Skip to content

Partisan Pro-Lifers

May 14, 2009

I can argue day and night about the partisan identification of the pro-life movement with the Republican party, how it is harming the culture of life, how it is a smokescreen for policies that go against Catholic social teaching, and how it ultimately does a great dis-service to the unborn — but no line of argument can come close to the emotional impact of this post by Tim Shipe. This is the real deal — a pro-life Democrat who ran for office on a platform of protecting the unborn, and also proposing something no politician seems willing to touch, regulating the activities of fertility clinics. His Republican opponent was pro-life in name (he had no accomplishments on this front, and was disinclined to talk about the issue) and further from Catholic teaching across the board than Mr. Shipe. And yet, Mr. Shipe was not only ignored by the pro-life movement, he was treated with derision and disdain. Some openly told him they only supported Republicans. Another was annoyed by his position on immigration — a position totally aligned with the bishops! This is the best evidence I have seem yet that it really is giant smokescreen. Many of these “pro-lifers” are exploiting the unborn for political reasons. And that is deeply sinful.

About these ads
52 Comments
  1. Joe Hargrave permalink
    May 14, 2009 7:27 pm

    I agree – the way Tim has been treated by the official pro-life movement has been shameful. Tim is a ‘full spectrum’ pro-lifer, meaning he is equally fervent in his support for different ways of taking on abortion.

    That said, I there is always a gap between the leaders and functionaries in a movement on the one hand, and the voters and supporters on the other. I think Tim’s message could find a popular response, but the problem is that he needs an apparatus to ‘boost the signal’, so to speak.

    I wish I knew an expedient way to create one.

  2. May 14, 2009 7:29 pm

    Your analysis is faulty and disingenuous. There are many Democrats that run on pro-life platforms that you fail to recognize. Some are at local and state levels and others at the national levels such as Senator Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania.

  3. May 14, 2009 8:09 pm

    “I can argue day and night about the partisan identification of the pro-life movement with the Republican party, how it is harming the culture of life, how it is a smokescreen for policies that go against Catholic social teaching, and how it ultimately does a great dis-service to the unborn”

    Oh good Grief. SO much evidence out of one Cngressional district. I think it was mentioned in the comments that by far was not the only example we should look at

    In fact in my native State of Louisiana(where again pro0 hoice legislation has been defeated early on in this legilature ) the pro-life movement is greatly bi-partisan. As I mentioned the Senate Pro-Tempe African American Democrat is very pro-life and pro-life groups are working to make sure after the Census the new black majority district is friendly to her.

    That same person appeared at the The GOvernor Mansion helping train young pro-life leaders with the wife of Bobby Jindal

    I could give other examples. I want the pro-life movement to be bi partisna. We lare lucky here where the Dem party does not prohibit those it happens.

    “This is the best evidence I have seem yet that it really is giant smokescreen. Many of these “pro-lifers” are exploiting the unborn for political reasons. And that is deeply sinful”

    You need to look better at evidence as a whole

  4. Joe Hargrave permalink
    May 14, 2009 9:38 pm

    Tito,

    Did Casey get any serious support from the grassroots pro-life movement? Or did they all line up behind Santorum?

    The people of PA voted for Casey because THEY wanted a pro-life Democrat. The official pro-life movement, from the account I read of his path to victory, played no role. They didn’t help him become a candidate; the DNC did that because they smelled Santorum’s weakness. They didn’t help him beat Santorum, because Santorum is a pro-life Republican.

    Granted, this is only one case. Maybe there are instances of say, NRLC or some other group, helping a pro-life Democrat. I’d like to hear about them.

  5. May 14, 2009 9:45 pm

    Joe, that’s a good point, the difference between the average voter and the pro-life organizations.

  6. May 14, 2009 11:20 pm

    Pro-life organizations and the leadership will sometimes differ from District to District. These people are Human. THey interact with people become friends with up and coming polticos and it is hard to tell them no

    I want the pro-life movement to be very bi-partisan and I have advocated the NRA as a role model how to handle this.

    Still at least where I am at the GOP is very pro-life and one congressional district does not tell the whole story

  7. May 14, 2009 11:24 pm

    Joe as to Casey there were problems with part of his abortion and “pro-life”platform that gave some people pause. As we have seen now even from Bishops

    Again the politics of this are difficult. There is whether it is a Democrat or Republican pro-lifer a “loyalty” factor for those that stood by you in the past and yeah that comes into play. It is a factor that actually has some merit and it is a tough call

  8. May 15, 2009 1:52 am

    Yes, Bob Casey, Jr., is not his father. But a major reason he won is that Santorum lost a lot of cred. among pro-lifers over not supporting Pat Toomey against Arlen Specter. PA is a different landscape.

