Answering a Recurring Question/Accusation

A reader writes:

“Mark, I ask you this with all due respect. Are you really suggesting that the Pro Life movement did the wrong thing in fighting to get Roe overturned?”

I appreciate the courtesy of this question. As I will discuss in a moment, not every reader is courteous, or even bothers to ask. They go straight to accusing.

In answer, I reply: No. I am saying, not suggesting, that in selling its soul to the MAGA cult, the prolife movement turned itself into a monomaniac heresy at war with almost the entire social teaching of the Church and using the unborn as human shields for all that. As a result, they are now committed to a policy agenda that puts enormous pressure on the poor to abort. That’s why abortion rates rose 8% under Trump, reversing a 30 year decline that saw the greatest drop under the hated Clinton and the lowest point under the hated Obama/Biden–and they don’t care one bit.

The research points to the fact that outlawing abortion (as 13% of Americans want) does not reduce abortion, but that it does sharply increase maternal mortality rates.

If we want actual results and not mere empty culture war gestures, what we should be focusing on is reducing demand rather than killing more women while doing nothing to save the unborn.

In sum, the problem is that, with the honorable exception of Consistent Life Ethic people, the bulk of the now nearly totally MAGAfied “prolife” movement is not about defending the unborn, but about using the unborn as human shields for a GOP crime syndicate devoted to greed, cruelty, selfishness, and nihilist power.

That is what I oppose, not being prolife.

Indeed, I have always been prolife. Always. Long before I was Christian or Catholic, I opposed abortion. Becoming Christian and, again, Catholic only reinforced that. It seems to me obvious that one implication of the words, “He was conceived by the Holy Spirit” is that when God became human, he hallowed human life from the moment of conception. I agree wholeheartedly with Pope Francis:

“Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world’s rejection.”

Nothing in that view has changed in the slightest. But because I am morally convinced that the MAGA Cult will do nothing for the unborn and will instead use them as human shields to inflict grave harm on women, I am now commonly slandered by the People of the Lie in the MAGA “prolife” cult who, like their orange god, think nothing of practicing the politics of personal destruction and lies in order to achieve their ends.

Here, for instance, is a far more typical expression of the life-loving Christian love of the MAGA cultist from my mailbox:

Gonna keep hiding comments that call you out for being a pro-abort, you fat slob? Fine. Enjoy your hug box. You’ll need it as you stumble towards Hell.

The tactic of the Righteous Destroyers is to call me (as I was called just the other day), a “stinking liar” because I said that the GOP, and most especially Trump, had no interest in or intention of overturning Roe. I based that on fifty years of the GOP, and most especially Trump, demonstrating no interest in or intention of overturning Roe (given that they are 100% responsible for the creation of our abortion regime and exploited their base all that time by harvesting support for all their real policy interests while delivering nothing but participation trophies).

And indeed, Trump has made clear that he himself is shocked by and extremely worried about the people he clearly sees as extremist religious weirdos turning the GOP into the dog that caught the car. He knows how galvanizing this pyrrhic victory will be because even he, dumb as he is, has the animal cunning to see further than his blind, vindictive conservative MAGA antichrist religion base. He reflects the cynical consensus of the GOP leadership for the past fifty years and I was not and am not wrong to say “They never meant it to come to this.”

So when people write, as a reader did yesterday, to say:

Your prior moral certainty on this topic was that Roe would never be overturned. You didn’t hedge. You were certain.

This certainty colored your assessment of the folks on the pro-life side. They were rubes, they were suckers, they were hopeless idealists who couldn’t see cold hard reality like you could. Others (GOP politicians in particular, vile reprobates like Donald Trump) knew that Roe couldn’t be overturned and wouldn’t try and were cynically exploiting the naive but good people.

You were certain. You were wrong.

Your best move now is to examine what brought you to this point: What did you assume to be true that turned out not to be true?

