Yes, It Is That Important: A Pro-Life Fisk

I knew it.  Sooner or later, we were bound to have a repeat offender on the fisk list, and here she is.  Once again, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Rebecca Bratten Weiss, who has said something so horrible, she needs to be smacked down with extreme prejudice.

Today’s example of holier-than-thou, sorry-excuse-for-Catholicism is entitled “Abortion: the Most Important Moral Issue Ever….Except for When it’s Not.”  I’m just glad she managed to capitalize most of the appropriate letters this time around, even if she did get the ellipsis wrong.

Once again, the original text is in italics, and my comments are in bold.


Adherents to the Seamless Garment or Consistent Life Ethic Approach

Wow, I didn’t even make it through the first sentence.  Seriously?  That supposed “social justice” theory is a load of bunk, and has been since the 1970s, because it equates issues that aren’t actually equal.  You may think you’re “defending all life,” because you decide to be a “Consistent Life Ethic” kind of person, but what you’re really doing is clouding the issue.  Defining that “ethic” is nebulous, because its tenants are nebulous.  Their Wikipedia page says that “the seamless garment philosophy holds that issues such as abortion, capital punishment, militarism, euthanasia, social injustice, and economic injustice all demand a consistent application of moral principles that value the sacredness of human life.”

Well, yeah, we’re Catholics.  We have a lot of Church Teachings that tells us how to do that “consistent application of moral principles” across multiple topics and throughout every conceivable part of our lives on this planet.  So, you’re either fixing a problem that doesn’t exist . . . or you’re talking about something else.

It’s “social injustice” and “economic injustice” that are your real problems, right?

Oh, boy, here we go.  What you REALLY mean is that you think I should be just as concerned about abortion as I am about “social injustice,” like the supposed “racism” and “sexism” and BS like that circulating college campuses.  Give me a break.  There’s no way those things are equally important.  Baby-killing, because it is intrinsically evil and involves, you know, the DEATH of a CHILD, and in this country, occurs more than THREE THOUSAND TIMES PER DAY, takes priority over anyone claiming they were called racist names one day last week, for example.

And before you can point your finger and go “you mean evil person!  How dare you not care about the plight of the poor?!” just hold on.  I never said those issues weren’t important.  I can be in favor of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked . . . and also realize that stopping the baby-killing should probably take priority.  I can donate old clothes and canned food and money to my local Shepherd’s Storehouse on my way to pray outside Planned Parenthood.  The two aren’t mutually exclusive, and just because the EMPHASIS is different doesn’t mean that pro-lifers DON’T CARE about the poor.  And you assuming that they do is not only unjust and insulting, it makes you look like an idiot.  You’re bringing left-wing politics into a Catholic Church issue and assuming no one will notice.  Take your “Seamless Garment” and go talk to the Democrats; I’m sure they’d love to have you.

Moving on.

as well as whole-life and New Pro Life advocates

I don’t even know who that is, so getting back to the main point.

are regularly criticized because we try to address abortion within the broader context of other injustices.

In other words, when someone does what I just did  in the preceding paragraphs and tells you to get your priorities straight, you get your feelings hurt.

You’re not talking about abortion “in a broader context.”  You’re trying to get us to NOT talk about it.  Not gonna happen.

In so doing, we are told, we place all moral issues on the same plane, thus watering down the sinister significance of abortion, and the immensity of the body-count.

Uh, yeah.  That’s exactly what you do.  When you’re more concerned about “social justice” — which these days means some special little snowflake on a college campus getting her feelings hurt because of some “trigger” word or other such garbage — and then criticize pro-lifers for spending their time, money, and effort on trying to stop the baby-killing, you’ve done EXACTLY that.  Thanks for clearing that up for us.

