All posts tagged: pro-life

What Does It Really Mean to Speak of the Right to Life?

Despite a court order to return them, hundreds of undocumented immigrant children still find themselves separated from their parents and living in US detention facilities. The psychological and even physical effects of such traumatic and unexpected separation are not difficult to imagine. Some children have been victims of sexual abuse—and at least one has died shortly after being in US custody. These children clearly find themselves in this terrible situation through no fault of their own. The Trump administration specifically choose to inflict this harm on them as a means of deterring both illegal immigration and asylum claims. They were used as pawns in a political war over immigration policy. This deterrence was designed to impact both the choices of possible future immigrants, but also the parents who were already here—many of whom were claiming asylum from extremely violent situations back home. Indeed, sometimes the children leave because they themselves have been marked for death. It is also worth nothing that this violence has deep ties to US American consumer practices and foreign policies—particularly our current lust for drugs and our neo-colonial practices during …

Addressing the American Suicide Contagion

Suicide We are in the midst of an existential crisis or cultural sickness, also known as an opioid epidemic. Increasing numbers of Americans are self-medicating with the hardest of hard drugs, prescription pain meds like fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine and many times more potent than heroine. More than 63,000 US citizens died from an overdose last year. More than a million OD’ed and lived. We have more opioid addicts in the US than anywhere else in the world despite the fact the opioids are widely available in many other countries over the counter. The problem is so severe that it has reduced life expectancy overall several years in a row. Happy people, people whose mental, physical and spiritual needs are being met, do not abuse prescription pain meds. These are deaths of despair. These are slow-motion suicides. Parallel, but not as frequently discussed, is the public health crisis of direct suicide. 45,000 Americans took their own lives last year and 1.3 million made a nonfatal attempt. The suicide rate has …

How Should the Pro-Life Movement Address Charges of Racism?

Huffington Post politics reporter Laura Bassett made it clear that pro-life groups condemned Kristen Walker Hatten—a former vice-president of New Wave Feminists and contributor to the Dallas Morning News—for her disturbing turn to white nationalism. The actual story was straightforward. A pro-life activist, who never gave any indication of being a white nationalist (and, indeed, had many negative things to say about Trump at first), went rogue and was condemned by the whole movement—including her former employer (who fired her well before the story broke)—in the strongest possible terms. But Bassett could not help herself from trying to make this story fit into a larger narrative. Despite the fact that half the US identifies as pro-life, Bassett insisted that condemnations of Hatten took place in the context of pro-lifers’ struggle for “mainstream acceptance” and connections to “right ring extremists.” Given how diverse the pro-life movement is, the more serious challenge we face is how to engage journalists like Bassett who go beyond reporting to uncritically promoting caricatures and narratives perpetuated by enemies of the movement. And Basset went further, to …

Welcoming the Child: Foundations of the Hospitable Imagination

Bearing and bringing life into the world is the primordial act of hospitality, the universal experience of co-creating with God and welcoming the stranger, essentially the “first” work of mercy. Many will argue the political nuances of life issues and prioritizing who deserves the loudest voice in a world clamoring for one’s conscience and one’s action. But when we draw a collective breath and the dust settles, we must acknowledge the most basic reality of human life. We have all come into this world as tiny, vulnerable, powerless children dependent on our mother’s bodily hospitality and a warm and nourishing landing spot after birth. All of us. Without exception.   I definitely didn’t “get” this until I was pregnant with my first child and went through the miraculous, traumatic, transformative experience of pregnancy and birth. A lot of things came into focus after that pivotal moment in my life as a woman. I understood for the first time what it meant to literally give your life for another (though I did not actually die). I …

An Ethic of Listening

I love to write and speak—definitely a verbal processor—but I wouldn’t say I’m naturally a good listener. This double-edged sword makes me an effective rhetorician but also a candidate for what St. Paul refers to as “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” in the oft-quoted love chapter of 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 13:1). In the Internet age we live in, our entire society struggles with this issue. There are few checks on self-expression, and words are flooding the sound and digital waves constantly, drowning one another out with increasing urgency and vitriol. Politics, particularly in this last election cycle, has left many of us disillusioned by the complete lack of civil discourse and real listening taking place in the halls of power. The media got the country completely wrong by not listening to a whole class of real people and their actual thoughts on the state of things. Though I do all kinds of writing and speaking on life issues, and I don’t shy away from rallies and protests as well, I’ve come to …

