Nothing New About Pope Francis’ Whole Life Approach

In Evangelli Gaudium and his other remarks on abortion, Pope Francis has embraced a whole life approach to the issue, linking it to other threats to human life and dignity. He sees it as a social justice issue that is deeply and gravely important, but not one that should drown out every other issue.

Even before he became the pope, Francis addressed the issue of abortion in this way. In 2010, in El Jesuita: Conversaciones con Jorge Bergoglio, he displayed a commitment to a comprehensive approach to abortion that would address the issue in its full complexity. He also tied it to other social justice issues, showing his whole life commitment to the defense of all life. He stated:

I consider (abortion) to be part of the battle in favor of life from the moment of conception until a dignified, natural death. This includes care of the mother during pregnancy, the existence of laws to protect the mother postpartum, and the need to ensure that children receive enough food, as well as providing health care throughout the whole length of a life, taking good care of our grandparents, and not resorting to euthanasia. Nor should we perpetuate a kind of killing through insufficient food or a nonexistent or deficient education, which are ways of depriving a person of a full life. If there is a conception for us to respect, there is a life for us to care for.

Francis sees the issue as both a social justice and human rights issue. Opposition to abortion should be based on consistently resisting a throwaway culture that dehumanizes and depersonalizes others. It is not simply a religious issue, but one that everyone who opposes the dehumanization of others should care about. And in 2010, he explained that science is on the side of those who defend the dignity and worth of each unborn child:

Science has taught us that from the moment of conception, the new being has its entire genetic code. It’s impressive. Therefore, it’s not a religious issue but, rather, a clear moral issue with a scientific basis, because we are in the presence of a human being.