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Pro-life movement should accept gays

One of the more interesting reactions to my column today comparing the gay rights movement and the pro-life movement came from John Buckley, who is associated with a group called the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL), an organization that combines both of these priorities. John says that the PLAGAL table is generally well received at gay pride events. But he also reports that this organization in the past has been refused permission to carry its signs at the annual March for Life that takes place in Washington each January. This strikes me as unfair and counterproductive. There is nothing inherently conservative or even religious about the pro-life cause (though many involved are both). It involves a set of convictions about the nature of developing life and the role of law in protecting the weak. People who oppose abortion come from a variety of backgrounds. Some I have known, for example, were active in the anti-Vietnam war movement and advocate a principled pacifism. A successful social movement builds its coalitions broadly. Those interested can check the website

By Michael Gerson  | March 12, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Gerson  | Tags:  Michael Gerson  
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The vast majority of those who are anti-abortion take this stand for religious reasons.

Whether those who are anti-abortion were "anti-Vietnam War" may demonstrate that some aren't conservative about US foreign policy, but it says absolutely nothing about what their religious beliefs are.

It also, by the way, only shows that they were not politically conservative in the 1960s and 70s, which says very little about whether they became conservative later. It does happen, you know.

However to write that there is nothing "inherhently conservative or religious" about being anti-abortion is false, in the case of religion.

There is a direct and very strong correlation between those who are anti-abortion and those who believe that a fetus composed of a few cells is already a full and independent life, to be granted all of the rights of a living individual because their religion tells them that this is so.

They're entitled to their religious beliefs, of course, though not to imposing theirs on others, in the opinion of most of us.

However we need to be honest that this is a religious belief, for the vast majority of those who are anti-abortion.

Posted by: Billy_Pilgrim | March 13, 2010 2:56 AM | Report abuse

"It involves a set of convictions about the nature of developing life and the role of law in protecting the weak."

You can stop lecturing now. See, it's you who has it wrong. It involves a set of convictions about how everybody else ought to live their lives.

Posted by: fzdybel | March 13, 2010 4:53 AM | Report abuse

I agree that Gerson got it wrong about relligious belief and the pro-llife movement. If you do not believe that life is sacred in some transcendant sense you really have no basis for arguing against abortion. There is no disagreement between the two camps that I know of about "the nature of developing life" in the womb. And it is illogical to say a fetus needs protection because it is "weak", unless you have already decided that it is in a decisive sense a human life.

I am in the camp of those who believe life sacred and a fetus an inchoate human life. But I admit that this is a relgious view.

Posted by: Roytex | March 13, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Good points, Michael

I view these two social issues as apples and oranges, however, with different approaches to support.

With the unborn, it is an awareness that all humans are created in the image and likeness of God and that God knows us even from the womb. It is what inherently draws us to God all our lives.

With gay rights you are dealing with choice and for most Christians we strive to love the sinner, not the sin.

But I admit as well that this is a religious view.

Posted by: 2009frank | March 13, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

It is quite a spectacle of hypocrisy when people advocating respect for human life spit in the faces of gay and lesbian adults who agree with them.

Posted by: uh_huhh | March 13, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

2009frank: "With gay rights you are dealing with choice...."

LOL! Yes, just like your choice to be straight--and ignorant.

Posted by: uh_huhh | March 13, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Adherents to the anti-abortion cause share one trait in common, and it's not anything as pious-sounding as sticking up for the weak. It's a common desire to control women. Maybe even a fear of women having any choices. Anyone (including some women) who fears this change in women's ability to choose her size of family is in the same camp. They can call themselves "pro-life" to put a positive spin on it. They can say they're pious believers in all life (in spite of their also being pro-guns, pro-death penalty, and pro-war and certainly not all vegans), but in fact, what they have in common is that they don't want women to have the simple right to choose the size of their families.