Debunking Abortion Myths: Part 3

In just over a week, hundreds of thousands of Americans will gather on the National Mall to protest the their country’s abortion policy, which ranks among the most permissive in the world. As abortion rates reach their lowest levels since the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade and its lesser known sister case Doe v. Bolton, political acrimony and vitriol reach new levels. In fact, our political rhetoric often gives the impression that Americans are deeply divided on abortion, and it appears that political lobbies and large corporate bodies are willing to create, cultivate, and inflame these perceptions in the hope that these false and subversive narratives will, through the exertion of power, money, and influence, divide Americans into pre-fabricated consumer camps. It’s easier to get funding, to market ideas, to get elected, and to stay in power when the public see every neighbor not as a human being, but as an ally or enemy, as a friend or foe. Our political rhetoric creates the impression of polarization. The most recent example of …

Debunking Abortion Myths: Part 2

Political rhetoric often gives the impression that Americans’ views on abortion may be neatly categorized along ideological, generation, and gender lines. However, this ethereal narrative blurs and even obscures the on-the-ground reality: Americans’ views on abortion are far more complex than our prevailing political narratives are usually willing to admit. A Salon article entitled “How to Argue with Your Relatives About Abortion: A Few Arguments that Won’t Work with Pro-Lifers and Some that Might” by Shawna Kay Rodenberg (introduced in the first post of this series) gives advice on how to successfully argue with your Aunt Cheryl about abortion over the family dinner table. Ms. Rodenberg ascribes to the myth that millennials are overwhelmingly pro-choice. This generational argument is a common abortion myth, one that is called into serious question when we take a closer look at polling data. In fact, we find a much more complex picture, one that reveals that the generation gap may actually run in the other direction, that is, Aunt Cheryl is more likely to be pro-choice than her millennial …

Debunking Abortion Myths: Part 1

In just over two weeks several hundred thousand women, men, and children will converge at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the 44th annual March for Life. The March for Life is the world’s largest annual civil rights and social justice protest. Founded by pro-life activist Nellie Grey, the March for Life has been taken place every year since 1974, to protest the Supreme Court’s 7–2 decision in Roe v. Wade, and the less well known sister case, Doe v. Bolton. Since the court’s 1973 decision, it is estimated that upwards of 59 million Americans have died as a result of abortion. Public discourse about abortion is polemic, vitriolic, and largely unproductive. It also fails to reflect the realities on the ground, as a December Salon article by Shawna Kay Rodenberg demonstrated. Her proposed guidelines on how to argue with one’s pro-life relatives about abortion betrayed many common assumptions people have about abortion and about what it means to be pro-life. Yet, Ms. Rodenberg is certainly not the first person—and will not be the …

The Mystery of Fatherhood

As an adopting father, I have a unique relationship with my child. While many babies bond with their mother through late night breastfeeding, as adopting parents, my wife and I split this nightly vigil. From his earliest days in the hospital where our son was in intensive care for a week or so, I would arrive at 2:00 AM to feed and care for our newborn. I will always remember the first moment that my son looked into my eyes. It was during one of these feedings. I was holding him while he slept, engaged in a rousing game of Solitaire on my phone. Our son’s penetrating eyes (at the time seemingly full of all colors and none at once) looked into my own face, calling me away from the screen. In this encounter, I did not see just a generic life. But, this very particular life. I saw, my Thomas. This life calling out to me for tenderness. This person, placing the fullness of his trust in me, that I would protect him as best as …

The Crucible of Motherhood

Several months ago, Jessica Keating, Program Director of the Office of Human Dignity and Life Initiatives at Notre Dame, delivered a lecture in the Institute for Church Life’s Dante lecture series in which she used the phrase “the crucible of motherhood.” This phrase struck me as singularly important and true. The image of refinement by great heat and intense struggle seems apt for a vocation initiated by excruciating pain and physical endurance—well beyond the actual act of giving birth. I’ve also come to see, particularly in this election season, that words matter. A LOT. After three long pregnancies and three natural births of three very large children, I’d like to see those defending the lives of innocent children in the womb use more language empathizing with the mother herself. Women need to be able to say in one breath how difficult and even awful parts of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood can be while also affirming the infinite value of the prenatal child and his or her absolute right to life. The dignity of the person …