Had an interesting conversation with a friend about prolife utopianism

Had an interesting conversation with a friend about prolife utopianism August 3, 2016

It started with a comment from a reader who said:

And do any of you really think than just banning abortion will stop it? I do not get the anti abortion movement…they are anything but pro-life. The ecomomic quagmire that Trump and the GOP would create will cause more children to die…infanticide, abandoment and abuse by parents that just have no hope, lack of healthcare and no resources is so much better I guess. Shaming of young and unwed mothers that hide their condition because their oh so pro-life parents will toss them out of the house…yeah, really great way to make abortion seem like the best option. Work on the issues that lead to abortion and then you might have done credibility.

At this point, another friend named Brian (a devout prolife Catholic agreed):

Banning it won’t stop it. Repealing Roe v Wade however puts the matter in the states’ hands to address per the desires of their respective constituencies.

And I responded, “True. But Roe will never be repealed. 80% of Americans don’t want it repealed and neither party has the slightest intention of doing so.”

Brian: I realize that both of these points are true. I’m simply answering the question of the value of removing it as a national-level law.

Yup. And you’re right. it would kick the issue to the states where a few would outlaw it–and people would go to the next state over. 🙁

Brian: I think that it’ll only be removed by changing the approach altogether: remove the factors that turn it into a serious option for ones seeking abortions. If those approaches create viable options for the abortion-seeker then the current laws become toothless in practice.

Exactamundo. One of the things that increasingly strikes me about the prolife movement’s approach to abortion is how *utopian* it is. Nobody says that you are a CINO and a fake Catholic if you acknowledge that war or murder or theft or poverty are never going to be completely eliminated. But suggest that abortion is never going to be wiped out and that the expectation of doing so is actually counterproductive (since it tends to get pitted against all the rest of Church teaching) and suddenly you are a servant of Satan.

Brian: Mark, it’d be a good paper exercise I think to start with an end objective statement, “eliminate or reduce abortion” and then draw lines to various bubbles that contain the various reasons that bring someone to the point where they’re walking into their local PP facility. From each of this bubbles draw additional bubbles that contain the reasons that bring a person to each one of those respective points. From there, figure out what of those causes can be addressed by bolstering existing SS programs to be more effective, or determine such as in our case if a parish community can muster the resources to pick off one or more of those causal factors.
Doing something like this starts to build the strategy to take the teeth out of whatever laws one wants to put on the books to increase access to PP and others offerings.

You are a wise and prudent man. I agree completely. The curious dichotomy that has grown up is the distinction between those who want to save actually concrete lives and those committed to maintaining the utopian abstract goal of “eliminating abortion” and purging all those who don’t buy utopianism.

Brian: Mark, I concur of course. The good news is that tangible, effective results ultimately become hard to discount over time when those results are noted over and over and over to such individuals. Many will still argue, but many others will eventually come to see the truth contained in the diminishing numbers

The key is “over time”. The thick protective coating of ideology over the human brain has made the prolife movement stunningly resistant to thinking in new ways. Ideas like yours will be quickly attacked as “caving to liberalism” because they acknowledge that attacking supply is not nearly as efficient as addressing demand in actually reducing abortion. That’s what liberals do, and so you are a heretic. Ideas have to hit human brains again and again, like sperm attacking and egg, until one finally gets through and a new thought is born.

Brian: Mark, that’s the thing about inertia: protracted application of a small, steady force is the only way to get such supertankers to change course.
Not on the abortion issue, but I’ve certainly been such a supertanker at points in my life.

It’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to figure out as much as I have and only with small and steady applications of grace and the Church’s teaching. One of my many faults is my failure of patience with similar slowness in everybody except me. I’m quite the hypocrite.

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