Basic Morality: Means, Ends

I have been following the PP video capture first via America where I noted that Sam Sawyer, SJ (here and especially here) was insufficiently congruent to the angry pro-life position offered there. I wasn’t surprised to find Mark Shea weighing in with a good dollop of sense here.

Long ago, I had a friend who was recently married. But fresh out of college, wasn’t in the best financial straits. And his wife was coming from a rather broken home situation. An early term abortion seemed to make sense as the justified means to a better end: being able to provide for a future family, especially when only one wage-earner was needed to provide for a growing family. Abortion wasn’t chosen, thank goodness.

I hear more than ninety percent of people who have abortions never regret them. There are persuasive boyfriends, live-ins, husbands, and even parents who urge the short-term relief and a brighter or more harmonious future in return for a “minor” medical procedure. In the case of abusive partners or families, the relief might never come–more obviously a devil’s deal for the persuaded.

The hidden video camera is nearly ubiquitous today. And the political side of the pro-life movement indeed makes use of it. A trap. Mark Shea says “backfire.” He also adds:

The devil’s two main tools with angry people itching to cut moral corners are temptation and accusation. He whispers “Go ahead. Do evil that good will come of it! Look how much *more* evil those guys are! There’s no comparison! Are you going to be some moral idiot who does nothing while stuff like this is going on?”

So we go ahead and attempt the Noble Lie. And when we give in to the temptation to use lies and we get caught, we then face accusation, watch everything we fought for collapse like a house of cards, and hear Screwtape cackle: “To get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return–that is what really gladdens our Father’s heart.” Remedy: stop using lies. As Augustine says, “God does not need my lie.”

A good motto: the ends do not justify the means. It’s a good line to keep repeating. Not every corner-cutter gets caught. But when they do, they cast a doubt against allies near and far. Pro-lifers are tagged as “opportunistic, political, lying tattletales.” Do you suppose somebody, somewhere, hesitated and moved on from the door at Birthright wondering if they were going to be captured on secret video?

Not every sin is brought to light, but when it happens, there are consequences. The consequence here is that the political pro-life movement is just like every other choice in the world. Good and bad people are for and against it. A lot of money is spent for and against. Some people involved need to get a life. Move along, and check what’s on the other cable channels.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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