I have been growing more confused by the day why the ardent “Pro-Lifers” continue and even entrench further in support of Trump: what has he actually done on abortion? The support continues and yet the Republicans have controlled the levers of power in both houses of Congress and the Presidency for 18 months and have done absolutely nothing about abortion in all that time. Planned Parenthood is still funded at the same levels as ever, just as many abortions as there were under Obama, nothing’s changed. What am I not seeing that he is giving to the community that claims abortion is its singular animating issue?
The Old Prolife Movement, such as the Susan B. Anthony List will point to stuff like this:
- Surrounding himself with pro-life stalwarts like Mike Pence, who he recently called a “true leader in the Pro-life Movement,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway. (Translation: empty symbolism)
- Appointing pro-life Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, which was a key promise that drew wide-spread support from many in the pro-life community. (Translation: appointing a judge who says that Roe is “the law of the land”)
- Promising to sign the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when babies in the womb can feel the excruciating pain of abortion. (Translation: promises from a sociopath and pathological liar)
- Reinstituting the Mexico City Policy and expanding it to bar any U.S. government foreign assistance from funding abortion. (Translation: the standard “Shut up and Vote GOP, You Dumb Suckers” Participation Trophy given by All GOP Presidents)
- Creating the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, which will protect doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who do not want to participate in the abortion procedure. (An actual achievement, if it does the job it is supposed to do and is not cocooned in the Trump Administration’s chaos)
- Announcing the federal Protect Life Rule, which will direct Title X tax dollars away from Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities and toward pro-life health care centers. (Translation: sleight of hand to distract you from the fact that they have refunded Planned Parenthood six times since Trump took office).
And, this week, there was the SCOTUS ruling on CPCs, protecting free speech. A real (though still not big) victory. The abortion rate goes on, unabated. Which is the only thing that matters, feel good stories notwithstanding.
In the meantime, the damage done to the credibility of the Old Prolife Movement has been fatal. There is nothing left of it. As I noted previously:
I am actually old enough to remember the genesis of the Prolife Movement and how it settled on its branding. Back in the 70s, as it was first starting to germinate, opponents of abortion were criticized by those defending abortion as being merely “anti-abortion”. The reply was that, no, we are pro-life–from conception to natural death. I believed that and, as a Catholic, I believe it still. A consistent life ethic defends human life from conception to natural death. It is about the right to live, not merely the right to be born.
But then the prolife movement was co-opted by American conservatives and taught to regard the unborn as the opposite of every form of human life conservatives want to treat with contempt. The poisonous drip of this lie has lasted 35 years and now we have arrived at the point where Old Prolife Movement “orthodoxy” means that we are indeed simply and solely anti-abortion and conservative assaults on the sanctity of human life are to be ignored, excused and even salivated over. And so it has now come to pass that the most passionate, vindictive, gloating, and sadistic fans of ripping children from their parents’ arms are “prolife”, conservative, white, self-identified Christians, both Protestant and Catholic.
And so the *primary* function of the prolife movement is not even to protect the unborn, much less to protect human life from conception to natural death. It is to protect D0nald Trump and whatever his party of nihilist predators are up to today. Kidnapping, traumatizing and holding hostage defenseless children. Not as bad as abortion, so hell yeah! Robbing poor people, including vets, of food stamps! Punish the parasites! What is that compared to abortion anyway! Destroying health care for expecting mother and calling pregnancy a pre-existing condition? No problem. It’s unborn babies we are focused on, not their parasite mothers who want our hard-earned money. Destroying the environment? We are prolife, not some kind of liberal tree huggers! And so on.The “prolife” monomaniac has been brainwashed into turning every form of human life and human need into the opposite of the unborn, not to see the unborn related (as they are) to other humans and to the good of the earth from which they are made. He cannot think outside his cramped little box of fanaticism. And he does not realize that he has almost entirely ceased to pay attention to the unborn except insofar as the unborn are useful tools for his real passion: defending the Party of Trump, which could not care less about children, born or unborn, except as human shields for inflicting harm on a wide variety of intended victims.
The Old Prolife Movement is now, by and large, the enemy of the least of these, the Church, and therefore of Christ. Pope Francis has their number:
101. The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.
102. We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. Can we not realize that this is exactly what Jesus demands of us, when he tells us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome him (cf. Mt 25:35)? Saint Benedict did so readily, and though it might have “complicated” the life of his monks, he ordered that all guests who knocked at the monastery door be welcomed “like Christ”, with a gesture of veneration; the poor and pilgrims were to be met with “the greatest care and solicitude”.
103. A similar approach is found in the Old Testament: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex 22:21). “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Lev 19:33-34). This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad. In today’s world too, we are called to follow the path of spiritual wisdom proposed by the prophet Isaiah to show what is pleasing to God. “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn” (58:7-8).
The New Prolife Movement holds to the Church’s consistent life ethic and calls, very simply, for the protection of all human life from conception to natural death.