I answer that I am happy to comply. Where I erred was in making the mistake of forgetting that the GOP justices, like Trump, are liars. So when they lied that “Roe was settled law” I took them at their word and assumed they would focus their energies on enacting the policies the GOP actually cares about while ignoring Roe, as the GOP had done for fifty years. That was indeed a blunder on my part, not a lie. The lies was on the part of the GOP justices. But since it characteristic of the MAGA cult to use accusation as a form of confession, I am not terribly surprised that the cult blames me for believing the lies of the GOP justices rather than blaming the justices who told the lie that they viewed Roe as “settled law” in order to get their seats. The more fool I.

What I failed to see was that Roe is the first, but by no means the last, shot fired in a campaign against the 14th Amendment that means to go far beyond abortion. It remains the case that the far right has no real interest in the unborn, except as human shields for that. But the monomaniac heresy that is the MAGA “prolife” movement is blind to all that. And one small hopeful sign is that some, at least, appear to be figuring that out.

So, for instance, another person who frequently targeted for such personal destruction–to the point where the Cult has physically threatened his family in their super prolifey zeal is David French. He has the number of the MAGA “prolife” cult and writes in his Dispatch Roe is reversed and the Right isn’t ready: A movement animated by rage and fear isn’t ready to embrace life and love.” After praising the fall of Roe, he gets down to reality:

But that’s not the end of the story. Not by a long shot. The two sides of the great American divide are now staring at each other and asking, “Now what?” The answer from pro-life America should be clear and resounding—the commitment to life carries with it a commitment to love, to care for the most vulnerable members of society, both mother and child.

But life and love are countercultural on too many parts of the right. In a time of hate and death, too many members of pro-life America are contributing to both phenomena. Is that too much to say? Is that too strong? I don’t think so.

In deep-red America, a wave of performative and punitive legislation is sweeping the land. In the abortion context, bounty-hunting laws in Texas, Idaho, and Oklahoma turn citizens against each other, incentivizing lawsuits even by people who haven’t been harmed by abortion. The pro-life movement, once solidly against prosecuting women who obtain abortions, is now split by an “abolitionist” wing that would not only impose criminal penalties on mothers, it even calls into questions legal protections for the life of the mother when a pregnancy is physically perilous. 

The culture of political engagement centers around animosity. Church and family life is being transformed, congregation by congregation, household by household, by argument and division. The Dobbs ruling has landed in the midst of a sick culture, and the pro-life right is helping make it sick.

Writing in the New York Times, Ross Douthat rightly cautioned that “the vicissitudes of politics and its own compromises have linked the anti-abortion cause to various toxic forces on the right — some libertine and hyperindividualist, others simply hostile to synthesis, conciliation and majoritarian politics.” That’s true, but it doesn’t go far enough. The vicissitudes of politics haven’t just linked the anti-abortion cause to various toxic forces on the right, they’ve transformed parts of the anti-abortion movement, making many of its members as toxic as their “libertine and hyperindividualist” allies. 

He continues:

[T]he Republican branch of the American church is adopting the political culture of the secular right. With a few notable exceptions, it not only didn’t resist the hatred and fury of the MAGA movement, it was the MAGA movement. And this is the culture that’s going to lead the effort to heal our nation, love the marginalized, and ask young women to face an uncertain future and endure a physical ordeal for the sake of sacrificial love?

This brings me to a vital last point. It is a simple truth that when it comes to moral leadership, actions speak so much louder than words. That’s a truth that’s been instilled in me since my youth. Walk your talk. 

And yet. Consider the last two years. 

We are slowly but surely emerging from a deadly pandemic. It’s not that the disease has disappeared. Far from it. But the combination of mutations, vaccinations, and prior infections is making it far less deadly. Yet at every point in the pandemic, it was pro-life red America that loudly declared its bodily autonomy, disproportionately shunned even the slight inconvenience of a mask before the vaccine, and then disproportionately rejected the vaccine when it miraculously appeared mere months after the pandemic began.

