52 Authors: Week 31 - Newman
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Pro-Life vs. Anti-Abortion

I wrote about this some time ago (here) saying that I thought it had been a mistake for the movement against abortion to adopt the term "pro-life." Not that it's not accurate, and not that I don't understand the rationale for it. But it invites the response which it regularly gets: "You're not truly pro-life, because you don't support [some other cause] in addition to your own." The other causes can be anything that the speaker believes to be good for people, or for that matter for animals, or the entire planetary ecosystem. 

For reasons that are obscure to me, this tactic is used even by some people who are actually anti-abortion.  I can only conjecture that they are so repelled by the right-wing associations of the pro-life movement that they want to distance themselves from it. A few weeks ago, for instance, I saw a link to a piece by Catholic blogger Mark Shea that appeared to suggest that insufficient concern about gun violence disqualifies one from calling oneself pro-life. I say "appeared to suggest" because I didn't read more than a few sentences, Shea's signal-to-noise ratio having long since dipped below the level I'm prepared to deal with; the link appeared on my Facebook feed because someone I know had commented on it. Then a few days ago he pointed out that you aren't truly pro-life if you don't consider illegal immigrants to be human.

I dare say that almost all pro-lifers are opposed to the use of guns in settling disputes or committing crimes, and believe immigrants, legal or otherwise, to be human. But it doesn't matter. The tactic is so tempting that those who use it often don't even seem to care whether the charge is true. I.e., the thing they say pro-lifers should support (or oppose) is often something that many or most of them do in fact support (or oppose), although perhaps not embracing the specific solution proposed by the leftist who is the usual accuser. But it does seem to be an effective way of changing the subject,  at least for those who want to change it, and of putting the anti-abortion side on the defensive.

We've seen a lot of this in the past couple of weeks, following the release of videos showing Planned Parenthood employees discussing in grisly detail their harvesting of organs from aborted babies. Hardly had the videos appeared than the "But you're not really pro-life because..." talk began, including quotes from Joan Chittister, whose identification as a "Catholic nun" always becomes worthy of respect when she's criticizing conservatives.

But these considerations are perhaps moot. Some of the reactions I've heard from the pro-Planned-Parenthood side have made it clear that although the "not really pro-life" feint is useful, nothing, except perhaps the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, would make the persons involved reconsider. That is, if every pro-lifer were uniformly "pro-life" as defined by the left, it would not make the latter one bit more open to the arguments against abortion.

I've been appalled by one woman I've encountered on Facebook. She's personally unknown to me, being the Facebook friend of one of the people who are "friends" with me due to some mutual friend, but whom I don't actually know. The friend posts frequently in support of the exposure of Planned Parenthood's barbarism, and this woman responds with an unreasoning fury that's really pretty disturbing. She wants the people who made the videos to be jailed. I wonder what she would say if someone had surreptitiously taped someone making racist remarks. There is some serious evil abroad in our land.


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And this is why I have quit Facebook. As you say, the signal-to-noise ratio is way below anything that's beneficial to me at this point. Cat videos notwithstanding....

I haven't quit Facebook, I've just un-followed almost everybody.

Nobody here, though.


I wonder if someone could develop an app that could filter out all but cat videos from your news feed. I quit FB because it has become depressing. It is supposed to be kind of a fun place, or so I thought.

I get the occasional jolt of irritation, as with the woman I mentioned here, sometimes from people I actually know. But for me more than anything it's a time-waster, entertaining and fairly harmless apart from that.

I kept getting post after post about same sec marriage and planned parenthood videos. I didn't want any more

I get those, too, but I also get at least as many of the opposing view. In that respect my Facebook feed is actually less depressing than looking at the "news". I tend to go to Google News, which is supposedly just a reflection of which news sites are being read the most, and it's a lot more uniformly liberal-conventional than my Facebook feed.

It was depressing no matter what side the post was on. Also, I got tired of overlays wars.

I don't usually do anything serious on Facebook, because I just don't think it's the proper venue for it. But recently I was wondering if I should share a couple of things so that a couple of people would see them. So, I shared Jen Fulwiler's post about why her support for abortion was based on love. I really liked it because it's calm and reasonable. I also shared a chart from Democrats for Life--specifically because it was Democrats. But really, I don't think I will again.

I'm serious, Robert, about just not following people who post tons of that stuff. It makes the newsfeed so much nicer.


I'm pretty much the same. Now and then I post something serious but generally I avoid it. I read that Fulwiler piece btw--it is good.

It's volume that has caused me to block a couple of people. One was someone who posted almost nothing but pictures of dogs and cats who needed homes. Nothing wrong with that, but it was a dozen or two a day. The other was someone who posted outraged left-wing "memes" at the same rate and the same lack of variety. Between the two of them they pretty much monopolized the feed. I have other friends who post those, but not in such quantity, and they also post things that are interesting.

I have questioned whether or not, in the face of the serious evil, I am somehow obliged to post more serious stuff. If I thought it would help in any way, I would, although it would be miserable. I'm not sure though, that it has any value whatsoever.


