As I do from time to time, but still seldom, I wade into the occasional abortion debate on Facebook. I try not to as these debates, especially over fairly anonymous channels fail to go very far, and I have to say that perhaps this one didn’t enlighten nor elevate the discourse. This was a comment thread off of a friend’s original post about pro-choice Catholics. Some of his friends proudly noted how they managed to compartmentalize their beliefs in order to be both faithful to the Lord in their personal conduct, but not be grating to their non-Catholic surroundings. This is a typical temptation of a West Coast American Catholic – to be a duplicitous Richie Rich giving lip service and respect to both sides of the debate. I responded, arguably with excessive snark: “I’m pretty sure the early Christians did not compartmentalize as they were getting fed to lions.” I won no new followers that day.
Shortly after that thread died down, a Doctor who had performed over 1200 abortions gave a testimony to Congress arguing for the ending of abortion. In his testimony he detailed the graphic steps to a mid-term abortion – dismantling the baby and also putting the mother’s life at risk for late term procedures. As much science as we have, we need to be reminded by those on the front lines (of either side) in graphic detail of the obvious pain inflicted on an innocent child. Being faced with the truth and the desire to do good, this doctor changed his heart and became a pro-life advocate. We know so many prominent abortion advocates like Norma McCorvey, Bernard Nathanson, and Abby Johnson, and we continue to pray for the conversion of Henry Morgantaler, who a few years ago was open enough to dialogue with the head of New Brunswick’s Right to Life association. With mutual respect and love for the human person, but without losing the courage of convictions, the most hardened abortion workers can be led to the truth. How encouraging that should be to pro-lifers.
As snarky as I might have come across on Facebook, I really wished I could have conveyed the sadness of a compartmentalized person – one who feels trapped from acting and believing with full integrity. I understand people’s actions from not matching their beliefs – but when their own beliefs are split, there is no hard support girding one’s own philosophy. Being a “personally pro-life but pro-choice” Catholic betrays the despair in the power of the Gospel of Life. Reducing the pro-life position to an aberrant article of faith rather than advocacy of a universal human right weakens the secular support that should be given to those abortion industry workers who risk their livelihoods to leave their grim assignments behind. Like the Church’s endorsement for past human rights movements, how great society would be for all Catholics and people of good will to be able to bravely stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of our most innocent – uncompromisingly for true freedom and happiness for all.