Parts of pro-life red America moved from skepticism to outright defiance. “How dare you tell me what to do. This is my decision between me and my doctor.” They trafficked in pseudo-science and bizarre conspiracy theories. The cost was staggering. It was horrifying. Look at this chart, from the Brown School of Public Health:

When I bring this up, people get furious. The conventional wisdom on the right has hardened into adamantium. If you condemn the anti-vaxx movement, then you’re an elitist. You hate anti-vaxxers. How dare you question their decisions? Everyone knows the real cultural tragedy of the pandemic was the way the terrible blue states imposed extended lockdowns and kept schools closed too long.

To criticize the anti-vaxx movement isn’t to hate or look down on its members any more than criticizing the pro-choice movement means hating or looking down on its members. Strong disagreement isn’t hatred, even when you believe the contrary position contains grave moral flaws. 

I also can agree that blue state restrictions went too far, but I cannot get that staggering death toll out of my head. And that’s not a random 319,000 people, it’s 319,000 of our most vulnerable citizens. The elderly. The infirm. People with immune disorders. 

In the face of that wave of death, a wave of death created by a staggering amount of Christian fear, disinformation, and defiance—millions of the same people who created that culture now loudly demand that other people sacrifice for life. 

It’s time for another caveat. When we talk about national movements, we invariably talk about generalities. Huge movements are made up of millions of people, and many of those millions have gone above and beyond the call of duty. They’ve spent their lives sacrificing for others, in ways large and small. They resist the hatred of the times, and even though I might disagree with some of their votes, they put me to shame in their service for others. 

But the sad reality remains: When American culture burned with partisan hatred, all too many institutions of the American church fueled the fire. They fuel the fire to this day. There is a cost to this combat, and that cost is born in our ability to reach out to people outside our tribe and to have people believe us when we say that we care for them, that we want to see them flourish, and that we love their families—both red and blue. 

So I was refreshed by the letter of common courtesy that sought to find out my views rather then simply tell me what they are or, worse, smear me with lies behind my back as is now far too often the practice of the Righteous. And I am morally certain that what French describes will be the norm of a spiteful and misogynous MAGA cult drunk on victory and ready, not to help the unborn or care about anybody but themselves, but to enact draconian punishments on those they hate. The Consistent Life Ethic is the despised minority view of the now-ascendant MAGA “prolife” movement. Abby Johnson, not “Love them both” is the dominant view of the Cult:

And that is why I am accused of “supporting abortion” by that Cult, despite the fact that I am now and always have been prolife.

More tomorrow on some of the rhetoric being deployed by the MAGA “prolife” cult and what it reveals about the coming disaster the GOP means to preside over with the blessing of that Cult.


32 Responses

  1. At some point,Mark, I have to admit that I stopped reading your blog and twitter. At some point recently, I realized that I cannot disagree with your carefully thoughtful logic in exposing the danger of accepting the MAGA world view. A voice crying in the wilderness. Well done.

  2. Mark, I think you don’t give enough credence to the marriage the pro-life conservatives felt like they had to make within the Republican party with the corporate capitalist types to win elections. Its always been an absurd marriage, but the accusation that pro-lifers are only until the baby is born, is just not true, most pro-life conservatives that I know are the first to give you the shirt off their back, but they had to make concessions within a two party system to win, which I’ll acknowledge has worked out badly for them at times. But this is no different than what you have to do all the time within the Democrat party, I doubt very highly that you agree with Biden, that, “transgender rights is the civil rights issue of our time” that’s an absurd statement, but I don’t try and be a mind reader and understand why you accept those contradictions, you have your reasons, and its only a two party system, there’s no chance anyone is going to agree with everything within a party.

    1. For the MAGA, it is absolutely true and they have proven it again and again. I acknowledge the existence of the Consistent Life Ethic minority, given that this is my position and I am not alone. But it is a minority position and we are deeply hated–by the MAGA majority. Instead of whining “Not all prolifers” face the fact the the movement is dominate by profoundly selfish and cruel people who cannot wait to (as they have already done) jail miscarrying and post-abortive women or (if Abby Johnson gets her way) try and punish them for murder. Given that the Cult loves the death penalty, you do the math.

