I have always been pro-life. I remember first articulating this position writing essays in my high school English class. No one ever told me to be pro-life; I was never told abortion was wrong. It seemed obvious. However, the deeper I dove into the discourse, the more I found abortion was a complex topic.

I discovered there exists an entire group of people who not only consider abortion a morally just action but also claim it to be a fundamental human right. When listening to these viewpoints, I was at first shocked and angry at how someone could miss the obvious: abortion is murder. However, as I spoke with more abortion advocates, I discovered, as the saying goes, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

See, it became evident abortion advocates were more concerned with the well-being of the mother than the life of a preborn child. They were willing to do great intellectual gymnastics to justify the murder of another human being just to improve less important things like the financial stability of the mother. It is not my intention to trivialize the well-being of the mother. In fact, abortion advocates are quite justified in their concerns. Furthermore, I took many of their criticisms of the pro-life side to heart. When they spoke about pro-life advocates, they accused us of just being pro-birth, saying we did not care about what happened to the child or the mother once the baby was born. There are definitely ways in which the pro-life movement can be better.

When I decided to become more active in the pro-life movement, my initial goal was to meet these criticisms and to show those who opposed us we are not merely a pro-birth party. I thought I was an enlightened individual, yet I was surprised to discover most of my fellow activists agreed with me. In my conversations, I learned most pro-lifers are pro-life in every sense: they care for  the born as much as the preborn, they call for adoption and foster care reform, and they are extremely supportive, in spirit and “in deed,” of both expecting mothers and mothers after their babies are born. I heard story after story of financial and material support provided to mothers by caring pro-life advocates. I was amazed to learn we are not only a pro-birth party, but a movement which seeks to create a whole culture of life.

Now, these developments left me scratching my head. How are such good people being mischaracterized so badly by abortion advocates? A cynical approach would say opponents of the pro-life movement will always malign us because it advances their agenda. We could also blame the media, saying they unfairly cast pro-life people in a negative light. We could say it is hopeless to try to convince abortion advocates of our humanity as they are too closed-minded, too far gone. However, whether or not these statements are true, they ignore a key reality: we have agency. I seek not to blame others for the negative (and oftentimes inaccurate) perspective they have of pro-life advocates. I would rather encourage introspection.

So, what can we do to fix this problem? Obviously, we can talk to our countrymen across the aisle. We can show them our humanity and our heart for all life, not just the preborn. When they pull out the “pro-birth only” criticism, show them how it is simply not true. Talk about the charitable works pro-lifers do. Meet their criticisms with love and with the knowledge pro-lifers do want to see improvements to life after birth; we want to see adoption made easier and the foster care system reformed. These discussions are all necessary to improve our image one mind at a time.

On the other hand, I do not think it is enough. I have a better solution: it is time for pro-lifers to demand more. What do I mean by this? I mean that pro-life advocates must demand more than simply anti-abortion policies from our elected representatives. Look at the policies being enacted by pro-life politicians. Furthermore, look at how we pick our preferred candidates. Too often, we decide our vote only based upon who is the most against abortion. Instead, we should vote for who, overall, is the most dedicated to creating a pro-life culture.

In short, we must never compromise on abortion; it is the greatest sin of our nation. Yet we must also demand more from our leaders. Tell them it is no longer enough to be against abortion. To secure our vote, they must promise to make real improvements to foster care and adoption. They must propose legislation which, instead of funding abortions through Planned Parenthood, funds prenatal care for at-risk mothers. We need our elected representatives to enact changes which not only outlaw abortion but also make it unnecessary. We must require laws which not only eliminate the need for abortions but also make birth and child-rearing as easy as possible. We do not only want an abortion-free world; we want a culture which celebrates life for the beautiful thing it is.

This November, do not merely vote for someone who is against abortion, vote for someone who is pro-life. This November is the time for pro-lifers to demand more.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.