Writing for First Things, William Doino Jr accuses Cardinal Bernardin, with whom the Seamless Garment approach originated, of a failure sufficiently to distinguish the gravity of abortion:

 Placing it on the same plane as the other issues undercut the pro-life movement’s justifiable emphasis on abortion. Worse, it gave cover to pro-abortion Catholics who could say they agreed with “most of” the Cardinal’s concerns, while still sacrificing the unborn by the millions.

I read the link, and it’s a wonderful article.  Why am I not surprised you think it’s something to be criticized?  In addition, you completely missed the point of the whole article.  It’s title is “Sex and the Seamless Garment,” in which Mr. Donio reminds us that we left out an important issue from the debate: sexual morality.  It feeds into the abortion issue, so why are we ignoring that in favor of  the rest?  Shouldn’t we attack the problem by the roots, and not just pull the leaves off?  It’s an excellent point to make, and actually agrees somewhat with your whole “seamless garment” baloney — the idea that we can’t focus our attention on one issue to the exclusion of all else.

And for the record . . . nobody ever ACTUALLY said to do that.

Not to mention that your little cherry-picked quote was just something for you to focus your criticism on.  The whole paragraph actually said:

In his now-famous address at Fordham University, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, the late archbishop of Chicago argued that “the pro-life position of the Church must be developed in terms of a comprehensive and consistent ethic of life.” Consequently, the Church should not just focus on fighting abortion, but also the nuclear arms race, capital punishment and poverty; and promote health care, immigration reform, and benefits for the unemployed.

Fair minded critics of the Cardinal did not dispute this. What they objected to was the Cardinals’ failure to emphasize the overwhelming horror of abortion, which was taking over a million lives per year, and prioritize it as the defining moral issue of our time. Placing it on the same plane as the other issues undercut the pro-life movement’s justifiable emphasis on abortion. Worse, it gave cover to pro-abortion Catholics who could say they agreed with “most of” the Cardinal’s concerns, while still sacrificing the unborn by the millions.

Ladies and gentleman, we have a straw man.

Meanwhile, New Pro Life activists and writers have received accusatory messages demanding to know whether we are a “Podesta plant” or perhaps receiving Soros money to infiltrate the pro-life movement with insidious messages of social justice.

Aw, you poor baby.  Someone accused you of something you didn’t do?  They used a trigger word and hurt your feelings?

The message is clear: abortion is the worst evil. Stopping it is the top priority.

Actually, yes.  It is the worst evil.  It’s the murder of the most vulnerable, the most innocent, to the tune of several thousand PER DAY.  And in addition to that obvious bad thing: any idea what the suicide rate is of post-abortive mothers?  How about the link between abortion and breast cancer, which kills how many women per year?  Abortion horrible, all its consequences are horrible, and yes, it needs to be stopped.  Pronto.

The absolute necessity that we choose life for the unborn renders all other issues null and void, for now.

Nobody said that; stop making stuff up.  Nobody ever said that other issues — feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and so forth and so on — were to be IGNORED in favor of stopping abortion. We’re adults; we can multi-task.  Other problems aren’t “null and void,” they just have a different EMPHASIS.  If you’re a homeless guy, and someone with a knife tries to stab you, of course you’re going to stop the more IMMEDIATE problem of “this dude is trying to kill me” before you worry about the fact that you have no shoes.  You’re making up issues that don’t exist so that you have something to rant about; stop it.

Friend and fellow Patheosi Mark Shea has referred to those who emphasize abortion to the neglect of other injustices as “using the unborn as human shields”, as a defense for the many evils represented by the far right and the Trump regime.

Let’s define the terms, shall we?  A “human shield” is “a military and political term describing the deliberate placement of non-combatants in or around combat targets to deter the enemy from attacking these combat targets. It may also refer to the use of persons to literally shield combatants during attacks, by forcing them to march in front of the combatants.”

So, the “issue” you’re trying to address — after you make it up out of whole cloth — is using the slaughter of millions of babies as . . . what, an excuse to kill someone else?  A deterrent for some enemy?  Your analogy makes no sense.  Even used in the more colloquial sense — like, an armed robber took a hostage to use as a human shield so that the cops didn’t shoot him — it makes no sense.  You’re saying, what, that pro-lifers are using the issue to keep themselves from being . . . figuratively shot by someone else?