    Now, I don’t buy the whole “Catholic social teaching” thing because I’ve read the Encyclicals, and I don’t see how the Democrats are any better than the Republicans on economics. I also know that the encyclicals ultimately give us a great deal of freedom in our economic views, *so long as we take subsidiarity and solidarity into account in forming them*. The only way the Democrats match “Catholic social teaching” is if you believe in Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s “seamless garment” garbage, and Bernardin being the center of the Lavender Mafia doesn’t exactly give him much credence as a Catholic bishop (see the most recent revelations of his protege Rembert Weakland).

    Also, since most staunch pro-lifers I know actually vote libertarian or constitution party, I don’t see how it’s a “smokescreen” for the GOP.

    But I do know three things:
    1) Pro-lifers don’t trust “pro-life” Democrats. I know people who insist they’re “pro-life” Democrats yet still give huge donations and support to very pro-choice politicians. There have been plenty of cases, including the mounting record of Bob Casey, Jr., of Democrats campaigning on being “pro-life” and then turning out to be “moderate,” at best. They’re still allying themselves with a party that is a) pro-choice, b) pro-contraception (as is the GOP), c) pro-divorce (as is the GOP, but Democrats are moreso), d) pro-homosexual rights. There *are* “more issues than just abortion.”

    2) We know that Democrats don’t like pro-lifers, even if they’re Democrats. I have family members who are Democrats, and Catholics, in Pennsylvania, and they don’t like the late Gov. Casey for his “forcing his morals on other people.” We had a pro-life Democrat get the Senate nomination against Leaping Lindsay Graham last year, and he was actively opposed by the Democratic Party. So pro-lifers figure a pro-life Democrat won’t win.

    3) The thing that annoys me about most NRLC-type pro-lifers is, in addition to the gutless “incrementalist” position they hold, they always insist taht a real pro-lifer “Can’t win.” “I like what Alan Keyes has to say, but he can’t win.” “I like what Pat Buchanan has to say, but he can’t win.” “I like what Mike Huckabee has to say, but he can’t win.” . . .

    Speaking of Mike Huckabee: here you had a candidate who was a) anti-abortion, b) anti-torture, c) pro-family, d) pro-homoschooling, e) anti-divorce, f) anti-public funding of contraception, g) in favor of universal health care *at the state level*, a candidate whom fair-minded observers said was the closets thing America has ever had to a European “Christian Democrat.”

    Did “social justice” liberal Catholics rally around Mike Huckabee for his beliefs that were consistent with “seamless garment”??? Did “pro-life” Republican Catholics rally behind him???

    No. It was “A Baptist minister will never get elected, especially after BUsh.” “We don’t like him because he’s too Evangelical.” “We don’t like him because he’s too moralistic” (These are all attitudes I’ve read from Republicans).

    As far as I’m concerned, Catholics in both parties have a serious problem in this regard.

  9. May 15, 2009 2:13 am

    Speaking of Mike Huckabee: here you had a candidate who was a) anti-abortion, b) anti-torture, c) pro-family, d) pro-homoschooling, e) anti-divorce, f) anti-public funding of contraception, g) in favor of universal health care *at the state level*, a candidate whom fair-minded observers said was the closets thing America has ever had to a European “Christian Democrat.”

    Did “social justice” liberal Catholics rally around Mike Huckabee for his beliefs that were consistent with “seamless garment”??? Did “pro-life” Republican Catholics rally behind him???

    “No. It was “A Baptist minister will never get elected, especially after BUsh.” “We don’t like him because he’s too Evangelical.” “We don’t like him because he’s too moralistic” (These are all attitudes I’ve read from Republicans).

    As far as I’m concerned, Catholics in both parties have a serious problem in this regard.”

    Let me say as a Huckabee Supporter I want to be very much in the amen corner, In fact you raise quite a few great points I was yelling.

    Yes Catholics should have taken a much greater look at Huckabee. But I also recognize Huck ran out of money and could not do the message.

    Also in the most ironic factor though his campaign was largely run by Catholics they did a horrible job of Catholic out reach

    Again poltics is complicated. I am pretty upset that a lot of people that give lip service to the biggest social justice issue outside abortion that being Immigration reform abandoned McCain. Even though Obama in 2006 gave the ultimate Judas moment and abandon us. YEt for the social Justice Catholics the regularizaton of millions that McCain promoted at great poltical cost was ignored and Obama ultimate Judas moment was ignored.