No group throughout history has been more protective and caring of babies than the female population of any country or culture. These anti-abortionists are late-comers indeed, and their motives have very little to do with babies. Pro-choice women ALSO might choose -- on the basis of principle, or religion, or culture -- to opt against abortion for themselves. Those people I trust. They have been free to choose values.

I do not trust the new-found piety of those who seek to take away the free choices and dictate a limited set of values, which are mostly political and religious, for half the population -- women. Gerson can sound as pious as he wants, but open-minded he is not.

Posted by: cturtle1 | March 13, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"You can stop lecturing now. See, it's you who has it wrong. It involves a set of convictions about how everybody else ought to live their lives."

I've always found comments like that of fzdybel above to be odd.

Yes. Of course that's what it is.

And if you believe, for example that we should have laws preventing other people from rape, or arson, or murder, then you too have convictions about how other people should "live their lives".

It's really such an obvious point, it shouldn't have to be made. But for some reason, the "Against abortion? Don't have one" argument survives.

Would you use such reasoning for say, child abuse? "Against child abuse? Don't hit your kid." "Against DWI? Then don't drink and drive." "Against rape..." The list is endless, and in every case shows this argument to be, well, stupid.

There are many reasons why a person would be pro-abortion rights. I respect many of them. But there is only one reason anybody is ever against abortion; we believe it destroys innocent human life.

Not sure why people don't get that.

And Gerson is spot on in his article.

Posted by: fm0623 | March 13, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Ever notice how anti-abortion types are so visibly unhappy, so outwardly unattractive, so mentally and emotionally underlit? Naturally, then, they’ll never need to make a choice. It follows that they’re jealous of people they will never get to be. Sure, some “God” loves them. No one else does. Good liberals will, as usual, forgive them, reach out to them, listen to them, help them --- and be treated like dirt in return. The poor anti-choice rubes get played by GOP hypocrites who take their money and their votes, while romping around like normal human beings on the sly. Ask the Palin, O’Reilly, Reagan, Bush, and McCain families about adultery, illegitimacy, and fornication (all while they preach “respect for life” and “family values” to the dopes beneath them).

Gerson probably just does it for the money. What else is he going to do?

Posted by: SydneyP | March 13, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Someone called SydneyP wrote a comment that comes as close to moral autism as I have seen.

Posted by: Roytex | March 14, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

"'Against abortion? Don't have one' argument survives.

Would you use such reasoning for say, child abuse? "Against child abuse? Don't hit your kid."

"Against DWI? Then don't drink and drive."

-These are false equivalents. In the case of an unwanted, unplanned preganncy, forcing the mother to bear the child is NOT an absolute good in the same way as is refraining from child abuse or staying sober in order to safely be able to operate a motor vehicle.

I do not claim that the act of abortion itself is a moral good. It is regrettable. But as is the case with soooo many other conservative stands on issues, the anti-choice crowd depicts the question of abortion as a simplistic choice between "good" and "evil," when it is almost always far more complex than that. I myself do not "advocate" abortion, but I do firmly believe that there are situations in which it is the best alternative, and those are not limited to rape/incest/life of the mother.

Posted by: bokonon13 | March 14, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree, that Pro-Life (even-Pro-gun) should accept gays. You don't have to like what someone does to allow them to do it. Such a small sacrifice to pull another 3% to 5% of votes over to more important issues.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | March 14, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Ironic, since gays cant produce children without resorting to normal sex or artificial means.

Posted by: nuke41 | March 14, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

"Pro Life" is a sham, a lie, a political tag line. These barbarians insist unwed mothers carry a child to term. Then where are they when this mother wants to dig herself out of poverty? Nowhere. Because this trailer trash was dumb enough to get pregnant she deserves her poverty, drug abuse and violent way of life.

"Pro Lifers" are anti-people. The conservative agenda is destroying our country. We don't need outside terrorists when we have the Republican Party, the largest terrorist organization in the world.

Posted by: BigTrees | March 14, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

It's within human reason to know that destruction of humanity is in opposition to the very act of our own existence.

