Typically the term “pro-life” is applied to people who say they oppose the right to abortion because they belief God creates all life in his image (even when life is still only a collection of cells) and any disruption of that process is equivalent to murder. 

Yet New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says this typical use of “pro-life” is misleading, and distorts the way people think about politics. To Friedman, “respect for life has to include respect for how that life is lived, enhanced and protected — not only at the moment of conception but afterward, in the course of that life.”  

In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.” 

“Pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” That has a nice ring to it.