Sunday, February 13, 2011

March for Life 2011

A blessed pre-lenten Sunday to all. This post is a few weeks in coming, I know; took a lazy Sunday afternoon to make enough room for it.

Upon arrival at the National Mall, this was handed to us by a Byzantine Catholic group: A beautiful recension of the Virgin of the Sign. I'm always encouraged by the relatively young, somber witness given by the Catholic pro-lifers at the March. Gone are the joking and giggling one usually sees in many of the non-Catholic youth groups (whether church or school or both is unclear). Present instead is the awareness of the loss of life that is consonant with that leaping Presence in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. We passed a quite large and imposing display from (WARNING: the link contains, as did the display, graphic images and video of actual abortions), wherein a man with a megaphone gravely, yet not hysterically, spoke to a crowd that, in view of the display, was quite subdued. He said that, as propaganda and sensationalistic photography had been used in ages past to uncover some of the most atrocious crimes against humanity ever committed (slavery, war, the Holocaust), so the use of graphic, bloody imagery to make abortion's truly reprehensible nature apparent was not only permissible, but necessary. I will say that I am for this sort of information being used as much as possible in appropriate venues, and that a march such as this is indeed an appropriate event. We are to be reminded of the nature of the issue at hand. The quiet marchers were then (of course?) interrupted by a teenage boy who was (of course) surrounded by a gaggle of teenage girls and who, delighting in the "OMG-he's-sooo-crazy!" attention it got him, yelled out with a smirk, "When I say 'Pro,'" you say 'Life!' Pro! (Life!) Pro! (Life!)"

It was at such moments that some of the objections raised by some SVS-ers (who, of course, stayed home) began to gain a bit of credibility.

And our involvement in the march was cause for some controversy on campus. To SVS's credit, we were not forced to attend, and campus emails were free to be sent to all regarding this or that take on abortion in general, and the appropriateness of the march in particular. Concern rose, not about whether life in the womb was sacred, but rather regarding everything from aligning ourselves politically with certain parties (a point with which I can sympathize, though silly political jargon seems to be at a minimum in the crowd, and non-existent from the pre-march speakers--the event is decidedly not about a candidate but about an issue; it went on during Bush and Reagan years, as well) to the separation of Church and State. This last reason is one I find absolutely bizarre; those questioning our involvement in the march would have no problem with Dr. King's use of political action towards addressing what he saw as a moral atrocity, regardless of whether or not legislating morality with regard to racial discrimination would "win the hearts and minds" of those determined to perpetuate the inequality of that time. Likewise, I imagine they would have no qualms about abolitionists seeking to make the War Between the States solely about the moral cause of emancipation and do away with the institution of slavery, in spite of the disruption of the way of life of those southern whites who'd only known that system. Why they would balk at doing away with the wholesale slaughter of thousands of human beings every day citing reasons of 1) voting along one's religious context, 2) alienating and endangering women due to lack of follow-up and support plans, or 3) seeing other means of contraception (another issue in and of itself) as being profitable towards substantially lowering the abortion rate without actually making it legally (and, thus, morally, in many peoples' minds) detrimental to those persuing it (as would the murder of any other human being) seems to me to be the height of inconsistency.

The reason I scratch my head so regarding objections to speaking out via public policy is this: This really does come down to whether or not we believe one's faith is objectively true enough to apply to everybody. If murder is wrong for me, it's wrong for everyone. If abortion has been declared an abomination by the Lord and consistently forbidden by the Church, it is because it is wrong.

Many people disagree categorically. Understood. But it is my conviction that the people who hold abortion to be anything less than the sinful termination of a human life to be in serious delusion. Clear thinking, in my mind, needs to be upheld in this country regarding the slaughter of innocents, and needs to be done so regardless of peoples' reactions. This is not about winning hearts and minds here; this is, ultimately, about preventing murder, to as great a degree as possible. Can this couple with contraceptive measures and education? Certainly it can, and probably should, though the latter should not be seen to be a suitable replacement for the former.

My accusation of delusion is most likely an ironic one for those adamant about keeping abortion legal, for they probably think the same of me. Understood. And irrelevant. The march shows a substantial swath of American public believes the equation of abortion with murder to be absolutely true and to apply to all people. This issue in particular ceases to be merely about the feelings, the "hearts and minds" of our fellow Americans; the lives at stake are not yet able to vote and MUST be protected, even over the screamed objections of those who would vote to tear them apart.

Life--and, for us, the image of God--begins at conception. Refusing to act to protect this life states that people have the right to murder someone as long as they don't believe it to be murder. Justifying this is no defense of individual rights, as such an act tramples on other individuals' gift of life (Our chancellor is adamant, and rightly so, that is is not a "right to live").


  • Until someone is willing to say that a man who shoots and kills another man should not be prosecuted and arrested,
  • Until he's willing to say that said man should not have his freedom restricted by not being able to murder a fellow human being,
  • Until he's willing to call said murder a constitutional right,

then that someone's support for the "freedom to choose" is, to me, the height of hypocrisy. I do not see the intervention on behalf of the government with regards to murderers as outside the scope of its influence; consequently, I neither see its outlawing of abortion as undue intrusion into the lives of the citizenry. Rather I see it as protection of those who most need protection, the most defenseless -- and that, if nothing else, is something government is beholden to do. In all cases.

Regardless, the talk remains, and to facilitate said dialogue, SVS will have a forum on March 26, 2011 to discuss these issues--and no doubt others (LINK). Prayers that civility and openness to the Holy Spirit will prevail.

Finally, an idea of the extent of the march...and the degree of neglect it receives from mainstream media.


B. E. Ward said...

It's hard to extract the pro-life 'movement' from the 'conservative' political cause because the latter has adopted the former as its own. So it's easy for the cause to be pro-life ideal to be muddled in a mire with other - distinctly non-pro-life - 'ideals' like militarism, near-xenophobic border policies, and the hyper-valuation of the corporation. So, I can see how some of your colleagues might be leery of jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak.

But that's exactly how the pro-life movement gains even more traction.. when people stand up and say "Yes, abortion is murder. Yes, we cannot sanction it legally." while at the same time saying "I don't agree with the person marching next to me on the war in Iraq, health care, Halliburton, or illegal immigration."

B. E. Ward said...

Now I realize I should wake up before posting comments.

Obviously, my second sentence should read: "So it's easy for the pro-life ideal to be muddled..."

Then, "No, we cannot sanction it legally."


Fr Mark Hodges said...

Thank you, David, for this excellent analysis.