Pro-Life Thoughts

As the years roll on, I find myself losing patience with the political pro-life movement. The internet makes is difficult to be sympathetic to many of my sister and brothers in the pro-life effort. Aside from agreement on abortion, we don’t have much in common.

We don’t share the same cynicism: I distrust the entire political system; they only distrust the Dems.

They fuss about the government “forcing” the Church out of adoption. I know there are very few kids in the Church’s care. In many dioceses, they could be easily housed in the episcopal manse.

One recent commentator suggested I was “lost.” I happen to think that’s the place to be. In this case, with the one instead of the 99.

I got tired of marching and letter-writing. I had a friend who was married fairly early, and he and his wife were considering an abortion. After a chat, I was depressed and discouraged. I didn’t think I had made much of a difference, but several months later, their first child was born. I pondered the fruitless discussions I’d had in college with a girlfriend’s feminist friends and thought, “I did more good talking with a friend than arguing with strangers.”

I also get very fatigued with the lies, exaggerations, and deceptions. It’s convenient to say that Mr Obama is the most murder-crazed president in US history. Despite indications that Mr Nixon was worse because of his Court appointments, and Mr Clinton on his pro-choice timetable. But mouth foam knows no reason. Nor does it really have a prayer of success.

There’s more than one way to promote life. And unlike the assessment of another internet foil, Jesus is not going to quiz me on millions of aborted fetuses. I know of one that wasn’t aborted. There may well have been others, and if I knew, I wouldn’t say. And if I said, the dissenters would find some way to disagree anyway.

Abortion has made some pro-life people crazy. They need a vacation. It doesn’t all depend on them. If you bang your head against a brick wall long enough, you won’t knock it down. But you will make pudding in your head.

I like Lisa Miller’s piece this week in WaPo’s On Faith. I find the Santorum’s witness to be very inspiring. I think the former senator is naive and all-wrong in his politics. But his family is in the right place in their orthopraxis. From Ms Miller:

Abortion makes many Americans squeamish, but they want it to be legal (not unlike Romney’s stance when he was governor of Massachusetts). In a Time poll last summer, 64 percent of people said they thought a woman had the right to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester. In a Gallup poll around the same time, 77 percent said they thought abortion should sometimes or always be legal. The proportion who think abortion laws should be more restrictive than they are has hovered for a decade at about a third. And half of Americans, even those who think abortion should always be legal, also believe it’s morally wrong.

What has changed in the landscape of American abortion is not public opinion, but the recipients of abortions themselves. The number of abortions in America went down between 2000 and 2008, but the number of poor women who had them rose 18 percent. Women who have abortions are likely to have children at home, to be economically disadvantaged and to have a religious affiliation, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The income gap is at work in the abortion debate as well.

Politicians may not be able to hold two contradictory ideas in their head at the same time, but people can. In real life, people who yearn for babies sometimes lose them. People who don’t want, can’t afford, can’t sustain or can’t nurture a child conceive. Real people understand that at any moment they, or someone they love, could find themselves in either situation.

Life is full of contradictions. If you don’t know that, you’re too young, you’re too rigid, or you have a lot more problems that you should have. All I know is that there’s nothing wrong, illegal, or immoral talking a woman out of an abortion. If that “should” have happened fifty-four million times in the last forty years, that’s what? About two per Catholic? Maybe five or six each for the strong pro-lifers? Would you feel better knowing that if you talked one person a year out of an abortion, the problem would be solved? How long would it take? The time it takes to walk several miles? The time it takes to write a few letters? The time it takes to call a few names and throw a tantrum?

I hope my friend in the pro-life movement bundled up well yesterday and had good shoes. Exercise is good, as is renewing a sense of community with like-minded folks. I don’t see myself joining you. I prefer the lonelier stretches of wilderness rather than the 99.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Pro-Life Thoughts

  1. Jimmy Mac says:

    Amen, brother Todd: Amen!

  2. And just what does cynicism accomplish, my brother Todd?
    If you don’t have anything “new” to bring to this particular table, then you are relegated to just being a critic, yes? To what end, then?

  3. crystal says:

    I agree. I’m probably one of the few pro-contraception and pro-choice Catholics and I’ve never even known anyone who has considered having an abortion, perhaps because everyone used contraception. I saw a post at US Catholic about how countries where abortion is illegal actually have more abortions than where it’s legal, plus, of course, more women there die …

  4. Lynn Hammerlund says:

    Todd, I’m with you on this. The pro-life message is mostly lost because people turn it off, since it is so shrill and strident. I, too, have encountered people in crisis situations considering abortion. There are at least 3 children alive (2 adopted by a couple unable to conceive themselves) because my husband and I intervened. I don’t do demonstrations for this, but if anyone asks me, I am unabashedly pro-life without being angry about it. I really believe that we most totally re-study the problem–who has abortions, why, and what would have reversed the decision. Use the data to change the social landscape. Even if abortion is legal (women will have abortions even if it’s illegal; let’s make it safe), make the cultural landscape/public opinion such that we value human life too much to even consider it as an option in a crisis.

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