Recently some environmentalists have portrayed certain of their causes as intrinsic to the pro-life movement. As adherents of the pro-life movement, we reject that portrayal as disingenuous and dangerous to our efforts to protect the lives of unborn children.
The term “pro-life” originated historically in the struggle to end abortion on demand and continues to be used in public discourse overwhelmingly in that sense. To ignore that is at best sloppy communication and at worst intentional deception. “Life” in “pro-life” denotes not quality of life but life itself. The whole term denotes opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies.
In stark contrast, most environmental policies promoted as pro-life address problems that pose little threat to human life itself, and no intent to kill.
In 2011, touting exaggerated numbers and harms, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) claimed, “being pro-life means protecting the unborn from mercury pollution.” But such pollution does not kill. Rather, at worst it causes reduction in neurological development so slight as to be nearly undetectable. EEN made similar claims in 2012 and 2014, and in February 2016 it launched a “Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign,” calling for 100% of America’s electricity to come from “renewable” sources. Regardless of the wisdom or folly of that demand, calling it pro-life is deceptive.
But the ethical differences between abortion and pollution are glaring:
- The intent differs.
- In abortion, the intent is to kill a baby.
- In energy production, the intent is to provide the energy people need to sustain life and health, and the pollution that is a byproduct of energy production is anunintended risk (see Deuteronomy 19:4–12).
- The factual outcomes differ.
- In abortion, the outcome of every “successful abortion” is a dead baby.
- In energy production, the outcome of the energy produced is enhanced human health and life, while the outcome of the pollution byproduct is (compared with the immediate death of babies in abortion) a slight reduction in health—certainly not enough to outweigh the intended outcome.
In its past campaign, EEN thanked politicians with 100% pro-abortion voting records (even some who support partial-birth abortion) for being “sensitive to pro-life concerns” because they supported restrictions on mercury emissions, while rebuking politicians with 100% pro-life voting records because they didn’t.
At the time, over 30 pro-life leaders joined in signing an earlier version of this declaration, pointing out that EEN’s campaign
- obscures the meaning of “pro-life,”
- misidentifies some pro-abortion candidates as pro-life,
- divides the pro-life movement, and
- makes it more difficult to elect truly pro-life candidates to office.
EEN’s new “Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign” will have the same results, and like the earlier campaign it also risks siphoning off activists from the real pro-life movement into a different movement one major aim of which is population control achieved in part by government-run family planning programs that include abortion—sometimes even forced abortion.
This doesn’t mean we should ignore environmental risks. It does mean combating them should not be portrayed as pro-life. Genuinely pro-life people will usually desire to reduce other risks as well—guided by cost/benefit analysis. But to call those issues “pro-life” is to obscure the meaning of the term.
Instead of disguising their desired policies as pro-life, environmental advocates need to make the case for them honestly and above board, by credible analysis of risks and benefits. They should cease claiming the pro-life banner. That is at best badly misinformed, at worst dishonest.
In light of these considerations:
We call on all environmentalists, evangelical or otherwise, to cease portraying their causes as pro-life and join us in working diligently to reduce and end abortion on demand in the United States, which has killed over 54 million babies since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
See initial signers below. Add your name now!
A Call to Protect the Unborn and the Pro-Life Movement from Environmentalist Deceit: A Declaration by Concerned Pro-LifersRead the petition
(Institutional affiliation is for identification only and does not imply institutional endorsement.)
