Trump Marches, Catholics Sell Out

Trump Marches, Catholics Sell Out January 25, 2020

I’ve been feeling more and more disillusioned with the mainstream pro-life platform. Maybe it’s the fact that it has been pigeonholed further into the right wing, or that it often tends to ignore the way women who choose to abort are trapped in systems of poverty, racism, and sexism. 

I’m encouraged by the increase in non-white, non-religious, in general left wing pro-lifers. But above all, I see that many Catholics seem to think voting for pro-life politicians is enough in itself, as if checking an obligatory box. Some seem to easily forget that the job is not done there, and that the actual circumstances of women in crisis pregnancies will be helped very little by the mere changing of a law. 

After one of my closest friends had an abortion last year, I realized how far removed the mainstream pro-life platform has become from these real life circumstances. I agree that the law indeed contains a pedagogical power to teach and defend what is right. But meeting women where they are at, facing the damage done to them by irresponsible and sometimes abusive men, and helping them to recognize their own dignity, the dignity of their child, and the liberating grace and task of maternity takes more than political activism. It takes an encounter, a community, and a proposal for life that is powerful and tangible enough to sustain her in her struggle to say yes to life and all the difficulties that will entail.

I applaud the efforts of crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life health clinics, and communities like the Sisters of Life who actually work face to face with these women. And it became clear to me today that the mainstream pro-life moment is less interested in these concrete gestures of solidarity, and is more interested in promoting itself as a political-ideological agenda. 

The presence of President Donald J. Trump at the March for Life—the first American president to speak there—made this fact resoundingly clear, and further alienated me from the pro-life “agenda.” To see all the Catholic news outlets rejoicing over Trump’s presence at the March was a sign of the shallowness of the American Catholic media…to its commitment to ideology and sensationalism, as opposed to Christ’s wounded Body, and the experience of communion with our neighbor.  

President Donald Trump speaks at a March for Life rally, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, on the National Mall in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Needless to say, Trump’s presence makes Catholics and pro-lifers lose any vestige of credibility we had in the public square. Not only this, but it damages the growing possibility of establishing a respect for the unborn in Democratic, feminist, and non-religious circles.  

Worst of all, Trump’s uncouth, irrational, xenophobic, sexist and often borderline (if not outright) racist rhetoric destroys the ideal of promoting a consistent life ethic.

Yes, I know that abortion is an intrinsically evil action. I know it ranks higher in the hierarchy of mortal sins within Catholic moral theology, and is more objectively sinful than withholding goods from the poor or being unwelcoming to migrants. But, at this point, I strongly believe that Catholics can’t afford to make concessions for this one issue. I don’t think it’s morally or culturally credible to maintain the stance that abortion is the only pro-life issue that matters. While there are valid concerns about maintaining national security and identity and avoiding the dangers of the social welfare State, the plight of the poor, immigrants, and racial minorities has become too grave to be given the back seat.

I’m afraid that too many Catholics have sold out too easily with Trump. Trump’s appearance at the March was highly strategic, and we play right into his hands, throwing away our dignity over this single issue…on which his general track record indicates he doesn’t seem to care much for anyway.

His words at the March (which are shockingly coherent considering his usual style of speaking and tweeting) were clearly placed in his hands by those who think pandering to naive Catholic and Evangelical right wing voting blocs will work. Even if we do take him for “his” word, and he does overturn Roe v. Wade, can we really trust that he’ll work to promote the dignity of all lives, from womb to tomb and everything in between?

Now, I understand that many Catholics had other reasons for voting for him, which I find mildly understandable. And yes, I will applaud him if he actually overturns Roe v. Wade. But that would not even come close to being enough.

Catholics’ best bet at this point is to heed the Pope’s advice to recognize that “realities are more important than ideas.” Let our point of reference not be abstract theological or ideological principles, but the experience of Christ’s love incarnated in His Body, the communion of His Church. Let us “get our hands dirty,” seeking Christ’s body in the concrete circumstances of the woman in crisis and her unborn child. Let’s immerse ourselves in the struggle of the migrant, the poor, the elderly, and all those privileged places where He chooses to make His flesh most tangible.

Let’s not sell out so easily for the illusion of a theoretical victory, which Scripture tells us can only come through the Cross of Christ.  Our witness, and our credibility in this country, depends on this choice. 

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  • . . . you’re kidding right?

  • Elizabeth Elizabeth

    So true.

  • J_Bob

    Many, or most, of the Pro-Life groups work out of the Media’s view, helping the child, born or unborn, along with the mother and other members of the family. These are the soldiers in the trench, without the photo ops

    I’ve yet to hear CNN go to a Birthright (which we support, among others), or other shelter to see what’s it like on the ground.