    2. I’m not trying to whine about it, and I don’t feel comfortable with the marriage that I spelled out, its ridiculous, and won’t work in the long run, and I’m not saying, “both sides are bad”, because I see where people try to weigh the scales in good faith, but I’m pretty far from agreement with democrats either, I’ve made peace with being politically homeless, its just where things are right now

      1. The problem we face is fairly simple. The GOP is now the gravest organized domestic terror syndicate since the Confederate States of America. They represent a clear and present danger to our entire country and are fighting, even now, to destroy our democracy and institute deadly, police state, authoritarian rule that will ultimately be a threat to all life on the planet (given the awesome power of the military they will control if they get it). You can face that fact and get on board supporting the only conceivable party that can defeat them or you can quibble about Dems not being 100% perfect and lose the United States for good as anything but a shell corporation for a pack of fascist mobsters. Vote Dem at every level–local, state, and federal–or forget forever living in a country that is about anything but raw, lawless, authoritarian, racist, Mammon-worshipping, lying, godless Right Wing power.

      2. I completely understand “politically homeless”. I wondered yesterday, and assert here today, that you may well be right that pro-life people would all give the shirt off their backs to help people (as you say above). Where in the public sphere do we see that actually happening? I’m not cracking wise, I genuinely want to know.

        Where is the generous energy you mention at work helping people? If it’s all done is secret — why?

      3. I don’t feel comfortable with the marriage that I spelled out, its ridiculous, and won’t work in the long run

        That’s the weakness with the marriage analogy. In politics, there is no long run. As important as politics for good order and policy, it is all downstream from Ultimate Reality.

  3. When I was a teenager in the early 80s, I was introduced to the issue of abortion. I could see my way clear to opposing it, but it was clear to me that the politicians and the loudmouths on both sides of the issue weren’t really interested in working for consensus. It’s interesting that so little has changed since my eighth grade self first learned about the issue.

    Now, I am married and have two lovely adult sons. What I saw from teenage years until now is this. There is no real support for women and children over the long term.

    I have watched politicians who support ending abortion, but then cut aid to children and women who don’t follow the moral rules. As a teacher, I have seen hunger, and all kinds of physical needs of children not being met. I have seen states that have made such a show of restricting and outlawing abortion, then cut Early Intervention funding or make parents of children with autism pay for services themselves, which basically means forgoing them for poor people.

    It gets better. With piss poor education outcomes for special needs students being the rule rather than the exception, that means that such people need supports and services over their lifespan. God forbid though, that any state actually adequately fund and support our most vulnerable people. It’s not just about getting a child born. It’s taking care of them until and if they can take care of themselves.

    I have been so disappointed with fellow Catholics who echo libertarian beliefs and rugged individualism. The same people complain about welfare or WIC. They begrudge anything to those in need, children, the disabled, the elderly, the poor, the sick, anyone who is vulnerable. They oppose taxes, regulation, any positive obligation required by justice to such people. They talk of private charity, but God forbid they have to give beyond their leftovers, undesired things, broken items that in their view recipients should be grateful for. I see enough of this in my workplace serving adults with developmental disabilities. You should try playing with used, broken games missing parts.

    If people actually cared, our society would have the kinds of supports already in place to really be pro-life. We can’t get health care recognized as the human right it is. There is no consistent national parental leave policies, maternity/paternity leave for starters. No politician who opposes abortion seems to support these things, never mind a majority. I can tell you this. As a parent of a child in the vulnerable group needing supports and services across the lifespan, the states in these United States that I can’t imagine living in very nearly outnumber the ones I can. Two states, both led by self-identified Catholics, Texas and Florida, are prime examples of what I mean. What really sucks is that both these states have people just like me living there, facing the same issues, hopes and fears, with far less support. In 50 years, all we really have to show for pro-life is paltry legalism. Such empty, hollow celebration. No wonder people are so frustrated and angry.

