The Great MAGA “Prolife” Sleight of Hand
Abby Johnson writes on Facebook:
Why is the prolife movement expected to pick up and take on every single societal ill that plagues us?? Homelessness, immigration issues, poverty, healthcare, war, death penalty…the list is endless. Why is no other group or movement expected to do this?
Why is no one upset at the American Cancer Society for ONLY focusing on cancer?? Why not diabetes, too??? Or hey, why is Habitat for Humanity only focused on housing??? Don’t they know people need clothing, as well?? Or even better, doesn’t Planned Parenthood know that women need housing, food, clothing, and things besides abortion and STD tests???
You see, these other groups are laser focused on their goals and that is why they are so effective…including Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood knows their product. It is abortion. They use ineffective birth control and STD testing to sell it. No one is more laser focused on selling their product and pushing their movement forward than Planned Parenthood. We could honestly take some lessons from them.
I personally have followed a whole life perspective since becoming prolife, but I recognize that the prolife movement should be about one thing and one thing alone…
Our movement is not responsible to cure every tragedy that burdens our society. There are many parts to the body of Christ. We are the part that fights against abortion and builds up women who choose life. When we get bogged down with all of these others issues that we aren’t responsible for, it weakens our message and gets us off task.
Do we care about other issues? Absolutely. Do I do work at the border and care about immigrants. You bet. Do I personally work with the homeless and provide aid to those who need help? Yep, as often as I can. Do I feel like that is part of my personal prolife mission? Yes, I do. But that is not part of our movement. Our movement is to end abortion.
We will be successful when we are directly focused on that ONE. MAIN. THING. Just like Planned Parenthood, we have a product to sell. It’s life and it’s life to the fullest. That’s the main thing.
Yeah. About that. Here’s reality: It would be great if the MAGA “prolife” cult actually focused on abortion. But here’s how it really works, Abby. You focus, not on defending the unborn, but on defending Trump and on defending his eugenics approach of abandoning the weak (including, by the way, pregnant mothers) to COVID. Remember?
Nor are you alone. The whole MAGA cult is 100% committed, not to focusing on abortion, but to focusing on attacking the Church whenever the Holy Father says anything they don’t want to hear. You remember?
I talk about this sleight of hand in The Church’s Best-Kept Secret:
The argument works, or seems to work, this way: Why should we spend time and energy on things like capital punishment or deportation or the fact that the United States is now a gigantic prison state when 1.5 million babies are dying each year? The same objection is typically advanced for nearly everything listed above. All these things are (goes the objection) “prudential judgments” and not gravely and intrinsically immoral as abortion is; therefore we can pass over them and, as the saying goes, “focus on abortion, which is non-negotiable.”
But the problem with this approach, as the language about “diluting the brand” hints, is that the Church’s teachings about these issues are not really passed over in favor of defending the unborn by those who use such language. On the contrary, the Church’s teachings are actively opposed by those who claim to, but do not, “focus on abortion.”
Here’s the deal: There is plenty of room in the Church’s tradition for specialization and focusing on specific issues, needs, and ills. Dominicans specialize in preaching. The Sisters of Providence specialize in healing and building hospitals. Jesuits found schools, and so forth. As Paul says, different members of the body do different things (see 1 Corinthians 12). So somebody who truly wants to focus on abortion and the protection of human life from conception to birth is perfectly free to do so.
But healthy members of the Body of Christ do not declare that other members “dilute the brand” by focusing on other issues or by caring about multiple issues at once. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21). Somebody who says “We need to address the sadistic cruelty being meted out to refugee children, snatched from their parents at the border and disappeared into a concentration camp system that cannot even figure out how to unite them with those parents again” is not “diluting the brand” of the Church’s teaching, nor “distracting” from abortion. They are simply being consistent about the Dignity of the Human Person from conception to natural death.
If your focus is on abortion, fine. Focus on it. But do not pretend to focus on it while actually spending your time and energy fighting against the Magisterium and in favor of capital punishment, fighting against Laudato Si’ and in favor of policies that harm the environment, fighting against a living wage and in favor of laissez faire capitalism (condemned since Rerum Novarum was written in the 1890s), fighting against a century’s worth of magisterial calls for universal health care and denouncing the Church as “socialist” to shout down that call. None of that is “focusing on abortion” and none of it is prudential judgment. It is weaponizing the unborn in order to fight the rest of the Church’s teaching by making the unborn the opposite of and competitor to all the human lives harmed and even killed by sins in these other areas.