When my sister was pregnant with her first child back in 1976, we teased her with the movie It’s Alive! in which a mutant baby with claws and fangs kills the entire medical team that helps deliver it within moments of its birth.
My sister and I didn’t realize at the time that we were the killer offspring. My best friends were killer offspring. My Sunday School teachers were killer offspring. My Mormon bishop, who worked for an oil company, was a major killer offspring.
For a nation that seems to be increasingly pro-life, we seem to have no problem aborting the offspring of virtually every other life form.
The majority of Americans are urban dwellers or, at their most rural, suburbanites. We visit parks or grow a few flowers in our front yard, maybe a vegetable or two in a window box, but for the most part, we’ve lost our connection to nature: continually pregnant with new life—spring buds, fruiting blackberry bushes, robins laying eggs, cows calving, corn ready to harvest for eating or for gathering seeds for the next generation.
But so many Americans who are adamantly pro-life when it comes to human fetuses are fine with aborting the life Mother Nature attempts to bring into the world. We clear cut old growth forests to establish palm oil plantations to flavor our chips. We block salmon breeding grounds with dams. We hunt whales to extinction. We blithely continue using pesticides we know kill bees. Once those bees are gone, hundreds of plant species that depend on them will join their fate within a single pollinating season. And when those plants go, so do the essential foods human rely on to fill our plates…and bellies.
When we hear about a teenage girl abandoning her newborn in a dumpster, we’re ready to burn her at the stake. If the death of that baby qualifies as infanticide rather than abortion, the problem is that many pro-life activists conflate the two all the time. Pro-life lawmakers force women to hold burials for miscarried fetuses. Abortion is compared to the Holocaust. Over 60 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. since Roe vs. Wade. That makes pro-choice voters worse than Nazis.
Do the lives of the 250,000 birds, the loss of billions of salmon and herring eggs, and the countless other animals killed when the Valdez left 1300 miles of coastline covered in oil count?
The direct human death toll from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Deepwater Horizon spill, and dozens of others can’t possibly compare to death camp totals. But do the lives of the 250,000 birds, the loss of billions of salmon and herring eggs, and the countless other animals killed when the Valdez left 1300 miles of coastline covered in oil count? Do the lives of the one million birds and hundreds of thousands of other animals killed by the BP oil spill count? Does the incalculable number of lives lost in the 1000+ other oil spills in the U.S. count? Those killed in oil spills around the rest of the globe?
An oil train derailed in Lac-Mégantic in the province of Quebec, Canada, burning half the downtown and leaving 47 people dead. All but three of the surviving downtown buildings had to be demolished because of petroleum contamination. Over 1200 people were killed by a series of pipeline explosions in Nigeria. I hope the thousands of coal miners killed in dozens and dozens of mine disasters count for something, too.
We’re horrified by the ethical implications of using stem cells harvested from aborted fetuses to develop cures for diseases that affect the rest of us. We’re conflicted when parents choose to bring another child into the world for the primary purpose of providing a bone marrow transplant for their already-born daughter.
But are we concerned about the ethics of fracking? Over 250 billion gallons of water have been permanently contaminated in the U.S., and the number increases by 25 million more gallons every day.
Is that the action of a pro-life lawmaker? A pro-life political party? A pro-life nation?
Leading pro-life activists are so concerned about the accidental loss of a fetus that an Alabama woman whose pregnancy was terminated by the five bullets an attacker fired at her faces years in prison for precipitating an “abortion” by starting the argument that led to the shooting.
Will there be any jail time for the fossil fuel CEOs and shareholders who have created a climate where wildfires tear through California towns and Greek villages and Israeli forests, killing hundreds?
Will there be manslaughter charges for the ship captains and train engineers and truck drivers who transport the oil and gas and coal killing both humans and members of countless other species in ferocious storms, devastating droughts, and cataclysmic floods?
Who goes to prison for widespread crop losses?
Who goes to prison for rising sea levels that cause billions in property damage and lead to higher death tolls from more frequent storm surges?
Pro-life voters are horrified by forced abortions in China and North Korea and the sterilization of nonconsenting women in the U.S. over many decades, while with a religious zeal we accept the forced destruction of our planet and most of the life on it, witnessing first-hand the 6th mass extinction event in planetary history.
Pro-life activists say they don’t approve of radicals who have shot abortion clinic nurses, murdered abortion doctors in their churches, bombed abortion clinics. But their rhetoric insists that every avenue for stopping the slaughter of innocents must be pursued.
Will those of us who accept the reality of scientific findings be forced to target fossil fuel workers or CEOs or shareholders? Will we be forced to bomb oil tankers and storage facilities and wells?
If we do, can we claim self-defense? Those killing doctors insist they’re saving the unborn. But if a pro-life activist can worry about a bean-sized clump of cells, why can’t we worry about the billions of humans already here? Why can’t we worry about the hundreds of trillions of other living beings?
Why can’t we worry about the life that bean-sized clump of cells will face once forced into the world?
We’re defending not only the unborn of all species but defending ourselves as well. We’re the ones who die when the air quality in our major cities hits critical levels during weeks of wildfires. We’re the ones who die in those wildfires, and in historic floods, and in ever-worsening heat waves. Over one hundred and ten thousand died in Europe and western Russia during the 2003 and 2010 heat waves.
And summer had barely begun.
CEOs of fossil fuel corporations aren’t abortion “providers.” They are abortion enforcers.
If pro-life activists are so concerned about the abortion of human fetuses that they’ll back people like Donald Trump, how concerned are we about the crisis of climate abortion?
If those on the right are conflicted by the terrorist actions of their colleagues against abortion providers, those on the left who are even more pro-life are still more horrified. So what’s someone who wants to stop the abortions forced on Mother Nature to do?
We must at the very least take action on a social and financial level. If churches can excommunicate members of their congregation who perform abortions, we can shun every oil field roughneck, every pipeline worker, every lawmaker who bans protests against fossil fuel companies, every fossil fuel secretary and salesperson, every fossil fuel CEO and shareholder.
We must petition our banks to stop funding pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure. We must change institutions if they won’t.
We must demand our cities and universities divest from fossil fuels.
We can join climate strikes like the one scheduled for September 20.
If we are truly pro-life, if we want to remain a species Mother Earth won’t want to abort, we must become the offspring that doesn’t kill the moment we come out of the womb. Or the sequel to It’s Alive! will be We’re All Goners!