Austin Ruse wrote a hatchet piece on the NPLM a few days ago. Rebecca Bratten Weiss and Matthew Tyson reply.
Very briefly. The New Prolife Movement exists because the leaders of the old prolife movement consistently claim that support for life from conception to natural death is not what it actually is–the teaching of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church–but a plot to destroy the prolife movement.
This is false. And the falsity becomes clearer and clearer when the people making that claim devote their energy, not to defending the unborn, but to battling the Church to defend an unjust war condemned by two popes and all the world’s bishops, torture, the death penalty, denial of a living wage, the arms industry, and any other talking point of the Party of Trump, including the vitally important prolife cause of boycotting Hamilton and trying to force Kellogg’s to advertise on Breitbart.
The traditional line to rationalize all this mission creep is that all these things are “prudential judgments” and therefore you can differ with the Church about them. But abortion is the *core* moral issue, so our focus needs to be there and not distracted by these lesser moral issues. As somebody told me just the other day for the umpteenth time, Abortion is fundamental because without life, you cannot even begin to talk about feeding the hungry or clothing the naked.
Here’s the thing, none of that is true. Some questions are prudential judgements and others are not. Torture is not a prudential judgement, for instance. It is as gravely and intrinsically immoral as abortion.
When that is pointed out, the discussion moves to the Definition Game and Old Prolifers proceed to waste an entire decade quibbling about just how much abuse you can heap on human beings before it is technically torture.
And that leaves two questions lying out in plain view.
The first is “Why on earth would anybody be regarded as ‘prudent’, much less vastly more prudent than Holy Church, when they divert a decade’s worth of time and energy to trying to split hairs on how much you can beat, drown, freeze and suffocate a man?” Especially when the Church’s simple counsel resolves the “debate” in five seconds: Treat prisoners humanely and you never have to engage in such a criminally moronic waste of time much less insult everybody’s intelligence by calling it “prudent”.The second is this: whether or not something is a “prudential judgment” is beside the point. If abortion is the “core issue” and we are not supposed to divert our time and energy from defending the unborn to secondary issues as Ruse charges the New Prolife Movement with aiming to do (even going so far as to say that defending the dignity and sanctity of human life from conception to natural death an attempt to “destroy” the prolife movement), well then why does the Old Prolife Movement spend so much time and energy on things have nothing to do with abortion? The time and energy spent battling the Church to defend unjust war, torture, the death penalty and all the rest of it somehow never get treated as a massive distraction. Only the efforts of Catholics to listen to, defend, and obey the Church on these matters–because they are directly related to the dignity of human life from conception to natural death–are scorned by Ruse and his allies as somehow constituting distractions.
This is the essential sleight of hand of the old prolife movement in fealty to Party of Trump. It is why I say the unborn are used by such leaders as human shields for the real core issues: namely, whatever the GOP leadership wishes to do.
It is important to note that by no means are all people involved in the prolife movement complicit in such a shell game. How do I know? Because the people forming the New Prolife Movement have all been involved in the prolife movement for years. Their goal has been, for years, the protection of human life from conception to natural death. They are participants in 40 Days for Life, Crisis Pregancy Centers, Rachel’s Vineyard and similar wonderful apostolates. There are thousands of such noble warriors for the cause of life and they have been laboring in the vineyard, sometimes for decades. Merely being a longtime member of the prolife movement does not make somebody a member of the Old Prolife Movement. Rather, the distinction is simply this: Is it more important to protect human life from conception to natural death, or to protect the priorities of the Trumped Up GOP when it champions unjust war and torture, the death penalty, stripping the elderly and the sick of social safety net protections, denying the working poor a just wage, battling to make sure that absolutely nothing is done to stop the annual gun slaughter of 33,000 Americans, and fighting to defend whatever Trump does, no matter how obviously at odds with the Church teaching? If it’s the former, then you are a member of the NPLM even if you’ve been prolife for 40 years. If it’s the latter, then you are a member of the OPLM, even if (like Donald Trump) you just assumed a prolife pose three seconds ago.
The message of the NPLM is very simple: Listen to the whole teaching of the Church. See the dignity of the unborn as related to, not pitted against, the dignity of all the other human beings the Church is pledged to protect and save. That’s it. That’s all.