In the days following the Nov. 3 General Election, NPR spent time talking with voters about their presidential choice and reasons behind their choice.

One specific caller’s response was of particular interest to me. An admittedly white, Christian woman from the Midwest, the caller indicated her choice for president was driven, first and foremost, by her “pro-life” convictions and the need to protect the unborn. She repeatedly mentioned her belief in the “sanctity of life.”

I must confess that I really struggle with the profound consequences of a moral narrative such as this that focuses only on “the sanctity of birth” and chooses to ignore other facets of “life.” For example:

What about the lives of the more than 250,000 people who die in the U.S. every year from poverty and related issues? Or those who lack nutritious food or adequate health insurance?

  • What about the lives of those affected by years of discrimination in housing and quality education? The homeless?
  • What about the lives of teenagers who are tried as adults and sentenced to prison, some for life? Or those whose lives are swallowed up by a criminal justice system?
  • What about those whose lives are affected by the environmental effects of decisions driven by greed and profit?

If we truly believe in the “sanctity of life,” we should feel a responsibility to embrace the sanctity of all lives — from birth to death. Whether through our vote or just in the ways we live our lives, we should not be content to accept those things that detrimentally impact and even destroy lives.

Personally, I don’t want to choose which part of life is most worthy of sanctity.

Linda Smith is a Columbia resident and longtime voter.

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