Millennials organize to advance consistent life ethic

A version of this story appeared in the July 29-Aug 11, 2016 print issue under the headline: Millennials organize to advance consistent life ethic.

by Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans


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They're Catholics, Protestants and secularists, veterans of pro-life and anti-poverty groups, with roots in different political parties. While some members live near the Life Matters Journal "home base" in Pittsburgh, others are part of a digital network that spans the country.

But each 20-something member of the Life Matters team interviewed for this story has something in common: a moment they can pinpoint in which their perspective changed, leading them to embrace an ethical outlook that spans the period between conception and death -- and poses an implicit challenge to both of the main political parties.

While the consistent life ethic -- as it was characterized by Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in the 1980s -- is not new, the men and women engaged in this millennial-sourced movement are purposefully building bridges across chasms that once would have divided them: politics, religion and the constraints of geography itself. Their work is directed at ridding the world of euthanasia, abortion, war and other instruments of what they term "aggressive violence."

Though it owes a historical and philosophical debt to the Roman Catholic church -- and many staff members are Catholic -- Life Matters Journal (its magazine is published eight times a year) characterizes itself as a nonsectarian, nonpartisan human rights organization committed to promoting conversation and providing opportunities for education.

For executive director Aimee Murphy, her illuminating moment came during a fraught conversation prompted by a pregnancy scare that she had in high school with her then-boyfriend, a young man she characterizes as abusive and emotionally manipulative. If his parents found out they were expecting, he told her, he might kill her and then himself.

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