What is the Consistent Life Ethic?
Life and Peace
The Consistent Life Ethic is an extension of pro-life ideas. Those who support the consistent life ethic believe that not only abortion but also capital punishment, war, and euthanasia are violations of the sanctity of human life. They also look at problems like poverty and racism as pro-life issues. Because of this, they often find it difficult to wholeheartedly support either of the major parties in American politics.
Note: I recognize that there are many wonderful people who may disagree with some or all of these opinions. My goal is to describe these beliefs without insulting anyone else's point of view.
Even though Consistent Life Ethic supporters are often called "pro-life liberals" (personally, I do use that label), it is completely possible for someone to have conservative views about things like economics, education, church-state issues, et. al., and still agree with the life & death principles of the Consistent Life Ethic. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, for example, is a conservative libertarian who opposed both abortion and the Iraq War.
From the womb to the tomb
It doesn't seem weird to us
When people hear me call myself a pro-life liberal, sometimes it seems like a really strange concept to them. The dominant image of liberalism includes support for abortion rights as a given. But to those of our persuasion, supporting life across the board makes perfect sense.
As Pope John Paul II said, we have increasingly become a society where death is seen as the solution to problems. Unplanned pregnancy, international disputes, crime, chronic disease. Whatever the problem is, the Consistent Life Ethic asserts that we should approach it in a way that doesn't involve ending human life.
There have been many prominent "liberal" voices (including war resisters, humanitarian advocates, and pioneering feminists) who have also been opposed to abortion.
Does that mean you're a pacifist?
There are some people who support the Consistent Life Ethic who are pacifists, but there are others who believe that war can be an option, but in very limited cases. For example when another country has attacked yours or clearly stated that they are going to attack yours, this would be seen as using war as a way to prevent the imminent death of others, so it would be similar to attacking a person who is trying to kill you or terminating a pregnancy in the case of an ectopic or some other condition that is threatening the life of the mother. In these cases, violence is possibly the only way to resolve an immediate threat of death.
This conditional support of war would not extend to making a strike at a country just because they have the ability to attack us, even though they haven't said that they intend to attack. To us, that would be like killing a person just because you know they own a gun and they've said that they don't like you, or terminating a normal healthy pregnancy because statistics show that some pregnancies can physically endanger the mother sometimes. None of those scenarios would be supported under the Consistent Life Ethic.
What's poverty got to do with it?
Is poverty a pro-life issue?
Real poverty results in people dying from starvation and from preventable diseases. That is a threat to the principle of valuing all human life.
I believe that supporting the Consistent Life Ethic means that one agrees that issues like poverty and starvation are pro-life concerns. I don't think that all CLE supporters have to agree about what the solutions to those problems should be.
Here's an article I wrote:
And racism, too?
I was puzzled when I first saw racism mentioned in the mission statement of Consistent Life. I haven't heard anyone else's explanation of why racism is included, so I can only express my own theory.
Underlying the concept of racism is the belief that some people are better than other people. That would translate into an idea of valuing one life more highly than another, which is indeed a violation of pro-life principles. So I can understand why opposing racism would be included in the Consistent Life Ethic, even though it might appear to be a stretch.
Find out more
The Consistent Life Ethic on the web
- Consistent Life
Mission: We are committed to the protection of life, which is threatened in today's world by war, abortion, poverty, racism, capital punishment and euthanasia. We believe that these issues are linked under a 'consistent ethic of life'. We challenge t
- The Consistent Life Ethic net ring
Kelly Jefferson: "I established this net ring as a comfortable gathering place for web sites, whether organizational or personal, that are concerned with a consistent ethic of respect for all life. The consistent ethic philosophy encompasses several
- Joe Schriner for President
Joe Schriner ran for President of the United States in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012.
- Pro-Lifers for Peace and Justice
This site is for pro-life liberals/progressives to unite and let the world know we exist! Don't worry! You're not the only one who is both pro-life and anti-war! Let's build a community of friends who believe in peace, justice, protecting the earth,
- I Am Whole Life
An organization dedicated to fostering a respect for human dignity.
- Mr. Abolitionist on YouTube
A pro-life, pro-peace YouTube channel.
Heard of it?
Have you heard of the consistent life ethic before?
Tell us where you stand.
What are your views on abortion, capital punishment, and war?
An alternative to the Republocrats?
Would it be a good thing if the United States had another political party that was anti-abortion, anti-war, and anti-death penalty?
Keep in mind that this site is not intended to be a debate forum (there are numerous sites on the internet where all of these issues can be debated). I encourage you to express your agreement or disagreement by taking the polls.
If you have specific thoughts about the manner in which these principles have been presented on this site, I welcome your feedback.