Being Pro-Life: What it really means

So a few of my more, er, lefty Facebook friends recently posted this article to their walls. The title is intentionally provocative, and it worked: I read it.

It may not surprise you to see that I–and the Catholic Church–have a lot of problems with what’s listed here. The writer goes from 10-1, so that’s the order I’ll follow here.

10) You cannot support unrestricted, elective abortions, after the age of viability.  Well, obviously. I mean, pro-lifers are going to agree with you on this one.

9) You cannot oppose a livable, minimum wage. Actually, yes, you can.  Because it hurts employees by limiting the amount of people who can enter the workforce.

From Wiki:

according to a paper written in 2000 by Fuller and Geide-Stevenson, 73.5% (27.9% of which agreed with provisos) of American economists agreed that a minimum wage increases unemployment among unskilled and young workers, while 26.5% disagreed with this statement.[73] As a policy question in 2006, the minimum wage has—to some extent—split the economics profession with just under half believing it should be eliminated and a slightly smaller percentage believing it should be increased, leaving few in the middle.[citation needed]

Some idea of the empirical problems of this debate can be seen by looking at recent trends in the United States. The minimum wage fell about 29% in real terms between 1979 and 2003. For the median worker, real hourly earnings have increased since 1979; however, for the lowest deciles, there have been significant decreases in the real wage without much decrease in the rate of unemployment. Some argue that an increasing minimum wage might reduce youth unemployment (since these workers are likely to have fewer skills than older workers).[74] Furthermore, some economics research has shown that restaurant prices rise in response to minimum wage increases.[75]

Overall, there is no consensus between economists about the effects of minimum wages on youth employment, although empirical evidence suggests that this group is most vulnerable to high minimum wages.[76]

and:

Without choosing from among these perspectives, it is sufficient to say that minimum wage increases are unlikely to have a simple linear effect on employment. The interconnection of price levels, central bank policy, wage agreements, total aggregate demand creates a situation where the conclusions to be drawn from macroeconomic analysis will be highly influenced by the underlying assumptions.[79]

Basically, we don’t know what it will do to employment, because it’s not a linear thing. But it stands to reason that if you have a higher minimum wage, you’re going to be able to hire fewer people, because you, as an employer, don’t have the money to hire them without raising prices.

Also, minimum wage varies incredibly across the U.S., with the federal base of $7.25 being raised in Ohio to $7.85.

I’m not being purposefully against minimum wage; but most jobs do pay more. I’ve never made just $7.25 an hour. My brother and sister both worked in food service, and my sister was a waitress. I know that tips make up a huge portion of their pay, an that the “base wage” reflects that. So we always tip pretty generously. But I don’t think the minimum wage was ever meant to support a family. Now that maybe happening now, due to societal factors. But that may not be what it was intended for.

Of course we don’t want anyone to live in squalor. But let’s keep in mind what the policies are intended for. Also, teenagers, who need their first jobs are often disproportionately negatively affected by raises in minimum wage. So they can’t get the job experience they need in order to build a resume and get experience.

8)  You cannot advocate, support, or passively tollerate economic policies which oppress the poor, minorities, or any other marginalized group. – As my brother would say, “What does this mean?” It sounds nice, but what does it translate to in practicality? Various Popes have discussed economic policy; this First Things piece is worth quoting at length. (Sorry for the length, but it’s important. my bold points)

Catholic social doctrine rests on certain theological premises. Not only that, it must be understood as being a theology rather than a political or economic program. Its function is to state the God-given goals of human life, social as well as individual, the basic moral guidelines for achieving those goals, and the moral boundaries that must not be violated in striving for our more immediate ends. John Paul II has therefore been able to say: “The Church’s social doctrine is not a ‘third way’ between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism, nor even a possible alternative to other solutions less radically opposed to one another. . . . Nor is it an ideology, but rather . . . belongs to the field . . . of theology and particularly of moral theology” (SRS, 41). It was from this moral-theological point of view that he criticized “both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism” as “two concepts of the development of individuals and peoples, both concepts being imperfect and in need of radical correction” (SRS, 21).