Or maybe . . . the pro-lifers are using the importance of the issue of abortion to deflect blame for their lack of social justice?  Bad metaphor there.

And also: I thought we were talking about pro-lifers and the associated Church Teachings?  Since when does Trump have anything to do with anything?

Oh, right.  You’re just trying to use what you think the Church says as an excuse to slam Trump, and then go hide behind “Catholic Social Teaching” to justify it.

Clicked on the link, and your buddy Mark Shea is just as bad: clouding the issue, trying to be holier-than-thou, and wading into politics and trying to wield the Catholic Church as a stick to beat people that don’t agree with him.

I don’t dispute this.

Yeah, I know you don’t, and that’s a problem.  You’d best look to that.

In fact, it’s not so clear that many of these spokespersons care much about abortion very much, when it comes down to the actual material event.

That sentence needs some work.

I think you’re trying to say that “not many of these spokespersons care much about abortion when it comes down to the actual event.”

Which is complete and utter nonsense.  You think pro-lifers stand outside of Planned Parenthood in the rain, sleet, snow, and heat because they don’t actually care?

For instance:

Oh, boy, here we go.

recent conversations about the case of a Honors student at a Christian high school being suspended and barred from her own graduation ceremony, because she is pregnant. Maddi Runkles has a 4.0 average, considers herself a born-again Christian, and plans to raise her own baby – but the very people who ought to be most enthusiastic about supporting her are the ones punishing her.

Okay, back the outrage train up.  Let’s look at the details before we get into who’s to blame for what here.

The girl was suspended, yes, and barred from the ceremony — not from graduating high school — because she BROKE THE SCHOOL RULES.  She’s being punished for BREAKING THE RULES THAT SHE ACKNOWLEDGED AND SIGNED.  That’s all.  She’s not being punished for “being” pregnant.  It’s a fine line, but it’s a very important one there.  The article on LifeNews about this same issue (and with a similar outraged tone), actually mentioned that the girl in question KNEW SHE BROKE THE SCHOOL RULES, acknowledged it publicly, and asked for forgiveness.

Good for her.  She recognizes she did something wrong by having sex outside of marriage, for one, and for breaking a school rule she acknowledged and agreed to, for another.  Great.  This is a nonissue from here on out, right?

Oh, no.  We don’t have that kind of luck these days.  The SJWs are coming out of the woodwork to blame the pro-life movement for not caring about her, rather than seeing that she is being required to accept the consequences of her own actions.

We can be enthusiastic that she didn’t have an abortion — in today’s world, where that option is pushed hard, especially on young people in trouble, it’s a good thing to say, “thank God, she didn’t abort her baby.”  We can go from there and say, “hey, I’ll buy some onesies and give them to her,” or “I’ll get her a gift certificate to Babies-R-Us so she can afford the supplies she’ll need,” or “I know someone at the local crisis pregnancy center; I’ll refer her to them so that she can get some free care,” and so forth and so on.  That’s what all of those crisis pregnancy centers specialize in.

But banning her from graduation isn’t about her “being pregnant,” at least not immediately.  She broke the school code — even if she made a good choice afterwards — and now she’s being punished for that.  NOT BECAUSE SHE’S KEEPING HER BABY.  Put the monkey on the right back, here.  The punishment is, in my opinion, very just.  Would anyone be raising such a stink if she’d gone out and gotten drunk — which is also against school rules — then had a guilt trip, tattled on herself, and stood up and asked for forgiveness?  She’d have been banned from graduation and suspended in that case, and no one would have batted an eye.  You break the rules, you get punished.  It’s that simple.

Runkles told the Times:

“Some pro-life people are against the killing of unborn babies, but they won’t speak out in support of the girl who chooses to keep her baby,” she said. “Honestly, that makes me feel like maybe the abortion would have been better. Then they would have just forgiven me, rather than deal with this visible consequence.”

