The “Pro-Life Pledge” is something that took shape early on, when we were talking about what kind of thing we wanted to do as a pro-life group. The pledge, which is in the ‘About Us’ section of our website, serves a couple of important functions for the Minimise Project. Here it is in full:
We pledge to treat everyone we encounter with respect and to promote respectful and open debate.
We pledge to reject racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and religious bigotry, and all unjust discrimination.
We pledge to make the pro-life movement a welcoming place for all, including those of any religion or none.
We pledge to debate honestly and in good faith; we will support our arguments with evidence and correct ourselves if we are shown to be wrong.
We pledge to engage with those experiencing unplanned or unwanted pregnancies with respect and compassion. Looking down on anyone for being in this situation is unacceptable.
We pledge to treat women who have had abortions with respect and compassion, listen to their stories and acknowledge their experiences.
We wanted to make a clear statement about our values and to set a standard and abide by it.
Our central conviction is that all human beings have an inherent value and dignity, are worthy of respect, and deserve to live free from violence. That’s why we care about reducing the number of abortions. It’s also why our work towards that goal has to be done a certain way. The people who disagree with us are human beings we respect. So we don’t want to engage in name-calling, or dishonest argumentation. We want to have genuine conversations, so we can understand where people are coming from. One of our two key goals is to have better conversations about abortion. If we want to have good conversations, publicly committing to this standard is a way of showing those who engage with us we’re serious about figuring out the truth – not just hammering them with generic talking points.
Many pro-choice people think the pro-life side is made up of people who are prejudiced against others. We know that this is a small minority of the pro-life movement. But anyone who is involved in any sort of activist movement will know that the fringe, unpleasant voices can shout the loudest (especially on social media). So it’s important to us that we specifically state that we reject racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, sectarianism, or basically any other approach that fails to acknowledge that each and every human being deserves to be treated with respect and as an individual in their own right.
For similar reasons, we also wanted to specifically let people know that we will always respond to women who have an unplanned pregnancy with respect and compassion. Looking down on women who are in this situation is cruel, pointless, and does nothing to help the woman or her baby – thus, it’s the antithesis of what we want to do.
The Pro-Life Pledge is both for us and for others. We at the Minimise Project can return to the pledge if we’re not sure about whether we should do something or what we expect from our members in a certain situation. And if people want to know what we are about or what they can expect from us, they have a clear statement to consult.
It’s important to note that we’re not setting out this pledge because our members would otherwise be saying horrible things to people on social media, or something like that. But just saying “ok, we’re not going to do anything that’s bad” is not sufficient for a developing organisation. Right now, we’re a small group that all know and trust each other. But as we grow and get new people involved, it’s good to have a clear and specific statement of our values and the conduct we want to uphold. Or, if someone has come across a self-declared pro-lifer on Twitter shaming a woman for having an unplanned pregnancy, or has been told that all pro-lifers are misogynistic, or racist, or otherwise bad – we want to talk to that person and show them that that isn’t the case. The Pledge is a quick, straightforward and simple way to start that conversation.