Pro-life is a term representing a variety of perspectives and activist movements in bioethics. It can be used to indicate opposition to practices such as euthanasia, human cloning, research involving human embryonic stem cells, and the death penalty, but most commonly (especially in the media and popular discourse) to abortion, and support for fetal rights.
term describes the political, religious, and ethical view which
maintains that fetuses and embryos are human beings, and therefore have a
right to live.
On the issue of abortion, attempts by pro-life campaigners to pass laws against abortion are opposed by pro-choice campaigners who argue that the central issue is a completely different set of rights.
The pro-choice view does not consider a fetus to have full legal rights, so the issue is instead considered to be the human rights of the pregnant woman to choose to terminate her pregnancy or carry it to term. The pro-choice view believes that a woman should have complete control over her fertility and pregnancy, not the government, and that this entails the guarantee of reproductive rights.
Overview on pro-life views
Pro-life individuals generally believe that human life should be valued either from fertilization or implantation until natural death. The contemporary pro-life movement is typically, but not exclusively, associated with Christian morality (especially in the United States), and has influenced certain strains of bioethical utilitarianism.
From that viewpoint, any action which destroys an embryo or fetus kills a human being. Any deliberate destruction of human life is considered ethically or morally wrong and is not considered to be mitigated by any alleged benefits to others, as such benefits come at the expense of the life they consider as a person. In some cases, this belief extends to opposing abortion of fetuses that would almost certainly be unviable, such as anencephalitic fetuses.
and assisted suicide are also opposed by some pro-life people based on a
belief that all human life is sacred and must be protected even against
the wishes of people who want to end their own lives.
Pro-lifers oppose certain forms of birth control, particularly hormonal contraception such as ECP’s, which are alleged to prevent the implantation of an embryo. Because pro-life advocates largely believe that personhood begins at conception, they refer to these forms of birth control with the technically incorrect term “abortifacients”. The Catholic Church recognizes this view, but the possibility that hormonal contraception has post-fertilization effects is currently disputed within the scientific community. (See Also: Emergency contraception and implantation)
Attachment to a pro-life position is very often but not exclusively connected to religious beliefs about the sanctity of life (see also Culture of Life). Exclusively secular-humanist positions against abortion tend to be a minority viewpoint among pro-life advocates.
Diversity of pro-life views
Opposition to abortion by some Christians is based on a number of sources. The Didache, a short early Christian treatise, specifically prohibits abortion. The Bible, unlike the Didache, makes no specific mention of abortion, although it does mention unborn life several times.
For example, Luke 1:44 cites Elizabeth exclaiming to the Virgin Mary, “Behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb (John the Baptist) leaped for joy”. Jeremiah 1:4-5, retelling God’s appointing of Jeremiah to be a prophet, says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you”.
passages have been interpreted to reveal the personhood of an
embryo/fetus. While others interpret these verses to be centrally
focus instead on the special significance of Jeremiah as a prophet and
maintain that they have no relevance to claims that the fetus is a
The Catholic Church teaches that “abortion is a grave sin against the natural law.” It believes that human life is sacred, and begins at conception. Under this view, abortion is equivalent to murder, and there are no permissible exceptions.
When the life of the woman is in jeopardy, it is permissible to obtain life-saving treatment which may have the secondary effect of killing the fetus, but no direct action may be taken against the fetus/embryo itself, and all life-sustaining options must be exhausted. (An example is chemotherapy treatment for a pregnant woman with uterine cancer.)
It also ascribes to a Consistent Life Ethic: euthanasia, the death penalty, unjust war, embryo research, in vitro fertilization (which involves discarded embryos), artificial contraception (of which some methods may prevent implantation of a zygote in the uterine lining), and abortion are all condemned as violence.
law provides that anyone who directly participates in an abortion is
automatically excommunicated (provided they are aware of this penalty at
the time of the act). A valid sacramental confession remits this
penalty. In accord with its opposition to abortion, the Catholic Church
provides support to pregnant women in “crisis pregnancies,” as well as
to low income families.
Other Christian denominations hold varying positions on abortion. Conservative, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian groups are more likely to oppose abortion, whereas liberal or mainstream Protestant churches are more likely to allow for it. “Mainstream” Protestant denominations (e.g. the Episcopalian church, Presbyterian church, Methodist church, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America), as well as Jewish denominations and the group Catholics for a Free Choice have formed the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
The Christian Alliance for Progress, most notably, has come out in opposition of abortion, but has advocated a program of assistance and prevention as opposed to the criminalization of abortion, opposes the death penalty, but maintains a neutral stance on euthanasia.