- Dr. Ted Baehr, President, Movieguide, Camarillo, CA
- William D. Balgord, Ph.D. (Geochemistry), President, Environmental & Resources Technology, Inc., Middleton, WI, USA
- E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., Founder and National Spokesman, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, Burke, VA
- David L. Black, Ph.D., Founder, Chairman and CEO, Aegis Sciences Corporation, Nashville, TN
- Ryan Bomberger, Chief Creative Officer, The Radiance Foundation, Ashburn, VA
- Kenneth W. Chilton, Ph.D., Environmental Policy Expert, Senior Fellow, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, St. Louis, MO
- Charles Clough, Adjunct Professor, Chafer Theological Seminary, Albuquerque, NM, and Retired Chief, US Army Atmospheric Effects Team, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD
- Christopher Cone, Th.D., Ph.D., Ph.D., President-Elect, Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO
- Pastor Brad Congdon, Manning Bible Church, Manning, OR
- Mark Coppenger, Ph.D., Professor of Christian Apologetics, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
- Reginald E. Ecarma, Ph.D., Chairman & Professor, Department of Communications, Media, & Culture, Bryan College, Dayton, TN
- Neil Frank, Ph.D., Former Director, National Hurricane Center, Fulshear, TX
- Alan W. Gomes, Ph.D., Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Talbot School of Theology (Biola University), La Mirada, CA
- George Grant, Ph.D., D.Hum., D.Litt., Pastor, Parish Presbyterian Church, and Director, King’s Meadow Study Center, Franklin, TN
- Michael Hart, Professor Emeritus, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Rev. Robert S. Hayes, PCA Pastor, US Director, Africa Christian Training Institute, Panama City, FL
- Thomas Hennigan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Organism Biology, Chair- Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Truett-McConnell College, Cleveland, GA
- William J. Hintze (Willie), MME, Premarital Counselor, Chandler, Arizona
- Dr. Peter Jones, Executive Director, truthXchange, Escondido, CA
- Dr. Edward C. Krug, Soil and Water Chemist (Ret.), Urbana, Illinois
- David R. Legates, Ph.D., Professor of Geography and Climatology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
- Gail Levin, Affiliate Director, The Salt & Light Council, Solana Beach, CA
- Rev. David H. Linden, University Presbyterian Church, Las Cruces, NM
- Israel Martinez, Worship and Discipleship Pastor, Sherwood Baptist Church, Odessa TX
- Tracy C. Miller, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics, Grove City College, Grove City, PA
- Dr. Marcus A. Mininger, Dyer, IN
- Rev. John Moore, Minister of Music and Pastoral Care, First Presbyterian Church, Coral Springs, FL
- Dr. Terry Mortenson, Answers in Genesis, Creation Museum & Ark Encounter, Petersburg, KY
- Ishwaran Mudliar, Ph.D., Teaching Pastor, Morning Star Baptist Church, Meeker, OK
- Pastor Mark Musser, Grace Redeemer Bible Church, Olympia, Washington, USA
- Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., Senior Producer/Host, D. James Kennedy Ministries/Television, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- C. Preston Noell III, President, Tradition, Family, Property, Inc., McLean, VA
- Jerry F. O’Neill, President, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
- Franklin E. (Ed) Payne, M.D., Associate Professor (retired), Augusta University – Health Sciences; Founder and Editor, Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine; Augusta, GA
- Thomas Purifoy, Jr., Producer, Compass Cinema, Nashville, TN
- Michael Riegel, Executive Director, Chafer Theological Seminary, Albuquerque, NM
- Jeffrey Riley, Ph.D., Professor of Ethics, Chairman, Division of Theological and Historical Studies, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, LA
- Dr. Chad Rodekohr, Associate Professor of Physics, Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC
- Rev. Corey Schmatjen, Pastor, Palm Vista Community Church, Miami Lakes, FL
- Dr. Thomas P. Sheahen, Director, Institute for Theological Encounter with Science & Technology, Deer Park, MD
- David E. Shormann, PhD, President, DIVE, LLC,
- Scott Spages, Reston, VA
- Andy Stacy, Grace Redeemer Bible Church, Olympia, WA
- Steve Stanley, Ph.D., Pastor, Scholls Community Church, Hillsboro, OR
- Dr. Kenneth Talbot, President, Whitefield Theological Seminary and College, Lakeland, FL
- Megan Toombs, Communications & Outreach Coordinator, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, Burke, VA
- Reverend Thomas Trouwborst, Pastor, Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Schenectady, NY
- Kurt Van Gorden, Director, Jude 3 Missions, Victorville, CA
- Rev. Stephen M. Vantassel, Ph.D., Tutor, King’s Evangelical Divinity School, Broadstairs, Kent, UK
- L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr., President, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc., Wonder Lake, IL
- James K. Walker, President, Watchman Fellowship, Inc., Arlington, TX