Friday, January 19, 2018

When "Pro-Life" Christianity Becomes Death-Dealing: An Intra-Catholic Twitter Discussion on the Day of March for Life

The discussion that this tweet by Father James Martin has spawned is interesting — and revelatory, as a glimpse of some major fault lines in U.S. Catholic culture today, which are contributing to serious dysfunction in the culture at large. In response to Father Martin, a Catholic doctor in Pennsylvania, Tom Iarocci, tweets, 

And another tweeter, BernieorBust, adds,

As I say, this seems to me to be an important exchange, one that lays bare some of the fundamental challenges (and deep inconsistencies) in the Catholic "pro-life" movement. Iarocci's position (echoing Pope John Paul II) is that the right of the unborn to be born is fundamental to all other rights. It's the foundation of all other matters that have to do with the value of life.

Then, as Iarocci concludes, "You have to choose one." Which essentially means, "The right of the unborn trumps every other consideration about life," so that you can choose that one life value and ignore every other life value . . .

• You can choose that one foundational life value, and vote for people who rip healthcare coverage from poor mothers, endangering the lives of their unborn children, since it's essential for an expectant mother to have good healthcare if she's going to bear a healthy child . . .  
• You can choose that one foundational life value, and vote for people who take away legal protections for workers and enact tax structures that exploit working- and middle-class people to enrich the already rich, making the lives of working people more difficult as a result, so that the pressures to choose an abortion when someone can hardly feed the family she already has become much stronger . . . . 
• You can choose that one foundational life value and vote for people who deny women access to contraceptive coverage, causing them to have more unplanned pregnancies as a result, more unplanned pregnancies more likely to end in more abortions . . . .

"If you're gonna [sic] vote, you have to choose one" is hardly a tenable, sane, rational approach to these life issues, is it? — as plausible and logical as it may sound, as it mounts its my-foundation-trumps-all-other-foundations argument

When you consider the point that BernieorBust adds to this discussion, it becomes even more untenable: if we're going to play the you-have-to-choose-one game, how can we not choose protecting the very matrix (from Latin, mater), the very womb, from which all life springs — the environment, the ecological foundation of all life?

You simply cannot have that baby in the womb to choose as the sole, fundamental value that trumps all other life values, when you have no viable environment to sustain any kind of life at all, can you?

"You have to choose one," which sounds so plausible, so rational, so commonsensical, is ultimately a smug and very cruel approach to the nexus of life issues that have to count — all of them — if we're to be credible when we claim we're about serving the values of life. You cannot choose just one: you have to choose all of them, if any one of them — including the life of the child in the womb — is to count.

I'll say it again: in the formulation of right-wing evangelicals and right-wing Catholics, the "pro-life" movement has shown a demonic face to the world: while loudly proclaiming itself to be singularly pro-life, it has become, in fact, conspicuously anti-life. It has organized a voting bloc that votes for and empowers people who, as a matter of fact, work against a consistent ethic of respect for life in ways too numerous to count.

And the world is now in serious peril as a result of all of this death-dealing activity disguised as "pro-life" Christianity.

Please see this subsequent posting which is a continuation of the posting above.

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