in Biblical and anti-Biblical terms.

A pagan is going to have a pretty hard time finding a candidate who supports genuine religious freedom and equality and also opposes abortion; for the most part, prolife politicians identify strongly with the so-called 'religious right'. A pagan who sees nature as sacred and considers preserving the environment a top priority may have difficulty finding someone to vote for who wants to save both wetlands and unborn babies. Generally speaking, prolife politicians are fiscal conservatives, and fiscal conservatives tend not to be too big on anything that might inhibit businesses - like environmental standards. Good luck to you finding a prolifer to elect who considers human sexuality a natural and sacred thing, and supports comprehensive sex ed, while opposing abortion. And don't hold your breath waiting for a member of our electorate to support gay rights and prenatal rights simultaneously.

The groups with political clout who are supportive of paganism and pagan causes - feminists who love the idea of goddess worship, environmentalists, civil rights groups - tend to be supportive of abortion rights. Abortion is part and parcel of the progressive ideology today; those who oppose abortion are deemed de facto enemies, whether they're also feminist or ecologically minded or supportive of civil rights or not. Anyone who won't jump on the pro-choice bandwagon is automatically tossed aside as a presumed Bible-thumper, or at the very least, an anti-woman control freak.

And then there's the prolife movement itself; it's not exactly welcoming of diversity. The director of the March for Life had a gay prolife group arrested last year for displaying a banner with the words "gay" and "lesbian" on it. Many mainstream prolife groups still use the term "pagan" as perjurative - "our pagan culture encourages abortion", or something similar. A fair number of mainstream prolifers would be astonished by the idea that prolife pagans even exist.

Essentially, it's easier to just go with the pro-choice flow than to alienate your allies, try to force alliances with your enemies, or attempt to find the rare group or candidate you can support without sacrificing a slice of your conscience.

And pagans are no less susceptible to the usual temptations of abortion than anyone else. We experience unplanned pregnancies, we go through times of financial difficulty where a new child might just break us, we cringe at the hard cases of rape or fetal disability along with everyone else.

So why should a pagan be prolife?

Because all of the aforementioned ought to be irrelevant, if we are serious in our beliefs.

While there are many, many pagan paths, the vast majority hold nature, and the natural order, and life itself to be sacred. We teach personal responsibility, not because we'll be tossed into hell for disobedience, but because we see that there will be real-world, practical consequences if we don't live carefully, thoughtfully, and respectfully on the Earth and amoung our fellow human beings. Many of us worship Goddesses, and hold fertility and sexuality to be sacred. We see all things interconnected and hold in reverence the cycles of the seasons, of light and dark, growth and death and rebirth. Some of us follow the Wiccan Rede, which tells us to "harm hone". We're given the admonition that whatever you do in this world, it will come back to you three-fold.

How, then, can we possibly justify abortion?

Abortion takes a human life; this is not a matter of ideology or dogma, but simple scientific fact. It causes irreparable harm to one who is entirely innocent and helpless, one of the greatest injuries one person can possibly inflict on another. It denies the gift of fertility and treats pregnancy as a disease and a weakness in women, rather than a strength and blessing. It says women themselves are weak, unable to cope with financial difficulty, unwilling to sacrifice for their children, victims of their society and their biology. Rather that respecting pregnancy as part of the cycle of human existance and the natural continuation of human sexuality, abortion reduces gestation to the level of a sexual hangover, an unwelcome side-effect, "getting caught". It treats life as disposable, not inherently sacred and possessed of its own immeasurable value, but inherently useless and worth preserving only if someone wants it. Rather than acknowledging that every living thing, from the smallest and simplest to the greatest and most complex, has a unique and irreplaceable role in the natural balance of our world, it says that those who cannot fend for themselves can be tossed aside without consequence.

If we're going to be honest with ourselves, we should admit we know the ideology behind abortion is at best disrespectful of women's bodies and fertility, scornful of nature, immature in its view of responsibility. The best you can say of abortion rights, really, is that they allow free will - but the powerful always have the freedom to exercise their will, by virtue of their power. There is no question that in a pregnancy, the mother is the powerful one, with a natural responsibility to nuture and protect the dependent fetus. Why should the government ignore the natural bond and responsibility of mother to child, and instead proclaim that the mother may kill her child because of its dependency? If the government exists only to assert the so-called rights of the powerful, why do we need government at all?

We ought to encourage the government to see the fetus in the same way we would like the government to see religious minorities, or endangered species - as valuable and vulnerable and in need of protection. Because at its worst, the mentality behind legal abortion is no more or less than the same simple bigotry which is responsible for everything from the pillaging of our environment to the harrassment of minority religions - the simple inability to recognize a life unlike your own as actually being a real and valuable life.

Yes, standing up for the rights of the unborn can be quite inconvenient for us. It can even be frightening to be faced with the bigotry that, unfortunately, pervades the prolife movement. It can be frustrating to lack leaders who will support all our causes, who will see the unifying thread of respect for life and responsibility. It can be hurtful to be rejected and misunderstood even by friends, to be the odd one out even amoung the outcasts. Being prolife can leave us politically homeless, rejected and ridiculed.

But then, so can being pagan.

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