Pro-Lifers Offer Plan for Building A 'Culture of Life'

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

Washington ( - Pro-lifers Wednesday directly responded to President Bush's call to "build a culture of life," by releasing a statement that outlines both political and cultural goals to create a society that respects life from the cradle to the grave.

"Building a Culture of Life, A Call to Respect Human Dignity in American Life," published by the Family Research Council, warns that the United States currently finds itself in a dangerous climate, one where society respects life less and less.

"No civilization can survive if it treats human life as a merely instrumental good and the deaths of innocents as a legitimate objective," the statement says. "Yet, America is dangerously close to forgetting that human life-all human life-is a gift to be treasured."

The statement outlines three goals: reducing the incidence of abortion by 50 percent by 2005; extending care and legal protection to the weak and the vulnerable; and preventing the degradation of human dignity through life-threatening or life-destroying experimentation.

Bill Saunders, senior fellow for human life studies at the Family Research Council, lauded the statement, calling it "not only a political statement...but also a cultural one."

In each of the statement's three sections, topics such as embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, abortion, and care of the elderly are accompanied by specific goals.

For example, in the section on scientific research, the statement calls for legislation that will harness stem cell research, and a university community that shuns such research.

Dr. Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor and a member of President Bush's bioethics advisory council, addressed the issue of embryonic stem cell research and human cloning.

George warned that if the current trend toward allowing uninhibited research into both stem cell research and cloning continues, those developments could "lead our culture down the road, or further down the road [making life itself a commodity.]"

However, George noted that just because the pro-life movement opposes the use of live embryos in stem cell research, there is no reason that pro-lifers cannot support stem cell research derived from other sources, such as umbilical cords.

"Our pro-life stance enables us to support ethical stem-cell research," he said.

"Building a Culture of Life" also calls for increased restrictions on abortion, and more support for crisis pregnancy centers and adoption agencies.

Mary Cunningham Agee, founder and executive director of the Nurturing Network for women looking for abortion alternatives, spoke to the hardships -- both physical and emotion -- that women experience after having an abortion.

"If we expose these facts of [the effects of abortion], we have a tremendous opportunity to make inroads to not only reaching our goal of reducing the number of abortions by 50 percent by 2005, but ultimately eliminate it altogether," she said.

The statement also calls for initiatives to ensure that the elderly are treated with dignity. Those initiatives include tax breaks for families who take elderly relatives into their homes, and more volunteerism at hospices and nursing homes.

Kenneth Connor, president of the Family Research Council, called the current state of elderly care "America's dirty secret."

"There is no class of people more vulnerable, except for the unborn, than the elderly," he said.

Connie Marshner, president of the American Catholic Council, said the disregard for life stems from the selfish nature of society.

She added that for America to achieve a "culture of life" status, "we need to move from being a culture of self gratification to one of self giving."