Consistent life ethic

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Not to be confused with the batshit insane pro-life movement.

The consistent life ethic is a currently small movement of people who maintain that in order to be truly pro-life, one must be pro-life across the board and also oppose war, euthanasia, and capital punishment, in addition to being pro-life about abortion. describes their purpose as follows:

We serve the anti-violence community by connecting issues, building bridges, and strengthening the case against each kind of socially-approved killing by consistently opposing them all.

This position is found among some Roman Catholics, Christian pacifists, and the "evangelical left".

Further definition[edit]

This philosophy might be more correctly called the "consistent human life ethic", as it's unlikely that many of those who subscribe to it are vegetarian, vegan, or against the consumption of plants or eradication of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. While this is really just pedantry over the definition of life, the movement is a reaction to the inconsistency of many pro-life advocates — and so it's best to get such "inconsistencies" of this group dealt with early on.

Inconsistencies of many Christian positions[edit]

Christianity is full of people whose priorities are so far out of whack they are pro-life for fetuses only, but not necessarily for anyone else.

Despite being something that should put every war-cheerleading, tough on crime evangelical on the spot, it doesn't seem to have had much effect on the broader evangelical movement, who are perfectly fine with putting 15-year-olds in the electric chair and with dropping napalm on babies even as they make ending abortion out to be the most pressing issue of our time. Followers of the consistent life ethic doctrine tend to vote for the Democratic Party, though they oppose the party's pro-choice stance.

Republican pro-life Americans generally resist pressure to introduce Universal Health Care, which can prevent unwanted miscarriages, reduce the death rate among babies after they are born, and reduce the death rate at ages among those who do not want euthanasia and want to live. It also can reduce the abortion rate (which is often lower in countries with public health care), since women have less financial concerns regarding health which may make them choose to have an abortion in the US.

Inconsistency in the Catholic Church position[edit]

The consistent life ethic more or less resembles the official position of the Catholic Church, but Catholics are permitted to disagree on issues other than euthanasia and abortion, which Roman Catholicism is dogmatically opposed to. In 1995, Pope John Paul II argued in favor of a consistent life ethic "from conception until natural death".[2] In 2004, then-cardinal Ratzinger[note 1] penned a memorandum that was mostly supportive of the consistent life ethic, although it claimed that not all issues were the same, and while it was considered desirable to oppose war and capital punishment, abortion and euthanasia were far more serious issues about which no heterodoxy could be permitted.[3]

The consistent life ethic is supported by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops[4] and the group Priests for Life.[note 2] In 2012, after the Catholic Church butted heads with the Obama administration over contraceptives, Catholic bishops protested against the budget proposed by United States Republicans because of its cuts to social welfare programs.[5]

Among some Catholics, the consistent life ethic is also known as the "seamless garment" position, a term coined by the late Chicago Archbishop Joseph Bernardin.

Needless to say, however, some right-wing Catholics who are pro-life share the same viewpoints of their Evangelical equivalents.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Ratzinger was later Pope Benedict XVI
  2. Although primarily anti-abortion, Priests for Life states "our concern for life must be consistent".[1]