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The 'Pro-Life' Lie
Published on Wednesday, February 2, 2005 by
The 'Pro-Life' Lie
People should be judged by the ideals they most loudly profess

by Daniel C. Maguire
OK, 'Pro-Lifers,' here goes.

Archbishop Tutu (would that we had even one bishop like him in the United States!) writes:

'Some 2 million children have died in dozens of wars during the past decade. This is more than three times the number of battlefield deaths of American soldiers in all their wars since 1776. Today, civilians account for more than 90 percent of war casualties.'

Children are the prime casualties of modern war. As Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University writes:

'Children in urban war zones die in vast numbers, not just due to violence, but also from diarrhea, respiratory infections and other causes, owing to unsafe drinking water, lack of refrigerated foods, and acute shortages of blood and basic medicines in clinics and hospitals.'

Pregnant women and their fetuses suffer from these same lethal deprivations and pregnant women and their fetuses are being bombed in their homes. If you who sanctimoniously wear the 'pro-life' banner were really pro-life-and pro-fetus, that would bother you and we would be hearing your voices raised powerfully in peace protests around the world. We don't. Therefore we must conclude that you are not 'pro-life' and that if you say you are, you are liars. American military leaders in Iraq have been quoted as saying 'we don't do body counts.' (Interesting, since even 'the mob' does body counts.)

The respected British journal The Lancet did a body-count of civilians killed in Iraq. They concluded that there are more than 100,000 civilians deaths, most due to U.S. Military action. President Bush is responsible for those murders because he entered this war without the Declaration of War that the constitution (Article one, Section 8) requires. A cowardly Congress in a week of infamy (October 3-10, 2002) limply handed over their war-declaring rights to him, giving the president open-ended authority to use unrestricted power, which could mean nuclear weapons whenever he alone deemed it appropriate. How did those who call them selves 'pro-life' respond to this appalling assault on the Constitution and on life. They voted en masse for George W. Bush, the slaughter-master of Iraq, the killer of civilian men, women and children, including pregnant women and their fetuses in a war that Pope John Paul called a 'defeat for humanity.' Mr. Bush said he saw their vote as an endorsement of his war. He was right. The election was a chance to vote against that war, but, overwhelmingly the so called 'pro-life' vote was for war.

Can you understand why we call you liars? Sister Joan Chittister writes of a front page, large four-color picture in The Irish Times of a small Iraqi girl. 'Her little body was a coil of steel. She sat knees up, cowering, screaming madly into the dark night. Her white clothes and spread hands and small tight face were blood-spattered. The blood was the blood of her father and mother, shot through the car window in Tal Afar by American soldiers while she sat beside her parents in the car, her four brothers and sisters in the back seat.' Indifference to this and to all those war crimes like it, on the part of anyone is criminal and sinful in the extreme. Indifference to it by those who canonize themselves with the 'pro-life' insignia shown by their recent vote for more of it, is even worse. Such hypocrisy should be called by its name. Its name is fraud. Its name is lying, lying under the very banner of 'life.'

Daniel C. Maguire is a Catholic Theologian and Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University. He can be contacted at


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