  4. Direct quote from the Dobb’s dissent

    “…Mississippi’s own record illustrates how little facts on the ground have changed since Roe and Casey, notwithstanding the majority’s supposed “modern developments.”Ante, at 33. Sixty-two percent of pregnancies in Mississippi are un-planned, yet Mississippi does not require insurance to cover contraceptives and prohibits educators from demonstrating proper contraceptive use.19 The State neither bans pregnancy discrimination nor requires provision of paid parental leave. Brief for Yale Law School Information Society Project as Amicus Curie 13 (Brief for Yale Law School); Brief for National Women’s Law Center et al. as Amici Curide 32. It has strict eligibility requirements for Medicaid and nutrition assistance, leaving many women and families without basic medical care or enough food. See Brief for 547 Deans,Chairs, Scholars and Public Health Professionals et al. as Amici Curiae 32-34 (Brief for 547 Deans). Although 86 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in the State are due to postpartum complications, Mississippi rejected federal funding to provide a year’s worth of Medicaid coverage to women after giving birth. See Brief for Yale Law School 12-13. Perhaps unsurprisingly, health outcomes in Mississippi are abysmal for both women and children….”

    That is the reality of the pro-life del with the devil. This is a direct consequence of the pr-life movement signing on to the Republican Party’s broader agenda.

    Even though Mississippi has horrifically high rates of maternal mortality, Republican lawmakers *refused* federal funds to provide mothers with a year of Medicaid coverage after giving birth. So new moms get kicked off after Medicaid after two months.

    The states with the most generous, comprehensive health care and social services for new mothers and babies are almost all blue states that also provide abortion access.

    The states that kick new moms off Medicaid and deny them social services? Red states that ban abortion.

    Will red states will reverse their anti-parent, anti-child policies now that they can ban abortion?. All evidence suggests that these states will continue to punish new mothers and babies with horrifically cruel policies designed to make them suffer and starve

    The same politicians who want to ban abortion also want to obliterate the social safety net. Being anti-abortion all but guarantees you are anti-welfare, too. Pro-life activists are not, by any means, lobbying Republicans for more generous state benefits to new moms and babies! They are not putting any meaningful political pressure on the GOP to expand welfare!

    There were always opportunities even before Roe to help mothers and children. The pro-life people di nada, zilch, zero to pressure the Republicans to work across the aisle and pass them.

    In places like Mississippi and Alabama,(and other Red states where they have fun power ) they could have done this with without any support from Democrats. Still did not happen. The whole thing that this will change is a fantasy!

    Because it will cost money. And that means taxes, which upset their real masters, the rich.

  5. @Mark Shea
    Have you looked into the other rulings apart by the current Supreme Court apart from Dobbs, which have been quite disastrous for the country at large? The recent rulings on guns and the right to an appeal come to mind.

  6. Speaking to Crux about the decision, Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said, “The killing of an innocent human being can never be considered a ‘right.’”

    “This goes for abortion, it goes for war, it goes for the death penalty and for the selling and use of arms. Our society – as a whole, not just the West – must outlaw murder in all its forms,” he said.

    You know, in case someone really wants to know what a Consistent Life Ethic is. Either that, or you can let your soul be polluted by a US political party of your choice.

  7. I am sorry to hear that you are being accused of not being pro-life. You can make much of that go away by writing something like this, which I believe is consistent with your writing on this topic:

    “The Catholic Church teaches that abortion must be made illegal. Roe prevented this. The end of Roe brings us one step closer to accomplishing what the Church teaches must happen, and therefore it is good.”

    “However, criminal prohibition, if not done carefully and compassionately in line with all other Church teaching, will be cruel and counterproductive. Indeed, cruel laws that will accomplish nothing have been proposed. I will oppose such laws. But just laws that prohibit abortion are possible. The Church is not wrong when she demands prohibition. When I see a just law proposed, I will support it.”

