In an election cycle with no good choices for pro-lifers, it can be tempting to despair. But just below the surface of ratings-driven coverage of the mostly-traditional Democratic and Republican conventions there are many different kinds of movements bubbling up.
One such movement might be called “Alt-Life.” Pro-Lifers who don’t allign with the traditional small-government/religious-right coalition formed back in 1979. And media are starting to pay attention. Take a look at this list:
NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER: “Millennials Organize to Advance Consistent Life Ethic”DAILY CALLER: “Pro-Life Democrats Rip Party Platform As Most Extreme Pro-Abortion Platform in History“JEZEBEL: “Democrats for Life Just Want to be Included, and They Have a Good Reason For Why They Should Be”
This is a very large number of pieces, and from an astonishingly diverse group of media outlets. Both NCR and Aleteia? Both the LA Times and the Weekly Standard? Both Jezebel and Breitbart? I mean, come on. If the pro-life movement could straddle these ideological lines on a broader level we would be saving a lot more babies and supporting a lot more mothers.
Perhaps most interesting of all the pieces, however, came from outlets generally hostile to pro-lifers. Jezebel actually headlined the fact that pro-lifers “have a good reason” for why they belong in the Democratic party. And how about this paragraph from the Mother Jones piece?
“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Christina Healy, a 24-year-old medical student from Cleveland. “It feels like we are being pushed out of the party, but not for a good reason.” Healy, a vegetarian sporting purple hair who is not registered with any party, is struggling to find a candidate whom she can support without violating her opposition to “aggressive violence across the board”—which she said extends from abortion to the death penalty, war, and torture. “I’m a huge Jill Stein fan,” she said, referring to the Green Party’s presidential candidate, “but I can’t violate my conscience because she’s so pro-abortion.”
Rewire calls us “anti-choice” and has made an industry out of attacking pro-life arguments, but their piece drew attention to this:
The Louisiana governor [Edwards] added that though it may not seem it, there are many more anti-choice Democrats like the two of them who aren’t comfortable coming forward about their views. “I’m telling you there are many more people out there like us than you might imagine,” Edwards said. “But sometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on these issues to remain silent because they’re not going to be questioned, and they’re not going to be receiving any criticism.” During his speech, Edwards touted the way he has put his views as an anti-choice Democrat into practice in his home state. “I am a proud Democrat, and I am also very proudly pro-life.”
The pro-life times, they are a-changin’. And the change can’t come fast enough.
To what degree is it true that making abortion illegal will prevent abortions? Has making drugs illegal prevented drug use?
To what degree is it true that being alive is always better than not being alive? If it’s true innocent babies are going straight back to God without exception, why is such an outcome seen to be automatically inferior to birth and life? Isn’t getting back to God where we’re all trying to go?
Is it true that aborted babies are denied the opportunity to be born and live? Isn’t God in charge of if, when and how souls take on human form? How do we know that the souls of aborted babies don’t bounce right back in to this world a few minutes later somewhere else?
To what degree is it moral to force people to have babies they don’t want, given that in many cases such an act will begin a process of suffering that radiates out in all directions for generations to come? Can we have a truly reasoned relationship with the issue of abortion if we don’t fairly weigh the costs of making abortion illegal against the costs involved with legal abortion?
Does morality require us to convert every issue in to a satisfyingly simplistic right/wrong good/bad duality, or is being human typically more complicated than that?
Is it possible that it would be more serious, credible, persuasive and effective for the huge Catholic community to offer to raise many of these babies? Wouldn’t such direct positive action do a better job of making the case, uniting people and building a consensus, than a never ending process of angry morally superior finger pointing?
Do activists on any issue choose moralizing finger pointing because it works, or because it’s psychologically satisfying for the finger pointer? If the issue involved is truly important, doesn’t this then become an important question too?
I’m sure you will agree with none of this, and that’s ok, no problem. My goal is not to persuade of anything other than the assertion that if you hope to win over the undecided middle these are the kinds of questions that must be faced and addressed.
If the anti-abortion movement is not interested in winning over the undecided middle that would say to me that they are not really that serious about their own agenda, so I need not be either.
I think these are good questions to raise. I believe in a consistent pro-life ethic and long ago discovered that neither party and most politicians are not found to hold that same ethic.
I too ask myself what makes life a better choice in any given situation.
Making abortion illegal without addressing the huge social issues that have created an anti-life culture does nothing. Abortions still happen and babies as well as their mothers die.
In the same way banishing the death penalty does little to address the mass incarceration and injustice of the justice system. One might ask if it is better to die quickly or languish in a jail cell. If one is innocent or the victim of poor parenting and lack of social services, then the answer may be a toss up.
I choose to vote for the candidates that advocate for family wages, universal healthcare, strong public education, income equality etc. because these issues address underlying causes that promote an anti-life culture. I shudder when I hear “I am pro-choice” from someone who does not also advocate and actively work for the issues I have listed because in that case ‘pro-choice’ really means ‘pro-abortion’. Likewise when I hear someone say they are pro-life and they don’t also advocate for health and human services solutions then really they are just ‘anti-abortion’… but not ‘pro-life’.
As Feminists for Life points out often, women deserve the choices that that will help them, and their children, to thrive – not just survive. Too much of the conversation is about finger pointing, punishment and blame rather than compassion, concern and love.