    It was an ultimate frustrating moment for me. It is still frustrating as I try to explain how the GOP can get the hispanic vote by listening to them My foes point well look at 2008. It is amazing uit in all likelihood imigration reform and the true bringing people out of the shadows would be in McCain’s first year. Obama has put this on the back burner.

    Yet this is ignored. Maybe it because the Catholic Social Justice leaders are pretty much white and want to see everything throught the comfortable black/white dynamic. Anyway they were AWOL and Ihaving a hard explaining to GOP folks why they should support their causes when they so abandoned McCain

    Maybe in a hindred years a PHD student at Columbia wil explore that isse in a Paper. But it is issue non gratia right now among the Catholic social justice types.

  10. Joe Hargrave permalink
    May 15, 2009 3:24 am

    JC,

    “I also know that the encyclicals ultimately give us a great deal of freedom in our economic views”

    It’s not that much freedom. Laissez-faire is out. The invisible hand is out. Markets are to be limited and regulated. Subsidiarity is not the only or even the most important principle. There are many others: the universal destination of goods, the primacy of labor over capital (yes, that exact phrase in the words of JP II), solidarity, etc.

    That said, I do agree with some recent commentary, in that I don’t necessarily think that this current government will regulate the economy in our best interests. Time will tell. In the end neither party is significantly ‘better’ on social justice. It’s a shell game most of the time. I only like the Democrats more at this point because I think they are less likely to start WWIII.

    I too was a supporter of Huckabee, however, and I would have made the exception for him, as an individual. So here’s one ‘social justice’ Catholic (its a shame that not every last Catholic is a social justice Catholic, since every Pope for the last 120 years has been, but oh well) that was for Huck.

  11. ron chandonia permalink
    May 15, 2009 7:28 am

    In general, the Democrats have nominated self-described pro-lifers only as opponents of incumbent Republicans who have taken strong positions against abortion. If elected, these pro-life Democrats support pro-abortion party officials and programs, so that their occasional pro-life votes are effectively canceled out. The pattern has been repeated so often (most recently in Pennsylvania) that pro-life Catholics are understandably reluctant to put their energies behind these candidacies.

    I also think Huckabee is really a better example of what MM is talking about here. Of all the presidential candidates last time around, he probably came closest to articulating “seamless garment” pro-life views, but his relatively liberal (for a Republican) positions kept him from getting the support of major pro-life organizations and many single-issue Catholics. Of course, Democrats generally hated him simply because he was pro-life.

  12. Kurt permalink
    May 15, 2009 8:53 am

    as to Casey there were problems with part of his abortion and “pro-life” platform that gave some people pause

    Yes. He took the “anti-life” position on campaign finance reform.

    pro-life groups are working to make sure after the Census the new black majority district is friendly to her…

    These people are Human. They interact with people become friends with up and coming polticos and it is hard to tell them no…

    Pro-lifers don’t trust “pro-life” Democrats.

    Maybe I’ve lowered the bar, but nowadays I have no problem with the above. It is good we have pro-lifers working to see that legislative districts are drawn favorably.

    It is good that pro-life political activists interact with candidates and people in public life and develop long term relationships with them.

    It is good that in addition to other factors, pro-life voters also ponder who they trust.

    Such things are probably helpful, maybe even essential, for the success of certain pro-life initiatives.

    Any guesses to where I am leading?

    I will defend those who say “Because of my pro-life beliefs, I am supporting this legislative re-districting plan” or “I am supporting this person for Sewer Commissioner because I know her well and she is talented, trustworthy and pro-life and I think will advance to higher office some day.”

    My problem is when others are told “You are not Catholic; you should not go to communion; you cannot speak at a Catholic college” because they don’t support the “pro-life” gerrymandering plan, or they don’t support the “pro-life” candidate for Sewer Commissioner, or they don’t come to the same conclusion as to someone’s trustworthiness.

    That is the real issue, and with all due respect, it is a bunch of crap when Right Wing Catholic laypersons say these things and an even bigger pile of crap when the Bishop of Scranton or the former bishop of St. Louis says these or similar things.

