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Thursday, September 06, 2018

Re-Thinking "The New Pro-Life Movement"

Nothing could ever remove from me the basic conviction that abortion is gravely immoral, and never acceptable. It still causes me to ask myself, "What would you trade to end abortion?" Would I trade a universal basic guaranteed income? How about universal health care? Strict gun laws? High taxes on the rich? My answer is an emphatic "Yes!" to all of these.

I haven't really thought about precisely what I think about those things in themselves; I might still reserve the right to think all those other ideas are imprudent, or incomplete. But the benefit of asking myself this question is getting at the gravity of "intrinsically evil." If I prefer my ideology to the truths about the dignity of the human person, then I must at least consider that, for all my passion for innocent children, I'm not really prepared to do anything and everything licit to stop it. A Catholic priest in Confession has to weigh all these mitigating factors when assessing culpability, even when hearing sins this grave. If I consent to an economic system that puts such pressure on people that abortion becomes a live option via grave fear, these mitigating factors become aggravating factors in my sins of omission. If we sit and think about this, the NPLM doesn't seem so crazy.

Don't hear what I'm not saying. You are not obligated to support a $15 minimum wage, or Medicare for all, as though failing to do so is the same as holding the abortionist's scalpel. It is incumbent upon us to question a possible correlation between two things, however, and to at least consider that we're not doing much to take the scalpel out of his hand. That he might continue to have demand, because of things we have advocated.

At the very least, I owe it to the truth to consider the merits of other ideas in themselves, and to stop using the scandal of abortion as a substitute for the licitness of my ideology. Some person's advocacy for "choice" might be inconsistent with other advocacy on behalf of the weak, but that is no permission to ignore the weak, or to actively harm them. I cannot really pursue the good, if I do not consider the possibility that I may have caused harm, or consented to it. Because of this consideration, I cannot worry only about intrinsic evils.  Anything that is morally licit is therefore a valid public policy option. Or do I believe that the truth about climate change (for instance) stands or falls on the perfection of those who raise the alarm? If that were so, it's a kind of political Donatism. Whataboutism is the disease of the political Donatist. May we quickly recover from this disease, and get about doing good in cooperation and solidarity with all people of good will.