Let that sink in. A young woman in a crisis pregnancy chose life, but Christians are making her wish she’d chosen abortion.

This is wrong on so many levels, and I don’t mean that the aforementioned Christians are wrong.

The girl — and the author of this outraged blog post — needs to realize that being forgiven isn’t the same thing as getting out of the consequences of her actions.  We’re Catholics; we know that even when our sins are forgiven, we still have the just punishment to go along with it.  That’s why we do penance; that’s what Purgatory is for.  We’ve been forgiven, but justice demands that we make amends for our bad acts.

Which is exactly what happened to her.  I’m sure she’s been forgiven for her misstep; that doesn’t mean that the school administrators are supposed to applaud her public sin and act like it didn’t happen.  Not only is that contrary to justice, it gives rise to scandal.  If the school seems to publicly support the sin — not the person who committed the sin and has acknowledged that and sought appropriate forgiveness, remember — then their ability to guide, instruct, and protect the other students is diminished.  What happens when some other kid teetering on the edge of some sin thinks, “Well, so-and-so got away with it; it’s no big deal, after all”?  That’s what happens when people in Catholic schools refuse to teach kids about Hell; it’s reinforced every time they knowingly do something wrong, and get out of trouble just because they’re some spoiled little special snowflake that daddy and mommy can excuse no matter what they did.

Yes, there are consequences to your actions.  Accept that.  You did a bad thing; now you get to do your time.  I forgive you, but I’m not going to publicly endorse your behavior.  If a toddler is running through the house — after mom told him not to do that — and runs into a table and breaks some priceless heirloom of mom’s, he can say he’s sorry all he wants; it won’t un-break the vase.  Mom can forgive him, and still send him to his room without dinner because he knew better than to run through the house, and did it anyway.

Those school administrators can ban her from the graduation ceremony and still support her and her decision not to abort.  Stop clouding the issue and making everyone believe that those pro-lifers are evil, mean, horrible people.  They’re not.  Both this girl and everyone who is so monumentally outraged by the school’s decision is missing the whole point.

Love the sinner; hate the sin.

You would think that the “abortion is worst” crowd would be appalled at this, especially given the popular mantras about caring for “both of them” and how pro-life means pro-woman. But no. We are being treated, instead, to a series of lectures about “following the rules.” Maddi Runkles broke the rules. Too bad if this is hard for her. Too bad if her plight will make many more young women secretly choose abortion. Suddenly abortion isn’t the worst thing ever: breaking the rules is.

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.  Reading this is making me crazy . . .

“Breaking the rules” is basically a definition of “sin.”  There’s a rule about not having sex before marriage; if I break that rule, I’ve done something bad.  I’ve sinned, and I need to seek forgiveness and do my penance for it.  There’s a world of difference between not publicly approving of her sin, and abandoning her in her plight.  So she got suspended; so she can’t walk across the stage.  It’s not the end of the world.  Did her parents throw her out of the house?  Nope.  Did the school set up some old-fashioned stocks and make her stand in them all day while everyone ridiculed her?  Nope.  Is she supposed to go around with a “scarlet letter” on her chest all day long?  Nope.

Again, if she’d been drinking and got caught, and then got banned from graduation, no one would have even noticed.  She’d have “gotten what she deserved,” right?

But somehow, now we’re all supposed to be outraged at those mean, nasty Christians who are making her feeeeeel bad.  When I see an article that says “teenager who got pregnant has garbage thrown at her by hecklers,” or “teenager who got pregnant is thrown out of her house,” or “teenager who got pregnant doesn’t have enough food to eat,” then I’ll be outraged that the Christians are treating her badly because of her sin, and driving other girls away from us and straight into the arms of Planned Parenthood.

