Is Mercury Pollution's Effect on Newborns a Pro-Life Issue?
The Evangelical Environmental Network recently spent $150,000 on TV and radio ads and billboards promoting new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mercury pollution regulations as a pro-life issue because of mercury's effect on neonatal health. Leaders connected to the Cornwall Alliance called the campaign's portrayal "disingenuous and dangerous." Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Focus on the Family employees and others signed a joint statement rejecting the issue as a pro-life one. "The life in pro-life denotes not quality of life but life itself. The term denotes opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies," the statement said. Observers spoke with Christianity Today about whether the issue should be seen as a pro-life concern.
"When it affects one in six children, reduces IQs, and increases heart disease, it's a pro-life issue. Being pro-life means protecting life at every stage. We have to be consistent in our theology. Jesus calls us to care for the unborn. Abortion is critical; so is this."
Mitch Hescox, president, Evangelical Environmental Network
"The sanctity of human life is at issue in many areas. Some people make abortion the overriding issue. We need biblical balance. If being concerned about all the things God cares about 'waters down' a pro-life stand, that's God's fault and God's problem."
Ron Sider, president, Evangelicals for Social Action
"Being pro-life means more than just opposition to killing the unborn. It also means opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide, support for the handicapped, and affirmation of the elderly and infirm. And yes, it may also mean protecting babies from hazards."
Dennis Sullivan, director, Cedarville University Center for Bioethics
"Being consistently pro-life requires more than opposition to abortion. However, politicians who favor abortion-on-demand cannot claim the pro-life mantle regardless of how many other pro-life policies they support."
Galen Carey, vice president, National Association of Evangelicals
"The 'life' in 'pro-life' denotes not quality of life but life itself in historical usage. Mercury emissions do not kill. Calling this a 'pro-life' issue obscures the term's meaning, though pro-life people will want to reduce risks without increasing other risks more."
E. Calvin Beisner, spokesman, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation
"Once you start to expand the term 'pro-life' very far beyond abortion and euthanasia, it dilutes the issue beyond the point of real meaning. Using the label 'pro-life' on other political issues comes across as a way to potentially divide and diffuse pro-life votes."
Mark Tooley, president, The Institute for Religion and Democracy
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