  13. Kurt permalink
    May 15, 2009 8:55 am

    the 4th and 5th paragraphs in the above are quotes from previous psoters and should have been bolded

  14. May 15, 2009 9:06 am

    Minion:

    The situation seems less about pro-lifers being Republican hacks as having pro-life groups having absolutely no trust in Democrats to fight for the pro-life cause. How often has a Democrat stood up for life? How often do they (cough Casey Jr, cough cough) talk a great game then wilt under pressure from the party? How often has a Democrat talked about alternative ways to reduce abortion, yet gotten into office and done nothing? Perhaps many Republicans are pro-life in name only, but they usually cast the votes for judges and for partial-birth bans, etc when we need them.

    The pro-life movement has no reason to trust the Democratic party. Is this a good thing? No. The pro-life movement should be bipartisan.

    The question becomes how Democrats like you (I think you’re Democrat, correct me if I’m wrong) can win the trust of the party. On a national level, this is “easy”

    -Lobby Obama to pick to a pro-life judge for SCOTUS; if he doesn’t, join with the opposition.
    -Lobby the democratic party to pass programs and laws specifically designed to meet the needs of women in crisis pregnancies.

    I think if neither one of these is done by 2010, pro-life voters who have been disgusted with the GOP will start booting out the Democrats who lied to them about the sincerity of their pro-life convictions, just as they booted out Republicans who didn’t do enough.

  15. May 15, 2009 9:10 am

    Vox Nova administrator(s):

    Why am I on moderation?

  16. May 15, 2009 9:25 am

    Why am I on moderation?

    No idea, nothing to do with me.

  17. M.Z. permalink
    May 15, 2009 9:28 am

    MD,
    You hit a keyword.

  18. May 15, 2009 9:40 am

    MM:

    I didn’t think it did. I thought maybe Michael I. had put me on, but I thought I had been taken off.

    MZ:

    Interesting. Do you know what keyword I hit? [I emailed it to you just now.]

  19. May 15, 2009 9:47 am

    As I said on the original AC post, I think that (especially his first time around) some of those local pro-life organization leaders treated Tim shabbily, and we should do better than that. I’m I pretty partisan Republican in most ways, so if I’m saying that (and Paul Zuommo and Jay Anderson are saying that) then perhaps things aren’t as clear cut as you’re drawing here.

    That said, keep in mind what is being asked for here. Tim needed people to walk blocks and get signatures for him. If I were in his district, I’d have gone ahead and done that for him because I think he’s a good guy who would make a good state rep. However, it’d be a bit of a stretch, given that if I’m walking the block talking to registered Democrats who’ll be voting in the primary I’d have to cover for a lot of my honestly held political opinions in making the argument for Tim.

    Picture this, if someone you knew from your parish, who was a strong conservative and disagreed with you on a lot of prudential issues but was very strong on pro-life issues (and let’s make it easier and say he’s anti-Iraq war and anti-death penalty and has spoken loudly against torture) came to you and said he was trying to get on the GOP ticket in order to run against a nominally pro-life Democrat (whom you agreed with a lot more on prudential issues) in the general election — would you necessarily drop everything and go off to spend ten hours a week helping him get signatures? Or would you wish him well, give him a written endorsement, and stay home — which is basically what Tim’s GOP-leaning pro-life organization leadership did during his second run?

    I really want to see good Catholic guys like Tim Shipe and Eric Brown get somewhere in politics, but at the same time, you’ve got to admit, it’s hard to convince people to cross party lines to work for a candidate. I don’t see you working on a primary campaign for me, not matter how much we agree on life issues. And unfortunately, partisan Democrats who are strongly pro-life Catholics are very, very thin on the ground. So guys like Tim are stuck having to ask Republicans to help them do ground work for them, because the local Democrats don’t want to turn out either.

  20. May 15, 2009 9:49 am

    Interesting that Huckabee was mentioned. I thought Huckabee was by far the best of the GOP candidates, but that’s faint praise! I don’t think he’s that close to CST on issues from war, the death penalty, health care, and the economy. And is he really anti-torture? I think this is uncertain. In this clip, he makes fun of torture, Palin style, and seems to endorse Fox News consequentialism? He also claimed, in respnse to a question, that “we have received good solid information from individuals from doing things of the nature you’re describing, and saved American lives because of it.”

  21. May 15, 2009 9:52 am

    Darwin — I would expect the pro-life groups, whose reason for existence is reducing abortion and granting legal protection to the unborn, would support a pro-life candidate in any party. Who various individuals decide to help and support is a different matter.

  22. May 15, 2009 10:13 am

    MM,

    True, but a pro-life organization is made up of individual members. As Tim explained, on the second go around they did what they should have in the first place in that they gave him a written endorsement. However, they didn’t provide him with volunteers to walk the blocks and get signatures.

