Catholicism in the last few decades has been consumed by a tension between two struggles. The first: to live according to the Gospel in a compassionate, humble, and persistent way. The second: the temptation to dive into grandiose statements and the self-righteous minimizing of others.
The abortion debate has for decades been a distraction from the Gospel rather than a fulfillment of its teachings.
Why? Because many of the faithful are content with the easiest possible solutions: bans, restrictions, and intimidation. There is nothing easier to do in our country than to restrict women’s freedom. It has become an addiction and a distraction from a much harder question, one that would demand a level of soul-searching that the most vocal supporters of the recent law in Alabama are unable to have.
How do we build a world in which children can be lovingly born? How do we do this without giving in to the worst parts of ourselves? The parts that believe if we just shame and restrict women, they will behave as we want them to? That we can maintain the vast inequality between rich and poor and the below-bare-minimum support for new mothers and call ourselves Pro-Life in any way that is not a joke? Can we really believe that anyone can be a full citizen without having autonomy over the moral choices that affect their bodies?
When so many who applaud the brutalizing of immigrants, the separation of families, the death penalty, and the savaging of the poor, is the Pro-Life movement anything more than hollow branding of GOP policies? Another tribal marker that is as foreign to the Gospels as the crony capitalism they also cheer on?
So again we see the movement turn to easy answers that dehumanize women instead of the radical social change the Gospels demand. Hypocrisy and self-righteousness win the day again in a state legislature as children still go hungry in levels unheard of in an industrialized nation.
If you want a true Pro-Life movement put down the signs and pick up the serving spoon. Put down the poster board covered in disturbing images and start writing checks to food banks. Start smiling. Start helping. Start the sort of revolution the Gospels demand. Start supporting SNAP benefits and stop sharing snarky stories about mothers at grocery stores who dare to buy candy or soda for their children. Question your allegiance to Trump by reading the Gospels. Make this a country that welcomes and loves children and their mothers. Then, and only then, will we have a Pro-Life movement worth that name.