Which was not to say, as many commentators leapt to assume, that he regarded them as morally equivalent. What he meant becomes clearer in his more recent encyclical (CA, 19), where he says that the “affluent” or “consumer” society makes a radical mistake when it “seeks to defeat Marxism on the level of pure materialism by showing how a free-market society can achieve a greater satisfaction of material human needs than Communism, while equally excluding spiritual values,” and thereby “totally reduces man to the sphere of economics and the satisfaction of material needs.” To the extent that capitalism degenerates into mere consumerism, it is as materialistic as Marxism. But capitalism need not degenerate in this way, though it is always in danger of doing so and is therefore in need of moral correction…

What, then, is capitalism as these documents understand it? Pius XI said that Leo XIII, in his encyclical, “had chiefly in mind that economic regime in which were provided by different people the capital and labor jointly needed for production” (QA pages, 48-49). According to Leo, “nature has commanded in the case of the State that these two classes . . . should properly form equally balanced counterparts to each other. Each needs the other completely: neither capital can do without labor, nor labor without capital” (RN, 28). The popes, therefore, have accepted capitalism understood as an economic system in which some people own capital goods and others work with those goods in a joint process of production. Their criticisms are aimed at the abuses of capitalism, not at the system as such.

Pius XI explained (QA, p. 49):

Leo XIII’s whole endeavor was to adjust this economic regime to the standards of true order; whence it follows that the system itself is not to be condemned. And surely it is not vicious of its very nature; but it violates right order whenever capital so employs the working or wage-earning classes as to divert business and economic activity entirely to its own arbitrary will and advantage, without any regard to the human dignity of the workers, the social character of economic life, social justice, and the common good.

Similar criticisms of capitalism are found throughout the encyclicals. Perhaps the clearest and most succinct of them occurs in Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio (26), where he condemns “a type of capitalism” (described as “unchecked liberalism”), which “considers profit as the key motive for economic progress, competition as thesupreme law of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as anabsolute right that has no limits and carries no corresponding social obligation” (emphasis added). I have heard this and other papal statements rejected as attacks on a straw man, since no one advocates that kind of capitalism. This criticism would be easier to accept, however, if conservative editorialists in this country did not so regularly talk as if they believed in the unchecked economic liberalism that Paul VI described and if they did not reprobate any modification of it as socialism. Be that as it may, this is the kind of capitalism to which the popes object in their encyclicals.

They do not propose socialism as its remedy, nor do they suggest doing away with private property or the market economy. “Without abolishing the competitive market,” said Paul VI (and he spoke for all the popes), “it should be kept within the limits which make it just and moral, and therefore human” (PP 61). As for private property. Catholic social doctrine not only does not condemn it, but emphatically affirms it. If anything, the popes want more of it, more widely spread, and could cheerfully accept what was once the slogan of Britain’s Conservative Party, “a property-owning democracy.”…

Papal social thought acknowledges and defends the right of private property, but does not regard it as unconditioned and absolute. In the Christian scheme of things, property is stewardship. Man has the right to own and use it, but in subordination to God’s purposes, not merely his own. The earth is God’s, for He made it, and He made it for the sustenance and development of the whole human race. The division of the earth into private possessions is meant to benefit all mankind, and is justified because, in addition to private interests, “it does not cease to serve the common interests of all” (RN, 14).

“The right to own private property,” said Pius XI, “has been given to man by nature, or rather by the Creator Himself, not only in order that individuals may be able to provide for their own needs and those of their families, but also that by means of it, the goods which the Creator has destined for the human race may truly serve this purpose” (QA, p. 23). It follows that, in the use of property, “Men must take into account . . . not only their own advantage, but also the common good. To define in detail these duties, when the need occurs and when the natural law does not do so, is the function of the government” (QA, p. 25).

The six encyclicals are : Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, in 1891; Quadragesimo Anno,published by Pius XI forty years later in 1931, Mater et Magistra of John XXIII in 1961, Populorum Progressio of Paul VI in 1967, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis of John Paul II in 1987, and Centussimum Annos in 1991,  of John Paul II.

So this is what we have from the Popes: Capitalism that respects the human element and sees the people are people, and not just the means for profit, is acceptable. People have a right to private property, but we must also take into account the common good.

I have no idea what system the author is talking about, but I like–and support–what the Popes have given us.