    I wish they had been able to, because I think Tim is a great guy, but consider: You live in a majority Democrat area and tend to vote for Democrats. If you were a member of a pro-life action group and an email when out saying, “Brendan Hodge is trying to get the GOP nomination for the state legislature in our district — a district currently held uncontested by a nominally pro-life Democrat. He wants people to walk the blocks and help him gather signatures for the nomination, and hopes to unseat the incumbant in the fall.”

    Would you rush out to volunteer? If nearly everyone in the group was of your leanings, would they?

    What I’m trying to point out here is that while part of the problem is that some of the pro-life leadership acted in an overly partisan fashion — the other problem is that Tim was apparently the _only_ strong pro-life Democrat working in pro-life circles in his district. And with very, very few pro-life Democrats on the ground, it’s not surprising that it was hard to convince people who honestly held Republican positions on other issues to campaign for someone they disagreed with.

    It seems to me the take-away is: Time for pro-life liberals to go find a lot of pro-choice liberal friends and turn them around on life issues, rather than getting mad that pro-life conservatives aren’t helping them enough in general elections.

  23. Mark Gordon permalink
    May 15, 2009 10:17 am

    If MM’s point (something often difficult to discern) is that pro-lifers ought to be flocking to the Democratic Party, it is absurd. Hackery on behalf of the Dems is still hackery.

    Pro-lifers coalesced around the GOP because they were welcomed and because their central issue was taken seriously, both in the party platform and in public policy. Many of them had been lifelong Democrats before defecting. Were they co-opted? Yes. Were they often seduced into supporting policies and candidates that contradicted their underlying convictions? Yes. Has the pro-life identification with the Republican Party been unhealthy and counterproductive? Yes.

    But people like MM and Kurt never acknowledge that a principal cause of this situation was the relentless hostility of the Democratic Party toward the anti-abortion movement over the past thirty years. They condemn pro-lifers for having been co-opted by the right, but never condemn the Democratic Party – and especially “pro-choice” Catholic politicians – for having been co-opted, whole and entire, by the abortion lobby. All of which reveals their entreaties, arguments and insults to be nothing more than partisan hackery on behalf of the Democratic Party. Which, needless to say, is every bit as corrupt and corrupting as Republican hackery.

  24. Mark Gordon permalink
    May 15, 2009 10:23 am

    I must have hit a keyword, too. Perhaps “hackery.”

  25. jonathanjones02 permalink
    May 15, 2009 10:27 am

    Mark: correct. By far the biggest obstacle to legislation extending legal protections to the unborn (which every Catholic in positions of public responsibility must support – otherwise they need to be honest and drop the Catholic claim) is the utter hostility of the funders, supporters, and elected officials of the Democratic Party.

    By far. They have been bought wholesale by the abortion lobby. To recognize this is not to defend Republicans – it is to lament the sad decline of a party that once claimed to support the “little people” – and to make that claim now is a mockery.

  26. M.Z. permalink
    May 15, 2009 10:30 am

    It is counterproductive to play the woe to us game. The gal walking around thinking that guys don’t call her may be correct that they are being superficial, but stating that isn’t going to get her a guy any sooner. It is the job of interests to make themselves appealing to parties. So as to not be accused of being sexist, it is the job of those who want to be called to be appealing to callers.

    What isn’t being discussed and what was half of Tim’s point was that the leadership wouldn’t lead. The NRA would have no trouble turning its supporters from supporting a Republican in favor of gun control to a Democrat in favor of gun rights. Yes, I’m saying the pro-life movement would have difficulty getting its members to support a pro-life Democrat over a pro-choice Republican. This is why there was such a push to organize against Giuliani. If Giuliani would have been the nominee, there were plenty of pro-life voters and even groups ready to vote for him.

  27. Kurt permalink
    May 15, 2009 10:44 am

    Mark,

    You use the word “hackery” as if it is bad thing! :)

    Pro-lifer should hack as their judgment leads them. I’m not trying to tell them otherwise. Just don’t make hackery a condition for approching the communion rail.

    Lastly, the accusations against Senator Casey are unjust. And the statement that he is different from his father are simply dishonest.

  28. May 15, 2009 11:11 am

    Mark:

    I think you bring up a good point. Many Catholics have largely became Republican based on the abortion issue and the Democrats’ failure on it. Voting GOP in 2004 and still have large parts vote GOP in 2008 would have been unheard of.