  • danielmuller

    So much pearl clutching over … a politician? How does the author even get out of bed in the morning to face an imperfect world?

  • Elizabeth Elizabeth

    In other words, you think the immoral decisions of the president of the most powerful country on earth are no big deal so you can mock the person who actually cares about other human beings on this planet and how those decisions affect them. Got it.

  • danielmuller

    Why, yes ! I am evil ! How did you guess ?

    My topic was drama. Thank you for proving my point.

    The original topic is saving innocent lives. President Trump is saving innocent lives. Congratulations for being born.

  • Naters

    What about the presence of pro-life libertarians?

  • Naters

    You mean the same president who said that we needed to go further than waterboarding?

  • Elizabeth Elizabeth

    Abortion is exactly as legal today as it was the day before Trump was elected, if that is what you mean. Maybe you have met someone who changed their mind about abortion because of Trump’s example, but I have not heard of such a person. I don’t see Trump saving any lives. And I don’t think that compassion for others is “dramatic”. You and many like you are showing me that following Trump correlates highly with callousness. It’s scary what is happening to all of you.

  • Elizabeth Elizabeth

    Same person.

  • danielmuller

    You have missed my point. completely. Have a good evening.

  • M.R. Schwartz

    The author claims that the Pro-Life march, just because President Trump showed up to speak, is proof of the marchers’ “commitment to an ideology.” Need I remind the author that Nixon, Ford,Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama – all have spoke of the value of human life but most took no or token action. Some even enabled the public policies that contradicted their own words! The March for Life organizers would have loved to have any previous President speak at the rally, Democrat or Republican – if their actions equaled their words.

    No previous President, Republican or Democrat, would speak to the rally as they were aware their hypocrisy would not be well received in a large public forum, especially after their first term. Now with President Trump, we have a man who says the right things and ACTS to implement them. After eight Presidents over several decades of marches, we finally have a President who acts on his promises. The author’s obvious hatred of Trump supersedes the fulfillment of decades-long promises of pro-life measures.

    I argue that the fact that the Pro-Life movement’s acceptance of President Trump’s work for the pro-life cause despite his imperfections, is a sure sign of a mature Christianity. That implies that your Christianity is at least immature and certainly ideologically based on politics. It is often said that the political left accuses all others of the flaws they themselves gleefully do. Your article is yet another proof of that observation.

  • Tom O.

    If you really want to know what moved Trump from being a neutral to pro choice man to a staunch pro lifer, just look at the one person who he will really listen to. His wife Melania. And make a note of how a strong woman can influence a strong man.

  • Firstfriday

    You don’t see Trump saving any lives?? Ever hear of the Mexico City Policy? One of the first things Trump did after taking office was to reinstate that policy:

    Directly saving lives. Trump is unarguably the most pro-life president and the premise of Mr. Adubato’s article is very thinly veiled Trump derangement syndrome. Disgraceful using pro-life Catholics to make his case.

  • Mark Albrecht

    Good article. This needs to be said – i.e., playing into the hands of a dishonest and blasphemous president. His appearance at the rally was a cynical ploy to convince people that he really cares about this issue, which he doesn’t.

  • Shaun G. Lynch

    Great analysis!

    Abortion prohibition is NOT the same thing as being “pro-life!” The pro-life stance has been hijacked and turned into a wedge issue by right-wingers who, for the most part, have no interest whatsoever for the lives of those who have already been born.

    If one really wants to reduce the number of abortions, the only sensible way to do it is by introducing a plethora of family-friendly policies whose collective impact will be to make it easier to raise children… and that will cost a lot of money. I’m talking about things like generous parental leave policies, mandatory annual vacation policies, a minimum wage that can actually support a family and, of course, single-payer healthcare. But the mainstream “pro-life” movement wants NOTHING to do with such policies because, bottom line, they tend to be economic conservatives who collectively object to anything that might cost them money, especially through taxation. Promoting abortion prohibition is a convenient way to give the appearance of caring about life, without having to consider any sort of personal sacrifice.

    Suppose the so-called “pro-lifers” got their most fervent wish, and Roe v. Wade was reversed by the Supreme Court. What would happen? A number of conservative-leaning states already have abortion prohibition legislation on stand-by, ready to come into effect immediately following the decision. Women in those states will be forced to bear and raise children they don’t want, often because they can’t afford to care for them. But because these are conservative states, there will be no effort made to help them, as that would imply government spending, which in turn would require tax increases.

    Meanwhile, in those same states, women with the financial means to do so will simply travel to one of the many states where abortion will continue to be readily available. So, there will be a negligible impact on the number of abortions, even in states that will prohibit the practice. And those who will suffer the most will be those with the lowest financial resources, along with the children that they will be forced to bear and who, having now been born, will no longer be a priority for the self-congratulating “pro-lifers.”