    That will do it. Because right now your position is indistinguishable from Catholics for Choice. It is a pro-choice stance. You are pro-choice. And quite radically so: you have refused to endorse any prohibitions on abortion, even the first-trimester limit that is the default in post-Christian Europe. If the EU prohibits abortion more than you would, “Consistent Life Ethic” is a sham

    1. @Toonma:

      I’ve told Mark on a previous post something to the same effect; that his stance is a pro-choice stance, indistinguishable from Catholics for Choice, a group he once derided not that long ago. Now, I’m pro-choice myself, so I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but I do think he’s being somewhat inconsistent and unclear on that front.

      He didn’t reply, or if he did, he didn’t address that issue, so I figured he’s still working through it. Thus, I didn’t see it worthwhile to further press him on that at that time.

      As to what restrictions on abortions I would find reasonable, I’d say a stronger enforcement of post-viability restrictions, where they stop conflating emotional and financial reasons with “life and health”, seems like a fair application of the standards that had been set forth.

      I felt comfortable with viability being set as a cut-off point because there was a rationale behind it, instead of some arbitrary number of weeks. However, I also considered “viability” to be a moving target in its own way; meaning that if our technology and medical knowledge made it possible for premature births to survive and thrive at an earlier date, then it seems reasonable for the cut-off period for when we allow abortions to shift accordingly.

      If the standard had shifted to a lower number of weeks, then I would prefer if there was a reasonable rationale for the new standard, as well as a reasonable application of such standard. For example, if you’re going to establish a cut-off period at X weeks, the the government should not be allowed to put up so much bureaucratic red tape and procedural loops, that make it significantly difficult for anyone to get an abortion before then.

      In short, I would prefer to see a fair application of the intent of behind the standards get implemented, at both ends of the equation, instead of both sides continuously trying to find legal loopholes to get around what was intended.

      But instead of some kind of reasonable and measured response, what we got from the Supreme Court was basically: “Screw it; we got the numbers and we didn’t like all those other rights that were contingent on the right to privacy anyways, so suck it up!”

      At this point, there’s not even the pretense that they’re anything more than self-serving, politically motivated hacks.

    2. I already replied to you evil cult’s selfish calls for sadism to the vulnerable here:

      One text to which the nuts in the Cult of Vengeance are appealing to a lot is this passage from the Catechism:

      2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

      “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”

      “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”

      The MAGA “prolife” Cult, being sure they know what is right, are certain they know that “appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights” has to mean their menu of draconian punishments for those they have decided need to get it in the neck: post-abortive women and their medical staff. That’s where they want to direct the vengeance and violence because, like the men who wanted to stone the woman taken in adultery, the furthest thing from their minds is their own sin. They want scapegoats and they want them now.

      But let me suggest an entirely different way of reading this guidance from the Church that has never once entered the heads of the MAGA Cult. Given that nobody has an abortion for fun and that the #1 abortifacient in the US is poverty, suppose we apply the Church’s guidance this way:

      Every time a “prolife” politician battles to deny families a living wage, imprison them for as long as they want to imprison women driven by poverty to abort.
      Every time a “prolife” politician votes to cut food benefits for poor families, jail them.
      Every time a “prolife” politician votes to deny poor families baby formula, or destroys food benefits, or loots health care in order to build a completely unnecessary bomber, punish them as they want so badly to punish somebody else for caving into the economic pressure he put on her to abort.
      Every time a deadbeat father refuses to help a mother, jail him and confiscate his money and give it to mom.
      Every corporation (like Walmart) that refuses to pay a just wage and tells its workers to go on welfare should face severe penalties and confiscation of wealth to support families.
      Any corp that gouges struggling families for baby-food: send the CEO to jail.
      In short, if you are a Catholic lusting to punish somebody with “appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights” then start by punishing all the powerful (including yourself) who create the demand for abortions with support for sadistic policies that make it harder and harder to create and rear families rather than just lazily focusing your self-righteous wrath on your traditional targets of poor and brown women. Until you have thoroughly repented your own complicity in creating and maintaining the poverty-driven abortion-industrial complex that your own choices have sustained, you have no right to cast the first stone. Discipleship to Jesus is about helping others and controlling yourself, not about helping yourself and controlling others.