    MZ put this in relationship terms, so I will shamelessly imitate him. If a guy dumps a girl for a “prettier” girl, it is unbecoming of the dumped girl to beg the guy to take her back. The guy did the wrong; he should be the one proving to the girl that he was wrong and that she’s welcome.

    Democrats need to prove to Catholics that they were wrong to embrace the pro-abortion movement and that they’re willing to take them back. They need to show that they will fight for some pro-life causes and in the short term buck against the party and take some flack. This is why these next two years are so important. This is the moment that a Catholic Democrat should shine. They have the ear of the president and a Democratic super-majority. Something should be done to save lives and there’s no more excuses.

    If they don’t, then there’s really no reason for us to beg for them to take us back.

  29. May 15, 2009 11:17 am

    The real issue here is not why Catholics choose between different political parties. The issue is instead that jaded institutions of the pro-life movement have been coopted by the Republican party. The issue is that some of these people are using the unborn as a Trojan horse to bring in the kinds of policies that do not exactly gel with Catholic teaching.

  30. May 15, 2009 12:18 pm

    So, if the GOP just simply closed down, by what process would the Democratic Party become pro-life?

  31. May 15, 2009 12:20 pm

    How do those like MM who subscribe to the, “stridency and partisanship are runining the pro-life movement” theory reconcile that with the recent poll results showing a surge in pro-life self-identification to over 50%, even with a popular president who would not so self-identify.

    It seems that someone is doing something right, and maybe it would be more in the interests of the unborn to honor that than to dig up three year old events to imply that the pro-life movement is unworthy of support.

    And I again question that if it is indeed the case that the pro-life movement is too strongly tied to the Republican Party, wouldn’t the best path to remedy that be for pro-life Democrats and independents to get involved and pull it away rather than carp from the sidelines. I’m reminded of St. Blog’s whines from men that they can’t get involved in parish activites because they’re “too feminine.”

  32. mary permalink
    May 15, 2009 12:33 pm

    JC

    “Speaking of Mike Huckabee: here you had a candidate who was a) anti-abortion, b) anti-torture, c) pro-family, d) pro-homoschooling, e) anti-divorce, f) anti-public funding of contraception, g) in favor of universal health care *at the state level*, a candidate whom fair-minded observers said was the closets thing America has ever had to a European “Christian Democrat.”

    American observers misunderstand what a European “Christian Democrat”is. In Italy the Christian Democrat party approved the abortion law, most of members are pro-choice ( abortion should be legal in most cases.)
    And sure they are in favour of contraception. We don’t have homeschooling, the laws forbid it.

    They are so much pro-family that many in fact have TWO families!

  33. May 15, 2009 1:12 pm

    So, if the GOP just simply closed down, by what process would the Democratic Party become pro-life?

    Who cares whether the GOP is “closed down” or not? I don’t and neither should you. What matters is how Catholic social teaching is reflected in the public square. And that is not limited to two anachronistic parties in an anachronistic political system.

  34. May 15, 2009 1:17 pm

    How do those like MM who subscribe to the, “stridency and partisanship are runining the pro-life movement” theory reconcile that with the recent poll results showing a surge in pro-life self-identification to over 50%, even with a popular president who would not so self-identify.

    I was very glad to see these results. What you forget is that similar polls show identification with the GOP running at 21 percent, possibly the lowest support in recorded history. If we are to persuade the great middle to protect the unborn — especially the increasing politically-motivated younger generation– then it must be done credibly. In other words, it cannot be done by identifying with a southern regional party that believes in torture and bombing people, kicking out immigrants, making fun of global warming, refusing to tackle health care etc. It can only be done as part of a consistent ethic of life. Here’s my prediction: if pro-lifers were as opposed to war and torture over the past few years as they were against abortion, these poll numbers might be higher.

  35. May 15, 2009 1:32 pm

    “Speaking of Mike Huckabee: here you had a candidate who was a) anti-abortion, b) anti-torture, c) pro-family, d) pro-homoschooling, e) anti-divorce, f) anti-public funding of contraception, g) in favor of universal health care *at the state level*, a candidate whom fair-minded observers said was the closets thing America has ever had to a European “Christian Democrat.””

    I’m sure its a type-error, but there is some irony in Huckabee being “pro-homoschooling” if he ascribes to the Dobson belief that homosexuals can be educated out of their disposition.