    What’s needed is a radically new perspective on the concept of being “pro-life,” one which recognizes that concern for life can’t reasonably end at the moment of birth, and that accepts the necessity for everyone to share the costs associated with the welfare and well-being of everyone, including those who have already been born!

  • Firstfriday

    You mean the seamless garment/consistent ethic of life case put forth by Cdl Bernardin? I think St. Pope John Paul ll demolished that argument. And in your last paragraph -surely you aren’t making a case for communism??

  • Can you show me where either of them have explained their philosophy as to why they switched sides?

    I’ve searched for it, and I’ve yet to actually find it. What I continue to find is usually Donald hearing that question and deflecting to how proud he is of his admin’s (marginal) accomplishments towards this.

  • I’m sure the people of Puetro Rico might disagree with “the most pro-life” president notion.
    How long did it take aid to arrive again? A week?

  • Tom O.

    It’s not that they switched sides, it’s that by her influence, she moved him.

  • So in other words, no you can’t show me what their philosophy is.
    Got it.

  • Ned Lemon

    -“strong women” ? Nothing in her known past would suggest that to be true.
    -“strong man” ? Nothing in his known past would suggest that to be true.

  • Ned Lemon

    She certainly moved him.

  • Ned Lemon

    You have no argument and you probably know it. Those other guys were not dependent on “mature Christians” to continue as chief executive. Those other guys were not concerned about possible federal indictments the moment they left office.

  • Ned Lemon

    I have a loved one who spent his weekend assuring his counterparts in allied foreign military units that our government is not totally disordered. I have teachers in my family who live in fear because our top “politician” lacks the courage to at least address the promises he made to school children regarding school violence. I have friends in local communities who are afraid to drink water provided by their municipalities because they can no longer trust the laws that are meant to protect the watersheds. I think twice before boarding an aircraft when I think back to the second Boeing Max crash that occurred because the president received a phone call from the company’s chief demanding the planes not to be grounded.
    -Maybe real concerns like the few I’ve listed motivates the author to get up everyday. Maybe reality gives a legitimate urgency to critical thinking.

  • Elizabeth Elizabeth

    I think that is most definitely wishful thinking to an extreme degree. Is there any evidence that Melania, in and of herself, is even pro-life at all? Is there any evidence that she even talks to Donald? There’s no evidence. No one’s ever observed them even having an actual conversation. And if she is pro-life, her convictions must be extremely bland, as she has been in the public eye since she married Donald Trump and would have had many, many, many, many opportunities to do something (anything!!!!) in favor of the pro-life cause. Instead her public persona has been entirely about makeup and fashion. Of course you can imagine she is a woman of strong convictions who influenced her husband if you want to. “Sometimes in the dark we see what we want to see.”

  • Elizabeth Elizabeth

    Mexico City Policy is not “directly saving lives”. It is cutting funding; it doesn’t guarantee that abortions don’t happen. Every Republican president reinstated the Mexico City Policy. Any Republican would have done that. It’s not like he is any different. Did we have to make a pact with the devil to get what any of them did/would have done?

  • Elizabeth Elizabeth

    Why did he try to tell them it is not completely disordered?

  • Elizabeth Elizabeth


  • Elizabeth Elizabeth

    I understood your point very well. The author’s concerns are just “dramatics” to you. Nothing too hard to understand there.

  • Mark Albrecht
  • Ned Lemon

    No, I don’t believe that’s what Shaun means and Saint John Paul did not demolish your obligation to think comrade

  • Mark Albrecht

    Good observation. Her public shtick is anti-bullying, sort of ironic given her husband’s tirades against anyone who crosses him. She knew what she was getting into when she married him.

  • tdj

    This guy (whoever he is) is delusional.
    Which party went from safe, rare and legal to abortion at any stage of pregnancy, including the moment of birth, in less than a generation?
    If you think Catholics care only about overturning Roe v Wade you must have been hiding under a rock for the past 20 years.

  • Joel T Bowling

    Shameful portrayal of both the pro-life/anti-infanticide/abortion movement and of Pres Trump!

  • Pennybird

    There are no abortions at birth.

  • Pennybird

    It sounds more a like an argument for putting your money where your mouth is.

  • RoverSerton

    Your statement of one of your closest friends having an abortion. I would have loved to have had a very superficial mention of why she needed to do it. Was she poor? In an abusive relationship? Birth control fail? Non viable or ectopic pregnancy? So many possible reasons. I support her and it sounds like you didn’t disown her after her decision.