      We need to ask ourselves as Catholics: Do we just care about performative piety that makes everything worse or about actually saving lives by living generous and sacrificial lives like Jesus Christ?

      1. @Mark Shea:

        I’ll admit I smiled as I was reading your reply, and even teared up a little. I thought it was a very Catholic response from you, and I do mean that as a sincere compliment.

        Because that is the question that often gets ignored: who has the actual power? Who is actually benefitting from abortion? Its certainly not the women; for whom at best, you could describe it as trying to avoid making a bad situation worse. And its certainly not the providers, given how it is a thankless task that often puts their lives at risk.

        But those who need political scapegoats for their failed policies? Those who don’t want additional government spending to potentially raise the corporate tax rate? They’re perfectly fine with it.

        Anyways, I saw this clip a while back that echoed a similar sentiment from a progressive perspective that I don’t think I’d shared before:
        Krystal Ball Exposes LIES at the Heart Of Roe v Wade Debate

  8. Not that he needs my defense, but calling this man “Pro-choice, and radically so” is ridiculous. Did you miss the post where he described his life-long conviction of the sanctity of life from the moment of conception?

    Or does he just not check your boxes because he won’t throw in with particular political positions?

    1. @ Elisabeth

      The meaning of ”pro-life” has traditionally included being against the legality of abortion. This may be a position of one or more political parties you may or may not like. It’s also possible that you want to change the content of what ”pro-life” means. After all, they are both well chosen names. Who’s really against life and choice, right?

      None of that matters. The Catholic Church teaches that a politically active Catholic (in a democracy, that includes all citizens) should be against legal abortion. I don’t think I need to explain what moral implication this has/ doesn’t have for his or her voting pattern or political career.

      1. RE: changing the content of what “pro-life” means

        I can think of several recent contentious debates in which one side sought to change the definition of a commonly understood term: “Racism” (to add a power requirement) “marriage” (to include same-sex relationships) “woman” (to include certain males), and now “pro-life” (to require endorsement of Roe v. Wade).

        I do think “avoid being on the side that attempts to win the debate by changing definitions” is a good heuristic for choosing a side in a debate, but I wonder to what extent I have a blind spot and cannot see the abuse of language in my own positions. Is everyone doing this?

      2. The term “pro-life” is a tag, a brand a short-hand if you will, and it is good to accept the meaning at face value given by people in the movement who say “I am pro-life.” And that is generally that they are against abortion.

        If I go up to a nice person at a BLM rally and say to him “Why aren’t you protesting the little black girl shot by a gang in the ghetto last weekend?” then he’ll take me aside and say “Look, buddy, you’re a nice guy and everything, but our movement is about injustices committed against us by white cops, OK? It’s about the white power structure, ok?” To which I would reply “Yes, ok, thank you.”

        Then I should accept that is what the tag “BLM” is about, not about what I might think it should be about. And they can call it whatever they want to, and other people can argue the meaning but that that is always an exercise in hyper-intellectualism rather than political activism.

    2. Suppose I say: “I believe in the sanctity of life, even for those who commit heinous crimes. Capital punishment is a moral travesty and involves killing the face of Jesus Christ that is on every person. But a court decision that prohibits capital punishment is terrible and the people trying to get rid of capital punishment are racist fascist cultists.”

      You’d say that I’m in favor of capital punishment, no?

      That’s where Mark is. He’s personally pro-life. It’s the standard Mario Cuomo position: abortion is immoral and he’ll try to reduce the demand for it but he doesn’t want it to be prohibited by criminal law in any amount.

      Mark could prove me wrong in an instant. Watch his response carefully.

