I am more than frustrated with my fellow Catholics just now.
First of all, I knew it was only a matter of time before people started appropriating the savage murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to score cheap rhetorical points. I was not at all surprised when one of the first culprits I saw was someone who would call himself pro-life, and a “secretary” of the increasingly alarming American Solidarity Party. At one point I thought the ASP sounded like a refreshing alternative to the two major parties, but it reveals itself to be more and more of a joke as time goes on. Still, my jaw dropped at the absolute crassness of this person’s facbook status.
The status read, “Liberals are understandably repelled by the killing and dismemberment of Kamal Kashoggi [sic]. Now if they could just feel that way about unborn children.”
First of all, you ignorant lout, his name is Jamal Khashoggi. Jamal. “Kamal” isn’t a name to my knowledge, and “Kamala” is a girls’ name from India. “Jamal” is a man’s name and it’s Arabic. It’s extremely common, not only for Arab people but also for African-Americans and I’m sure for other groups as well. It’s not even hard to spell. You can remember “Jamal.”
Secondly, shut up. It is not okay to respond to shock and horror at a barbaric murder by bringing up other hideous things we have to feel bad about. It’s not. Do you picket car accidents with signs that say “if only you also cared about abortion?” Would you visit your friend in the hospital after he’d been stabbed and say “how can you just lie there complaining when there are unborn babies to be saved?” Well, perhaps you do, but would a sensible person?
And that’s not the only nonsense I have seen from a man who calls himself a pro-life Catholic today. Several of my friends have been sharing the news story about a woman whose unborn baby had died in a tragic miscarriage. She needed medication to avoid surgery or sepsis because the miscarriage was not completing itself naturally, but the child was absolutely confirmed to be dead by her doctor. This was in no way anything like an abortion.
But the pharmacist reportedly refused to fulfill her prescription for the miscarriage medication. And he said it was because he was a “good Catholic.”
Yes, sometimes that medication, Misoprostol, is used in combination with another medication to produce an abortion, but this woman was not filling a prescription for that cocktail of medicines for an abortion. She was taking Misoprostol by itself for one of its other well-known purposes: to help expel the tissue from a miscarriage after the baby was already dead so that she would not have to get a surgery to prevent severe infection. Infections from an incomplete miscarriage can kill a woman, and have many times before. There are certain people whom I wouldn’t blame for not knowing that Misoprostol has several uses, most of which are 100% morally licit to a Catholic. One person I would never put on that list is a pharmacist. A pharmacist’s whole job is knowing about medications and what they’re for, and giving them to people when they present a prescription. He had no excuse for presuming the woman was trying to abort a baby. He especially had no excuse, because the woman reportedly told him that she had a miscarriage, but he refused to believe her. He wouldn’t give her the medicine; he wouldn’t even transfer her prescription to anyone else in case she was lying.
That man is anything but a good Catholic. That situation has nothing whatsoever to do with a Catholic’s obligation not to provide material cooperation with an abortion. This is just a case of an arrogant man who is bad at his job putting a woman’s life in danger because he refused to believe her.
I have expressed my shock, as a pro-life woman and a devout Catholic, at what insensitive, callous and dangerous things men who claim to be pro-life do, so many times, it seems futile to express it again. But I have to. I have to keep reminding everyone who will listen that what they’re doing is anti-life and wrong.
Personhood is not zero sum.
That’s not how it works.
The personhood of one vulnerable human being does not take away the personhood of another. Defending one human does not mean being crass or abusive with another.
I am morally certain that a human fetus has personhood. I am also morally certain that the personhood of that fetus does not rob her mother of personhood. Nor does it rob a Saudi journalist who was butchered for speaking truth to power, or a Guatemalan teenager in a cage in a United States detention facility, or a teenager who was sexually assaulted at a party, or a murderer on death row, or any kind of human being of their personhood.
Many pro-life people know this and live as if they know it, but the ones I see acting up in public don’t seem to.
There is nothing pro-life about a man denying necessary medication to a 35-year-old woman who is in danger of sepsis, just in case she’s actually lying. There is nothing pro-life about a ridiculously pompous self-important third-party politician making callous jokes at the expense of a man who was tortured to death. There can never be anything pro-life about disregarding the value of one human being because another type of human being also exists. It’s immoral in the first place. And, if unborn babies are truly all you care about: behaving in this way makes concern for the well-being of unborn babies look oafish and cruel. It makes objecting to tearing a baby apart look like a foolish and misogynistic thing.
It is not necessary to behave in this way.
My saying so won’t stop people from doing it, of course. But I have to say it anyway: stop.
(image via Pixabay)