In fact, the destruction of life is often a statement on one's refusal of self and their own capabilities.

Posted by: cprferry | March 14, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

-"These are false equivalents. In the case of an unwanted, unplanned preganncy, forcing the mother to bear the child is NOT an absolute good."

The statement is true enough. But in the vast majority of times someone hits a kid or drives drunk, nobody dies.

You appear to be a reasonable person, bokonon. You would agree that the notion of killing a human being is much worse than these other unequivalent examples.

The issue is, you don't believe abortion kills a human. If you did, I suspect we'd be in complete agreement. But the fact many people don't agree doesn't prevent those of us who have this sincere belief for advocating, voting and praying for a society that upholds this value.

(I have no place for the lunatic fringe on my side anymore than you do.)

What I don't understand is why people search for these secondary motives. It's about not taking human life. That's it.

Posted by: fm0623 | March 15, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

This is a good example how we have only one political party, the Democrats, and one religious party, the GOP.

The GOP is nearly monolithic now, with a clear religious test -- you must be a devout religionist of some kind.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are a collection of progressives, moderates and blue dogs. We have pro- and anti- abortion members -- some anti- who are also opposed to the death penalty and unnecessary wars, welfare for the destitute and healthcare for all, therefore deserving the label pro-life.

The GOP believes in a small-(revival)-tent with only true believers; the Democrats believe in a tent large enough for everyone, including pro-life gays.

Posted by: ColleenHarper | March 15, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

It's simple. Most of the pro-life crowd are religiuos zelots. The same people think homosexuality is a sin and goes against god's wishes. Case solved.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 15, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Excellent point, Mike. There is no real conflict between being gay and being pro-life. I think the pro-lifers should treat them as the separate issue that they are and let the PLAGAL folks participate.

Posted by: ZZim | March 15, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"It involves a set of convictions about the nature of developing life and the role of law in protecting the weak."

You can stop lecturing now. See, it's you who has it wrong. It involves a set of convictions about how everybody else ought to live their lives.

Isn't that the definition of ALL laws?

Like it or not but all laws and social norms are nothing more than some people forcing thier sense of morality on others.

Posted by: BradG | March 15, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Pro-life and disagreement(not hate and bigotry-as the gays throw at us)of the gay lifestyle boils down very simply to God's absolutes! Pre-borns with a beating heart are precious in His sight!And very rarely should be terminated-(even in cases of rape and incest-the child is still INNOCENT!)
Those who practice sodomy are an abhorrent to God and because of their sin cannot enter the eternal Kingdom. Very simple- absolute rules by which to live.

Posted by: lyn3 | March 15, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

PLAGAL gays/lesbians are almost, not exactly, but almost as retarded as the Log Cabin Republicans. Queer and Republican. Talk about moron's. As a gay man myself, I've watched the Log Cabin nimrods for several years, and they will never, ever wake up and smell the coffee. I can't believe any self-respecting lesbian would belong to that Log Cabin group, but anything's possible I guess.

The Pro-Life (anti-choice, we know better than you) Alliance of Gays and Lesbians are the same sort of wing nuts.

Posted by: donbsea1 | March 15, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

No reasonable person would debate that a fetus is not "alive".

And if it's not "human life", what kind of life is it?

As for this "religion" nonsense, it's a growing body with HUMAN DNA (not to mention little fingers and toes, a beating heart, brain waves, etc.).

Why on earth would you need a religion to tell you that's a human life when science and common sense should be doing it for you?

If you disagree, that's fine. But I'd love to hear you disprove this logic.

As the science into genetics and fetal development progresses, we will eventually reach a place where the act of killing these unborn children will be considered morally abhorrent.

Until then, feel free to dodge the question above if it makes you feel better.

But please don't blame this on religion. You have eyes, that's not a baby zucchini you're looking at in there.

Posted by: fm0623 | March 15, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

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