Types of activism in fighting for unborn children and against abortion
Pro-life activism involves a variety of activities, from promoting the pro-life position to the public in general, lobbying public officials, or reaching individuals – for example by attempting to dissuade individual women to forgo abortions. Some efforts involve distributing literature, providing counseling services, conducting public demonstrations or protests, and committing acts of civil disobedience.
Free ultrasound: One type of pro-life activism is giving free ultrasound scans to pregnant women who are considering an abortion. These usually take place at a crisis pregnancy center. The theory behind this practice is the belief that the pregnant woman will decide to carry to term once she views images of the fetus. In the US, federal funding is provided for crisis pregnancy centers, many of which provide free ultrasounds.
1. The life chain:
The “Life Chain” is a public demonstration technique that involves simply standing in a row on sidewalks holding signs with pro-life messages. Historically, the most often used message has been “Abortion Kills Children” but other signs have been produced for use by Life Chainers that include, “Abortion stops a beating heart,” “Abortion Hurts Women,” “I’m a child, not a choice,” “God Heal Our Land,” “God Bless America,” “Jesus Forgives and Heals,” “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “Jesus Loves You.” Life Chainers, as an official policy, do not yell or chant slogans and do not block pedestrians or roadways. This type of demonstration is extremely common, but some pro-life demonstrators question the effectiveness of this tactic. Many Right to Life chapters hold Life Chain events yearly.
2. The rescue:
A “rescue operation” involves pro-life activists standing in front of an abortion clinic in order to prevent anyone from entering. The stated goal of this practice is to force the clinic to shut down for the day. Often, the protesters are removed by law enforcement. Some clinics were protested so heavily in this fashion that they closed down permanently. “The rescue” was first attempted by Operation Rescue. Ever since former president Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act into law, the rescue has rarely been attempted. Some consider it “peaceful civil disobedience” but others fear that the openly confrontational nature of rescue operations may inflame an already touchy situation to violence.
3. The die-in:
The die-in is a variation of a protest by the same name which was first done to protest the Vietnam War. In the pro-life die-in, protesters fall to the ground in the fetal position. Often this is used to gain attention, in order for groups to distribute literature, and engage in conversation with the onlookers. Those on the ground do not move, hand out literature, or talk. Very few groups use this tactic, however Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust frequently use this method.
4. The truth display:
In a “truth display”, protesters go to an area intending to display pictures of aborted fetuses. Though this sparks anger and controversy, some pro-life groups believe this is the most effective way of explaining their position. The members of one group based out of Riverside, California, known as Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, have been jailed numerous times for these types of displays which they set up both legally and illegally on university campuses. Pro-Life Action League’s Face the Truth displays are another example of a “truth display.”
point of disagreement among pro-lifers is whether displaying shock
pictures is really necessary. Though many believe in the
truthfulness of “truth displays”, many feel that it is sufficient to
display informative images of perfectly healthy fetuses in order to
demonstrate their humanity, not their suffering. Proponents of these
“shock tactics” argue that, unless people realize the precise nature of
abortion methods/procedures and their tangible results, the pro-life
position can never succeed.
5. Sidewalk counseling:
“Sidewalk counseling” is a form of pro-life activism which is conducted outside of abortion clinics. Activists seek to communicate with those entering the building, or with passersby in general, in an effort to persuade them not to have an abortion or to reconsider their position on the morality of abortion.  They do so by trying to engage in conversation, displaying signs, distributing literature, or giving directions to a nearby crisis pregnancy center. 
6. The “Chicago Method”
The “Chicago Method” is an approach to sidewalk counseling that involves giving those about to enter an abortion facility copies of lawsuits filed against the facility or its physicians. The name comes from the fact that it was first used by Pro-Life Action League in Chicago. The intent of the Chicago Method is to turn the woman away from a facility that the protesters deem “unsafe,” thus giving her time to reconsider her choice to abort.
In Christianity prayer is one form of seeking God’s intervention
8. Prayer and Fasting
Prayer and fasting work hand in hand as fasting reinforces the petitions or matters being submitted to God.
9. Christian evangelism and education
Christian evangelism and education helps to inform people about abortion, its potential physical risks, post-traumatic stress risks, and other spiritual and social risks.