  36. May 15, 2009 1:33 pm

    I couldn’t find the number you refer to. If my understanding is correct, then it would support, rather than undercut my point. A theme of the posts here is that the pro-life movement has lashed itself to the sinking ship of the Republican Party. Pro-life self-identification rising while GOP self-identification is falling would be evidence that this is not the case.

    This leads to one of two conclusions:

    * The pro-life movement has not sold itself out to the Republican Party as much as some would suggest.

    * This association has not been as damaging as these posts would suggest.

  37. Kurt permalink
    May 15, 2009 1:36 pm

    Democrats need to prove to Catholics that they were wrong to embrace the pro-abortion movement and that they’re willing to take them back

    Ummm. The Catholics already ARE back. 54% on election day and two-thirds approving of the President today.

    Now let’s talk about pro-lifers. 23% say abortion should ways be illegal and 50% call themselves pro-life. That means 27% of self-described pro-lifers are not welcome in the pro-life movement and in the opinion of some, should not be welcome in the Catholic Church.

    This poll may mean that a segment have started to call themselves pro-life inspired by the effort for abortion reduction so firmly rejected by the pro-life establishment and the Catholic Right.

  38. May 15, 2009 1:54 pm

    There are degrees to any movement.

    Does being in favor of “gay rights” necesarily entail favoring same sex marriage?

    Does being in favor of “civil rights” imply favoring reparations?

    Does Obama’s support of Afghanistan mean he doesn’t quialify as “anti-war?”

    —-

    Some would say yes. Must those people shut up in order for those movements to gain steam? Would someone with sympathy for those movements devote the preponderance of their commentary to how off-putting the extremists are?

    —-

    If the pro-life movement has so firmly rejected abortion reduction mechanisms, how could someone who only favors such things self-identify as pro-life?

  39. Kurt permalink
    May 15, 2009 1:55 pm

    But at least Senator Hendren is pro-life:

    “I don’t speak with a TelePrompTer, and if I had, that reference would have never made it in there” — Arkansas U.S. Senate candidate/current state Sen. Kim Hendren (R), on why he recently referred to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as “that Jew”

  40. May 15, 2009 2:06 pm

    Hmm, Kurt, as far as I can tell, your post is the first mention of Sen. Hendren on this thread. One might think you’re looking for reasons to dismiss people.

    But let’s unpack what you’re saying:

    Apparently, it is completely unreasonable for pro-lifers to not accept politicians comitted against all legal protections for the unborn, and who actively enact policies to use them in research. That’s the kind of intolerant attitude people are sick of.

    On the other hand, the pro-life movement should be discredited if a state senator who identifies himself as pro-life makes an extemperaneous racially insensitive remark, for which he apologized.

    Somethings are to be tolerated, other things not, apparently.

  41. May 15, 2009 2:21 pm

    Again, to be clear — I do not self identify as a Republican. I did not vote for McCain in last year’s elections, and if I were forced to vote for one of the major party candidates, I would have voted for Obama, and pray that he will be successful. I have no interest in the Republican Party, other than I think it best that there be two strong parties in place.

    Still, I think that with the Democrats in control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, and being very wrong on a fundamental issue of our time, and moving the laws in that direction, I find it odd to dwell on the problems with the Republicans.

    The same would be true of Republicans carping about the Democrats on abortion around 2005.

  42. Kurt permalink
    May 15, 2009 2:56 pm

    John,

    Go back and read my first post on this thread. I don’t see how you think I find what you describe to be completely unreasonable. What I have a probem with are those that don’t allow others to reason (at least when other people’s reasoning reaches a different conclusion than their own).

    Let a thousand flowers bloom. As you say, there are degrees in any movement. But what I have no tolerance for is Burke, Martino and those who deny access to the sacraments because someone doesn’t support their “pro-life” gerrymandering plan.

    Oh, and the Hendren comment was just for self-amusement. :)

  43. May 15, 2009 3:39 pm

    If the pro-life movement has so firmly rejected abortion reduction mechanisms, how could someone who only favors such things self-identify as pro-life?

    What do you meant “firmly rejected abortion reduction mechanisms?” I think it may be fair to say that they don’t push them too often (perhaps out of political necessity: GOP doesn’t want to spend money on poor people, Democrats don’t want to undercut spending for Planned Parenthood), but I don’t think they reject them out of hand (save for contraception and other anti-life “solutions”)

  44. May 15, 2009 3:52 pm

    My point was that the following statements do not go together:

    * The pro-life movement has been engaged is a destructive policy of insisting on a very high bar one must clear in order to be considered pro-life, banishing those who are not in lock-step agreement with the right wing’s methods to end abortion.