I have the same internal debate and the same conclusion.

One can find cat videos on youtube.

I don't know if it is pure cowardice not I do not wish to make myself unbearable to my non Catholic friends

So here's a great Fb headline, "New Hampshire Cancels $650,000 in Planned Parenthood Funding After It Sells Aborted Babies"

I had no idea New Hampshire was selling aborted babies.


State budgets are tight these days. Maybe it was either that or casinos.

Same here, Grumpy. And if you want and hope to change someone's mind, having an angry argument is probably not going to do it.

I just realized I'm missing the GOP debate. I'm always glad I don't have TV. Tonight I'm ecstatic.


There is a debate?

In other news, I think I just seriously pissed off somebody on Facebook. Better listen to my own advice.

In reading about this the other day, I was reminded that it was a Catholic, Ted Kennedy, who wrote the law in 1993 that lifted the ban on using tissue from aborted babies. That led me to an article in the Wall Street Journal, "How Support for Abortion Became Kennedy Dogma," which includes this information:

At a meeting at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on a hot summer day in 1964, the Kennedy family and its advisers and allies were coached by leading theologians and Catholic college professors on how to accept and promote abortion with a "clear conscience."

The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, recalls the meeting in his book "The Birth of Bioethics" (Oxford, 2003). He writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion.

Words fail.


Or in this case, clerics.

I read somewhere the other day that one of the ex-Jesuits, not one of those you name, who was well-known 30 years ago as an apologist for abortion...can't come up with his name right now, one of you can probably supply it...has now openly left the Church. In a way that's an improvement.





Apropos of nothing (maybe that the debate was well-skipped): “I think almost all the crimes which Christians have perpetrated against each other arise from this, that religion is confused with politics. For, above all other spheres of human life, the Devil claims politics for his own, as almost the citadel of his power.” C.S. Lewis. Letter to Don Giovanni Calabria, Aug. 10, 1953.

Is that the Italian priest Lewis corresponded with?

Of all the ignorant cliches that anti-Christian people come up with, I think the one that vexes me most is the one that goes something like "History tells us that religion has been the cause of most wars." Where does one even start?!? If there is one constant in history, it's wars fought for extremely down-to-earth reasons, such as wanting to take what somebody else has.

St. Giovanni Clabria. ;-)


Yep, same person discussed in this article. Didn't notice or remember that he was canonized.

Here's a good piece by David Mills on the same general theme as this post.

“I think almost all the crimes which Christians have perpetrated against each other arise from this, that religion is confused with politics."


Looks interesting, though not $53 worth of interesting.:-)

A few days after 9/11 I heard somebody on NPR saying that it made her want to rid the world of religion, or something to that effect. I suppose that can be forgiven in light of what had just happened, but still, you have to be pretty obtuse to think that the world would be at peace if she got her wish.

No religion makes its practitioners instantaneous saints. Human beings are prone to war. Religious people will use their religion as an excuse for war.

We will also use the need for water as the reason for war. Shall we abolish water, since it causes war?

Same goes for sea ports. Let's abolish sea ports because people fight over them.

Love and sex. They don't usually cause wars, but probably at any moment someone somewhere on this planet is being killed or is about to be killed for love.

"Looks interesting, though not $53 worth of interesting.:-)"

Yeah, I found mine on bookfinder.com for about $30.

Facebook can be hard to take and I've found myself "hiding" people through the years because their posts depress me. The most recent is a friend that has felt the need to vigorously defend the confederate flag seemingly every day since the South Carolina tragedy and its aftermath. This is not a slobbering redneck, but a Theology professor!!

I've seen a fair amount of rednecks in my life. I'm trying to remember if I've ever seen one slobbering.


"In other news, I think I just seriously pissed off somebody on Facebook. Better listen to my own advice."

Sorry to hear it. But some people will be "offended" no matter what.

That's probably why I fundamentally no longer care about anyone else's outrage, especially when it's fake.

As for the Anti-Abortion slur, as in, "You're not pro-life, you're just anti-abortion" well, I consider it a *compliment* to be anti-abortion, so...

I mean, who would feel insulted if someone said "you're just anti-murder"?

I have come to the sad conclusion that most people are just "full of it." No-one here, of course.

I was thinking about that theology prof the other day when we were talking about the predominance of left-liberalism in education, EG (though I didn't know about the Confederate flag enthusiasm). There are definitely some mavericks out there--he's actually one of two dogmatically libertarian profs of whom I'm aware (not at the same school). The other is in econ, which is not quite as odd as theology.

"....who would feel insulted if someone said "you're just anti-murder"? Right. Like I said, I understand and agree with the rationale for saying "pro-life", but I think it's been a tactical mistake.

Well Mac, you do have to admire people who really are their own category!

That one certainly is. Not many people are equally vocal about gun rights, the Confederate flag, and liberal-progressive theology.

"I understand and agree with the rationale for saying "pro-life", but I think it's been a tactical mistake."

Me too, really.

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