Pushback Against the Anti-Abortion-But-Not-Prolife Mentality

Pushback Against the Anti-Abortion-But-Not-Prolife Mentality June 5, 2015

There have been a number of pre-emptive strikes against Francis and his imminent encyclical.  So…

This time, they messed with the wrong woman – Margaret Archer, world-renowned social theorist and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. In the context of an all-too-typical hit piece from First Things, she issued a defiant response. She asks a sequence of questions, starting with this one:

Is your sole concern with human dignity confined to the period between conception and live-birth? If so, this is a travesty of Catholic Social Teaching, whose concern is not confined to the newborn but extends to the development of all those potentialities and powers that exist only in potentia at birth (such as walking and talking) that develop or can be irreparably damaged throughout life.”

I’ve had people get mad at me when I’ve pointed out that things like the death penalty gun violence, unjust war, torture, or poverty are prolife issues too.  One reader furiously demanded to know why prolife activists were expected to drop everything and go protest some shooting in Detroit that killed a couple of people while a million and a half were dying from abortion, etc.  I was, I was told, placing an impossible demand on people with limited resources to do everything and be everywhere.

But that’s not what I’m saying.  I get that people have their focuses and can’t be everywhere doing everything.  Well and good.  If you are devoted to working against abortion full time and can’t fit anything else into your schedule then thank you for your hard work and may God bless and prosper it.  You are one of my heroes.

Yet here’s the  thing.  An awful lot of the “prolife” subculture, protesting that it has no time to expand its energies beyond protesting abortion, *does* have a huge amount of time and energy to work *against* the clear and obvious guidance of the Church on the issues I mention above.  Indeed, they often give every indication of having more time and energy for working against the Church on such issues than for actually doing prolife work. There’s all kinds of time for writing and reading that Catholic Social Teaching is a myth, and rationalizing the war in Iraq, and defending torture, and lobbying for the death penalty, and defending Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and struggling to show that Sandy Hook was a conspiracy by evil parents of the victims to make gun culture look bad, and show that paying a living wage is impossible, and labor to make everybody denounce Francis’ encyclical on the environment before anybody knows a word it says.

And when you point out that they are working against the Church’s clear and obvious guidance, they brandish a Precious Feet pin, shout “But abortion!” and continue laboring to get people to ignore the Church on everything from the death penalty to punishment of the homeless–as though the Church’s guidance on these things is the opposite of being prolife instead the bleeding obvious corollary to being prolife.

This has to end or it will kill the prolife movement and drain away its waning credibility by convincing people it is a merely a convenient front for a sector of the Culture of Death that has figured out how to use the unborn as human shields.

Bottom line: listen to the Church’s whole teaching.  Be Consistent.

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