Pro-Life vs. Anti-Abortion

I am re-posting this from my own blog @ danielgeorgecollins.wordpress.com

Today is the March For Life in Washington DC, so I thought that it might do well to take a look at the pro-life landscape for my first post. First of all, let me thank everyone who is defying the weather to make a stand for life, your witness continues to build year by year; and one can only hope that when we physically overrun DC with the sheer number of marchers, then the news media will finally take notice.

I have titled this piece Pro-Life vs Anti-Abortion, the distinction between these two terms is, I believe, the fulcrum upon which any hope for societal renewal is balanced. To begin at the beginning, we need a clear definition of terms. Anti-abortion is exactly what it says on the box: a single minded, not to say monomaniacal, opposition to the murder of children before they are born. Pro-Life means something totally different. Pro-Life encompasses not only abortion, but also euthanasia, the death penalty, and unjust war. But it also demands something more than just a bare minimum of life; it demands a respect for life that forbids the abuse of man, even where it maintains the actual flame of physical life. As such it is against torture and tyranny and penury. Yet, we still have not fully captured the meaning. That a man lives is good, but not good enough for one that is pro-life. That a man is not abused is good, but not good enough for one that is pro-life. The term in its third and deepest sense is actually not against anything at all, instead it is for the joy of mankind. It is for Christmas and May Poles, songs and dancing, festivals and fireworks, worship and first love, in short, everything that make life really worth living. The whole difference between the two can be stated in one sentence, Pro-Life is a creed while Anti-Abortion is a talking point.

Reader: All right, so the two things are different, so what? Surely, even someone who is only anti-abortion should be commended for it. Just because they do not necessarily believe in all of those other things, isn’t it enough that the want to protect unborn babies? After all, the pro-life position is just the anti-abortion position with more layers tacked on.

Author: I am afraid there is a problem my dear Reader. You see, there are two great issues to the monomania of the anti-abortion ideal, one affects the person himself, and the other affects society as a whole.

When a person focuses on abortion alone, disconnected to the other aspects of the Church’s teaching on life, there is a great risk of turning the commitment to ending abortion into and idol. Yes, good things can become idols when they eclipse everything else. The first sacrifice made to the god of the Abortion Fight is the truth. “When a person’s focus is so entirely bent on the ending of abortion, what does a little lie matter? The Church’s teaching on telling the truth never foresaw a time where we could score political points against PP with a little lie. And my favorite, if Nazis were at your door would you tell the truth about the Jews hiding in your attic?” Further more, the monomania can also leads anti-abortion advocates to demean and degrade the women who have had abortions. They forget that the dignity of human life extends beyond the womb, and reaches even so far as the poor women who have had abortions. There is no need to go deeper into these personal effects however. Other writers, far better the me, have dealt handily with them. I am more concerned with the effect this single mindedness has on society.

To see the nation wide effects of monomania it is only necessary to look at the presidential election of 2012. I was not engaged in any sort of writing at the time, but I was painfully aware of what was happening both in the blogosphere and social media. Once it was clear that Romney was the republican candidate, every pro-life person was charged to vote for him on pain of sin. The idea was that electing Mitt Romney was our greatest opportunity to defeat abortion, and any voice of dissent was shouted down as treason.

Now, I do not think that everyone who decided to vote for Romney was necessarily so obsessed with abortion as to sacrifice truth or the dignity of women. I do not even think that they disagreed with all, or in some cases most, of the deeper levels of the term pro-life. I only want to point out that a large number of people who call themselves pro-life were willing to elect a man committed to immoral, child killing, drone strikes, just because he flipped his position on abortion exactly when it was politically expedient to do so. And the Romney case was not a rare exception. The Pro-Life voting block will allow a candidate to kill or oppress as many people as he wants, so long as he gives lip service to being pro-life. In their bolder moments, they may demand that he actually appoint a judge or cast a vote to help the cause, but usually they merely walk away from November confident that this time the politician they elected will end abortion by the next March for Life.

It is be bad enough that the Anti-Abortion crowd are dupes, at least they are well meaning dupes. The really tragic thing about it it is that their strategy of backing the Anti-Abortion candidate come hell or high water actually hurts the fight to end abortion more than anything else. You see, we talk about the two political parties in this country, but what people seem to forget is that the parties are really coalitions. Two men may both be Republicans, but it is quite likely that they are Republicans for very different reasons. One may be a fiscal conservative and the other a supporter of policing the Middle East.

Now, the Republican coalition has the Anti-Abortion lobby as a section. It is a substantial section, not to be ignored, but it is not a controlling section of the party by any means. The only chance we have to create real legislative change to society is to create a new coalition.

Reader: Third Parties? You are out of your mind, everyone knows that third parties is where movements go to die.

Author: That is true, but do you know why?

Reader: Because the Republicans and Democrats are way to powerful.

Author: Exactly, but why?

Reader: Why?

Author: Because of what I just said. They are made up of coalitions from many different convictions. One lonely ideal can never hope to over come a machine comprise of dozens of different ideals.

So, what I propose is not break away from the Right and become our own separatist movement, but to build our own machine out of many different ideals. The aspects of the term Pro-Life that I listed above have an appeal to more than just Anti-Abortionists. It appeals to the working classes and the pacifists, humanitarians and humans. In fact the only type of people this coalition would not attract is those obsessed with power in private life or in public life, that is Misters Hudge and Gudge.

I do not pretend that this task will be easy or quick. But we have labored fruitlessly in the same rut for 41 years now. The only chance we have to really end abortion and heal society is by changing the rules of the game. And the first step is to prove to the nation that we will not bow down to any political master because he happens to give lip service to the anti-abortion cause. We are independent persons and we have the right to blaze out own path, and not be servants to wealthy bankers who have abused us a useful stooges for 41 years.

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