Driving downtown on a Saturday morning after a late Friday night, I came across a half dozen abortion protesters on the corner of Cannon Street and Rutledge Avenue. After passing a number of cars featuring both pro-life and McCain-Palin bumper stickers, I finally did what I had thought about doing on similar occasions — I pulled over, grabbed my notepad, and began asking questions.

For 45 minutes, a trio who shall be referred to simply as Keith, Ted, and Laura, indulged a scraggly-looking, just-rolled-out-of-bed Jack Hunter. I was immediately impressed by not only their authentic passion but their peaceful manner. I assured them that their primary message, that the sanctity of human life should take precedent over politics, was one for which I felt much sympathy.

Talking to them led me to a question that has bugged me for years.

According to the United Nations, over a half million children died in Iraq in the 1990s as a direct result of U.S. sanctions — not soldiers, not combatants, but innocent children. A decade later, the number of civilian who have died following the U.S. invasion of Iraq ranges anywhere from over 100,000 to half a million, depending on the study. Or put another way, more Iraqi civilians died during the U.S. occupation than under Saddam Hussein.

The policies that led to these deaths not only had the full support of politicians like Sen. John McCain, but the Arizona senator had intended to base his entire presidential campaign on his determination to expand and pursue these policies further, even criticizing President Barack Obama’s alleged reluctance to do the same.

Laura said that no one is ever comfortable with the deaths caused by war, but, unfortunately, they were inevitable. There is such thing as a just war, Laura added.

I agree. And so does the Catholic Church, which opposed the Iraq war. According to the Church, the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war is far outside of the parameters of a “just war.” The Catholic Church also condemned the U.S. sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s — in no small part due to their concern for the sanctity of human life.

Ted explained that part of the reason the U.S. had to fight in Iraq was that the acquisition of oil was necessary to keep America strong at home and abroad, so that our military could help save even more lives around the world. If innocent lives were lost in the process, that was an unfortunate necessity. Kill now to save later. Keith made a similar argument.

I have always found it bizarre that my liberal friends, whose vegetarianism, animal rights activism, or environmentalism is founded on their concern for the lives of animals and the health of the earth, can rarely concede that pro-lifers at least have a point about the sanctity of human life. If whales and trees have an intrinsic value worth protecting, why not at least consider the same arguments for unborn human beings? The heated politics of being “pro-choice” has always overshadowed this blatant hypocrisy and has made rational debate next to impossible.

I have also always found it bizarre that some of the most pro-war Americans are pro-lifers. To be passionate enough to protest on a street corner in the hopes that you might save lives is something I can understand. Yet for pro-lifers to consistently and enthusiastically vote for leaders whose foreign policies will admittedly lead to the deaths of thousands of civilians — women, children, babies — in order to achieve political objectives is something I cannot understand. “It’s a Child Not a Choice”? How about “It’s a Kid Not Collateral Damage”?

The pro-lifers I met that day all agreed that when it comes to supporting the Iraq war, the ends justify the deadly means, and yet they dedicate their lives to convincing pregnant women that no matter how desperate their situation, deadly solutions are never acceptable. According to some pro-lifers, political objectives can be worth thousands of deaths, while individual objectives are never worth one.

Civilian casualties are an unfortunate reality in any battle, and the Christian theory of a “just war” is intended to help determine which wars are moral and which are not. Christians are supposed to at least question the wars they fight, and yet today, many in the U.S. simply use the term to justify every war America fights without question, shamelessly calling themselves pro-life to boot.

It remains hard for me to take seriously those whose concern for the unborn consumes every thought, yet consider the human cost of war a mere afterthought and for whom life is only sacred when it’s politically convenient.

Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the “Morning Buzz with Richard Todd” on 1250 AM WTMA.

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