7) You cannot oppose gender equality

Sigh. Here we go again, this old hack. “Man and women he created them,” but no one is equal. The author talks about the pay gap in gender, but completely doesn’t mention why that exists.

From Wiki again:

The raw wage gap data shows that a woman would earn roughly 73.7% to 77% of what a man would earn over their lifetime. However, when controllable variables are accounted for, such as number of children, and the frequency at which unpaid leave is taken, in addition to other factors, The U.S. Department of Labor found in 2008 that the gap can be brought down from 23% to between 4.8% and 7.1%.[19] Furthermore, The United States Government Accountability Office found in 2009 that when accounting for diminishing differences in variables including chosen occupation, education, and experience, the variable wage gap among federal workers can be brought to roughly 1-2%.[20]

The gender pay gap has been attributed to differences in personal and workplace characteristics between women and men (education, hours worked, occupation etc.) as well as direct and indirect discrimination in the labor market (gender stereotypes, customer and employer bias etc.).[21][22][23]

The author also says “it gets more tough than that: as scripture teaches, there is no longer “male or female, slave nor free”, and as a result, we need to demand an end to gender based discrimination in our churches as well.” 

As a Catholic, that ain’t going to happen. We ARE male or female; the Church puts stock in those dull, material things. We like the material. There’s a reason it was a big deal that God Became Man. Male and female have different strengths and geniuses. We are not the same!

6) You cannot hold anti-immigrant sentiments or support oppressive immigration policies. 

CCC 2241:

2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

‘Nuff said.

5) You cannot oppose healthcare for all

As usual when talking about health care, we’re dealing with things that don’t happen. It amazes me how these thoughts continue. The author uses the example of a woman not being able to get infant care for her child. There are programs in every state for low-income/poor mothers and their children, usually up to preschool or kindergarten age. There’s also CHIP

Now, I realize that there are “gaps” in these programs; too rich to qualify for assistance and too poor to actually afford insurance. I’ve spent a lot of my life getting my health care at a kid’s hospital. There are payment plans. There are programs. Sometimes your care can even be written off if insurance won’t cover it. There are ways to get things paid for.

As far as government run health care: People need to learn that this does not work for people who need health care. The average CF survival rate in Britain is ten years less than in the United States. Their hospitals are in the stone age; some of them still have CF patients on wards, with shared rooms, years after we learned that CF patients can share bacteria that is potentially deadly between them. There is a reason medical advances are made in the U.S. and not over countries.

This is where I differ with most of my conservative brethren, because I do think health care in America needs changed. But I don’t think that what we’re about to have is the way to go, at all.

From the CCC:

2288 Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.

Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance.

So yes, governments do need a safety net, of some sort. But I don’t think what we’re about to have is the way to go.

4. You cannot use dehumanizing language

Basically, we can’t be “mean”. While I support this, I do take issue with the author’s idea that we can’t use “illegal” to describe illegal immigrants! If you are in the United States illegally, you are an illegal immigrant. Fact.

3. You cannot support unrestricted gun rights

I basically agree with this one. Again, I differ from my fellow GOPers. But again, I think criminals do not follow the law. That’s what makes them criminals. So we can have all the rules we want, but criminals are going to get around them. I don’t really know how we’ll stop this. But yes, I do not think that everyone who wants a gun should be allowed to get a gun.

2. You cannot support the death penalty

Actually, yes you can. In very limited circumstances.

CCC

2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

 1. You cannot support, advocate for, or participate in war 

Again….yes you can. CCC. And yeah I’m quoting most of a section here. Bold is my emphasis and notes (in the case of the just war section)

Avoiding war

2307 The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.105

2308 All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.

However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.”106

2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time: Also known as Conditions of Just War: 

- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

- there must be serious prospects of success;

- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine.

The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

2310 Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.

Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.107

2311 Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way.108

2312 The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties.”109

2313 Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.

Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide.

2314 “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”110 A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes.

2315 The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations;111 it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

2316 The production and the sale of arms affect the common good of nations and of the international community. Hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and compromise the international juridical order.

2317 Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war/

So essentially: yeah, you can be pro-life, without buying this author’s arguments hook, line, and sinker. And if you’re Catholic, the Church basically disagrees with the author on several points.

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