But that’s not at all what happened.  You getting your feelings hurt because of the just punishment due to your actions is nobody’s fault but your own.  And “feeling bad” after you did something wrong is a GOOD THING.  It means your conscience is working.  But don’t you dare expect us to say a thing isn’t a sin just to make you feel better.

How we as Catholics treat the sinner is important, and not just because of the state of our own souls.  We don’t operate in a vacuum; what we do in cases like this reflects on all of us.  Treating this girl badly might intimidate someone else into hiding her pregnancy, or running to get an abortion because she’s afraid of the way she’ll be treated when she admits she screwed up.  We can’t deny that there is a straight line between “how someone perceives me” and “what I intend to do next,” especially among teenagers who are scared.

But you know what makes this situation worse?  It’s not what the school did; it’s all the venom-spewing news articles and bloggers throwing gas on that fire.  What started out as a local issue between a girl, her parents, and their teeny-tiny local school, has been blown completely out of proportion and into a national kerfuffle.

The school administrators appear to be trying to walk on the edge of a knife — how to punish the actions of this girl, who admitted to doing it, on the one hand; and how to enforce the rules of their institution (and their religion) on the other.  It’s a hard thing, and don’t envy them, especially with the spotlight they now have on them.

Could the school administrators have explained their decision more clearly?  Possibly; we don’t know specifically what went on behind closed doors between the girl, her parents, and the school board.  If they treated her badly, then that sin is on them.  Could they have explained: “hey, you did a good thing by not choosing abortion.  We’ll support you and your baby; but you still broke a rule and we can’t endorse that.  You’ll have to be banned from the graduation ceremony”?  Sure.  Be specific about the punishment.  Say what’s right, and do it in a charitable way.

But don’t you dare endorse a sin.

(If you’re female).

So . . . the only reason this girl is being punished is because . . . she’s a girl.  She got pregnant, and only girls can get pregnant.

. . . seriously?

Basic biology here: it takes two to make a baby.  Probably the reason the baby’s father hasn’t been mentioned in the plethora of articles written about this girl and her mean, evil, Christian school is because he’s not a student, and his conduct isn’t under their jurisdiction.  Did you ever think of that?

Once again, you’re clouding the issue.  The most likely scenario here is that the school can’t punish dad because dad isn’t a student.  Not their jurisdiction.  Now, was there any mention that dad stepped up and said, “Yeah, that’s my kid.  I want to support him”?  Nope.  Strange silence on that count.  Which means, maybe dad is gone, running from his responsibility, and is a jerk.  Either that, or the articles in question are just ignoring him (which is another, separate problem).  He needs to accept the consequences of his actions, too.  And if that means getting suspended and not going to graduation, so be it.

But again, you’re just clouding the issue.  Stop doing that.

Matt Walsh has chided us in just such a way, on his Facebook page:

On one hand, you want to celebrate her choice, but on the other, if you toss your rules out the window in this case, how can you enforce them in any other case? Are we saying that they just shouldn’t have the rule at all? Why shouldn’t they have it? They’re a Christian school. Pre-marital sex is a serious sin. Why shouldn’t a Christian school have a rule against it? And if they have such a rule, why shouldn’t they enforce it?

There’s a tough balance between admonishing the sin of pre-marital sex while celebrating the life that comes from it. That’s a very difficult line to walk, but everyone in the peanut gallery seems to be pretending that it’s not difficult at all. They have it all figured out, and because they have it figured out, they feel comfortable condemning this school and its administrators.

I salute you, Matt Walsh.  I’m so glad that someone is using their brain to address this issue, and not just their feels.

Suddenly, it is okay to balance pro-life concerns about abortion with other, equally grave matters?

Read the quote again; that’s not what he said.  He’s talking about the line between “admonishing the sin” and “celebrating the life that comes from it.”  Leave your straw man at home; he’s not fooling us.

There’s a ”difficult line to walk” between the evil of abortion, and that of premarital sex?