    3. @Elisabeth

      The average position of European countries, which are generally more socially liberal than the United States, is that abortion should be legal only through the first trimester. That’s an average, so some are looser and some are stricter, and most countries have the standard exceptions for unusual and morally difficult cases.

      The abortion regime imposed on the United States by Roe/Casey prevented European-style abortion restrictions. Those cases made the United States an outlier in the West. (The Mississippi law at issue in Dobbs banned abortion at 15 weeks. France bans abortion at 14 weeks). So merely endorsing the status quo for abortion law in the United States is radically pro-choice, relative to the rest of the West. (In an analogous way, endorsing the status quo of capital punishment in the United States is a radical position relative to the rest of the West).

      Ever since the Dobbs draft was leaked, I have invited Mark to say if there are any legal restrictions on abortion that he would support, given that the Catholic Church teaches that abortion must be restricted by criminal law. He does not answer that question. His response is (i) focus on reducing demand; (ii) abortion restrictions don’t work; (iii) the anti-abortion laws being proposed are the work of cruel sadists; and (iv) MAGA cult. He could shut me up in a second by giving me a general outline of an abortion restriction that he could support, but he has not done so.

      I have no doubt that Mark would try to dissuade pregnant friends and family members from aborting. He regards abortion as a moral evil. He is not pro-abortion. But he is pro-choice, in that he favors no legal restrictions on abortion. And his position is a radical outlier, and indistinguishable from Catholics for Choice.

      1. @ Toonma

        You asked me if you have a blind spot when it comes to your own positions. I’d say the word ‘patriot’ is an example of semantic manipulation by the ‘right’. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask me to see through the left’s masquerade, while simultaneously assuming that I’m dumb enough to not to see ”national conservatism” as a bunch or rather international fascistoids. Ango-conservatism, while it’s not my cup of tea, isn’t my number one enemy either, but it sure can do better than that.

      2. I appreciate you taking the time to explain what you meant to say. I agree completely that the European history differs from ours and that setting abortion up as a matter of rights has made the American situation a mess, and harder to address.

        I also think that “radical outlier” and similar rhetoric is inflammatory. Perhaps Mark could easily “shut you up”, your terms, if he agreed that he owes you and answer on your terms. Speaking strictly for myself, I don’t see that he does.

      3. @Elisabeth

        I could use gentler language, but I’m trying to blend in with the vibe here. Compared to “Racist fascist MAGA cult of death,” my prose is positively purple.

        I can offer this in place of “radical outlier”: Mark’s position on the legality of abortion is far more permissive than the consensus in the Western world. It is a small minority view in America. To adopt his preferred legal treatment of abortion worldwide would require the repeal of abortion laws in almost every country, with the notable exception of a few oppressive dictatorships.

        Agree that no one owes me an answer. But the main thrust of this post is that Mark’s position is misunderstood, that he’s unfairly accused of being pro-abortion. I contend that failing to simply say “yes, I agree that abortion must be criminalized in some form” leaves him open to these accusations.

      4. I think you are confusing methodology with belief of criminality. We need to reduce demand for abortion to deal with the criminality. If demand remains unaddressed then the activity, in this case abortion will continue. Witness the experiment with alcohol prohibition in the US. Legal availability was “eliminated” but demand remained unaddressed. So it the prohibition was removed. To make something truly illegal we have to address both sides. We may be addressing the illegality of abortion, but without addressing the demand we merely move it underground. To focus on the demand side does not make a person pro-choice, just as focusing solely on illegality does not make person pro-life.

  9. To use an analogy that might, just might, get some cut-through with the Eric Metaxas/ Mollie Hemingway types:
    They got their hands on the One Ring, at last. And they used it. For Gondor!

  10. What about consistent life ethic pro-life organizations, many of whom lean democrat on most other things, (New Wave Feminists comes to mind) who, while recognizing there’s still a heck of a battle ahead, are celebrating the end of Roe?

    I dunno, lumping the entire thing in with the GOP seems to be doing a lot of people a big disservice. The pro-life movement is not solely the GOP.

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