Senate Candidate: Why I'm a Pro-Life Agnostic
Written by Austin Petersen |
Recently, I’ve received some scrutiny of my personal religious beliefs. Although I’m not one to talk about faith at any length, I welcome the opportunity to clarify just exactly what I do — and don’t — believe.
I’m an agnostic — someone who believes that there could be a God and is open to persuasion, but isn’t sure one way or the other. I was raised in the church, had a loving church family and have a great respect for all it brings to a community — hope, generosity and integrity. But I can’t in good conscience say that I do believe or that I don’t believe when that’s not the case. I have chosen to be completely transparent and honest with the people of Missouri, even if that means I may lose some support.
When I was 14 years old, my mother was hospitalized with what seemed to be a routine illness. I’ll never forget that fateful day, walking up the driveway at Stonegait Farm, my father and grandfather awaited. Something was wrong. My father could barely speak through the tears. It was cancer. Ovarian. Stage 4. Despite the terminal prognosis, we fought together as a family and she thankfully went into remission. A year later the cancer would return, and this time the chemotherapy treatments were ineffective. She died June 9th, 1997… but it was no accident.
It took another year for us to receive word. Oncologists had discovered that a rogue pharmacist by the name of Robert Courtney had been diluting life-saving treatments to thousands of patients in the Kansas City area. My mother received tainted medicine. Now we know why her second round of treatments had been ineffective. Courtney did this solely to enrich himself. He now sits in federal prison in Texas.
It was at that point that I began to question my previously held convictions.
In spite of (or, I would argue, because of) my agnosticism, I’m a passionate defender of religious liberty and have publicly defended it for years in high-profile debates. I value the liberty our Constitution gives me to follow the dictates of my conscience, and I’m appalled by those who would seek to impose their own beliefs on others — whether those beliefs be grounded in religion or whether they be grounded in secularism. I long to see an America where a gay couple can follow their hearts and marry one another and where a baker can follow his beliefs and refuse to help them celebrate.
All that being said, there is one key area where I diverge from the vast majority of libertarians and agnostics. Most people who identify this way are pro-choice, seeing abortion as a way of preserving a mother’s freedom. I couldn’t disagree more. I’m passionately pro-life and believe that Roe v. Wade was one of the cruelest, most heinous decisions ever made by our nation’s leadership.
It’s also one of the most hypocritical decisions, one that goes against the very fiber of who we are as a nation. The Declaration of Independence lays it all out quite clearly. Some truths are (or at least should be) self-evident: that we are all equal, no matter our parentage, race, class or age and that we all have a right not only to liberty and to pursue happiness, but to life itself. History judges societies based on how they treat their most vulnerable members. And when future generations remember that nearly a million abortions occur each year in this country, they will rightly judge us not only for our lack of compassion but for the way in which we betrayed our founding principles.
My pro-life position isn’t just ideological, however; it’s also quite personal. When I was a child, my parents met a woman who had an unwanted pregnancy and was considering abortion. They persuaded her to carry the child to term and offered to adopt after she was born. The woman agreed, and thanks to her courageous decision, I have a wonderful sister named Jodi.
When I think of how many families could experience the joy of adoption and how many children could be brought into loving homes, I’m incredibly grieved. That’s why, if elected, I would not only push to overturn Roe v. Wade, I would also support legislation that deregulates the adoption market, making adoption more affordable for families and making it easier for expectant mothers to choose life.
At the end of the day, I may be an agnostic — but am also an American and a patriot, deeply committed to our country’s values and determined to defend them, whatever the cost. Political correctness and political expediency are not for times such as these. We need leaders who are willing to be frank about what they believe and be consistent in fighting for those beliefs when they reach Washington. I’m committing to serving Missouri in this way, protecting the rights of all to live — and to live and worship as they see fit.
Austin Petersen is a candidate for U.S. Senate.