Uh . . . no.  They’re both wrong, and since the latter often leads to the former, they’re linked and need to be addressed.  You know, like Mr. Donio mentioned in that article you cherry-picked a quote from, but failed to read all the way through?

Being concerned about life ethics over other issues has relegated us to the “peanut gallery”?

If your “life ethics” consist of non-issues like special snowflakes getting their feelings hurt and the contents of someone’s paycheck, then yes.

According to the critics of Cardinal Bernardin, it could be argued that Walsh is putting premarital sex on the same plane as abortion. But we’re not allowed to do this with domestic violence, rape, police brutality, capital punishment, war, or depriving the worker of his wages.

Hold on.  I have to go back and read it again . . .

Okay, it’s on now.

[Takes a break to force herself not to use any cuss words or name-calling.]


No, all those things are NOT equal.  Any discussion about “depriving the worker of his wages” belongs over with the Democratic party; that’s a political issue.  No, someone’s paycheck isn’t equal to the death of an innocent.  Neither is capital punishment; in fact, the Catechism doesn’t condemn capital punishment.  I’ve already quoted the appropriate paragraphs to you the last time I had to fisk you, so I won’t do it again here.  So no, those “issues” are NOT equal to the taking of an innocent life.  The others — domestic violence and rape — are definitely wrong, no question there, and yes, they need to be fought.  Police brutality is also wrong, but there’s a tendency these days to see any police officer who has to shoot to defend himself as the villain of the piece, so your definition of “police brutality” needs to be clarified before I’ll agree with you there.  And war?  Go look up St. Thomas Aquinas’ Just War Theory and then get back to me about how “wrong” it is.

But because pro-lifers don’t talk about those other things as much, and spend more time praying outside of abortion clinics rather than sitting around blogging about the so-called “living wage,” for example, they’re the evil ones?

You’re creating an issue that doesn’t exist, just to have something to condemn.  Just because I can call out one thing — or two — for being wrong, doesn’t mean that everything I didn’t mention is automatically right.

Maybe the ONLY THING that is as bad as abortion is premarital sex. If it’s had by a woman, that is. Because it’s never young men who are subjected to these rules.

Oh, for the love of —

Nobody ever said that.  As I already said above, probably the only reason why the father in the aforementioned scenario wasn’t also disciplined was because he WAS NOT A STUDENT.  Not even the liberals who WROTE those articles — like the one you link to at the New York Times — even mentioned that the girl was being treated unjustly because she and her boyfriend (the baby’s father) were not punished equally.  And there’s no doubt that had that been the case, the liberal media would have trampled all over each other, trying to get there first.

It takes two to have sex.  It takes two to make a baby.  And, news flash, it takes two to commit that sin if the above mentioned things are done OUTSIDE MARRIAGE.  So, the blame here is plenty to go around.  Once again, you’re making up an issue that isn’t really there.  Stop.

And there’s the common denominator between the “she broke the rules” and the “she had an abortion” shaming. In each case, it’s a woman at whom we get to cast the stones.

“She broke the rules” and “she had an abortion” are the same thing, because, hey, having an abortion breaks that big, major rule about “thou shalt not murder,” remember that one?

Premarital sex is one sin; abortion is another.  They’re both bad, even if the one about killing is worse than the other.  And the boyfriend in both scenarios shares in the blame.  In the first instance, for having sex outside of its proper context; and in the second, if he abandoned/pressured/coerced the mother of his child to have an abortion.

One is left wondering whether people like Walsh care about life issues at all, or whether it’s all just misogyny wrapped loosely in a thin veneer of ethics?

. . .

You’re accusing me of what, now?

. . .

Yeah, I’m done.  I’m not even going to dignify that.  The Asymmetric Bullshit Principle applies here, and I’ve already written too many words on the subject.

I’ll leave you with this, though:

Yes, I care about life.  I care about a lot of things.  You don’t get to accuse me of “misogyny” and slam my “ethics” when your own “seamless garment” is so tangled and convoluted.

See to the plank in your own eye before you come and criticize me.

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