    * Many of those newly self-identifying as pro-life are soft on the issue and would not be welcomed by the pro-life movement.

    The only way I think this would be the case would be if the media played up the more moderate parts of the pro-life movement, and played down more extremist voices, so that people associated “pro-life” with things like the 95/10 initiative rather than overturning Roe v. Wade, and these people will be in for a shock when they see what the pro-life movement is really all about.

    To understate things, this does not mesh with my experience of the media’s coverage of the pro-life movement.

  45. Mark Gordon permalink
    May 15, 2009 5:31 pm

    MM wrote: The issue is instead that jaded institutions of the pro-life movement have been coopted by the Republican party. The issue is that some of these people are using the unborn as a Trojan horse to bring in the kinds of policies that do not exactly gel with Catholic teaching.

    To which I say the issue is instead that jaded institutions of the anti-poverty (or trade union, or peace) movement have been coopted by the Democratic party. The issue is that some of these people are using the poor (or workers, or peace) as a Trojan horse to bring in the kinds of policies that do not exactly gel with Catholic teaching.

    This game is easy, and it can be played all day long. One thing you won’t read is MM blasting the Democratic Party for its official endorsement of the abortion license (or anything else, for that matter). Hackery at its florid finest.

  46. May 16, 2009 8:28 am

    Joe,
    “Subsidiarity is not the only or even the most important principle.”
    Again, I argue that it *is* if you see subsidiarity as, basically, to borrow the name from an inappropriately named pro-contraception group, “Focus on the Family.”

    “There are many others: the universal destination of goods, the primacy of labor over capital (yes, that exact phrase in the words of JP II), solidarity, etc.”
    Sure, but how we *balance* those is largely up to us. Obviously, laissez-faire is out, but so is outright state control.

    For example, one person might call for “universal health care,” while another might point out that “workeers have a right to ownership of their labor,” which precludes socialism.

    So long as we are honestly considering all the factors, we have freedom in how we apply or emphasize them.

  47. May 16, 2009 8:30 am

    mary,
    Interesting observations. I’ve heard many different tihngs about “Christian Democrats,” and was trying to give the benefit of the doubt.

    There’s also the recent case of the ruling “Christian Democrats” in Austria ordering a state-owned, FSSP-staffed church to install a freestanding altar.

  48. Gabriel Austin permalink
    May 17, 2009 4:24 pm

    Kurt Says:
    May 15, 2009

    “That is the real issue, and with all due respect, it is a bunch of crap when Right Wing Catholic laypersons say these things and an even bigger pile of crap when the Bishop of Scranton or the former bishop of St. Louis says these or similar things”.

    What are “Right Wing Catholic laypersons”?. Is this a political group? Or is it merely an attempted slur?

    Joe Hargrave Says:
    May 14, 2009:
    “I agree – the way Tim has been treated by the official pro-life movement has been shameful”.

    What is “the official pro-life movement”?

  49. May 17, 2009 6:52 pm

    Candidates like Tim Shipe do not get the support from the pro-life movement or the Democratic Party that they deserve. The pro-life movement is far too aligned with the Republican Party. Becoming part of the Reagan coalition may have been a plausible strategy back in the 80’s but the Republican Party is now in decline.

    The social conservative voter base is disproportionately rural, white and middle aged to older. At the same time, the pro-life movement has largely failed in efforts to mobilize the segments of the population likely to support a right-to-life agenda in the future. African Americans, Hispanics and young people are all very important to the future of the pro-life movement. Finding a way to mobilize these segments of the population to move the Democratic Party toward a more pro-life stance seems more plausible than realigning these voters into the GOP.

    It seems to me that one obvious stategy would be for pro-lifers to target mostly African American and Hispanic districts and elect favorable candidates as Democrats. Since these districts are already heavily Democratic, this approach is unlikely to have any impact on the party balance of power but would certainly help to transform the Democratic Party from within on life issues.

  50. Kurt permalink
    May 18, 2009 8:39 am

    Gabriel,

    I did not mean to slur Right Wingers. There are a great many honorable conservatives and people on the Right who find the actions I mentioned just as offensive as I do. I have great respect for those conservatives who would not demean themselves nor demean the Sacraments in the way some do.

Trackbacks

  1. Man Bites Blog » Blog Archive » Off Topic
  2. Pro-Life as Caricature: Rebranding the movement : Aprehendite disciplinam

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 887 other followers

%d bloggers like this: