It’s About the Babies
Some criticism came my way after a recent post on Australia’s Pro-Life Music Competition. Apparently, a group in the background of the event’s organisation is no longer to be trusted in pro-life circles. They may have softened their stance on some important moral issues - but abortion is not one of them.
This criticism raises a few questions for me, and reminds me of some advice I received from an American pro-lifer when I first started to get involved.
It was during the course of an interview that I asked how it was possible for his umbrella organisation to reach out to people of all denominations - also to pro-life Jewish and Moslem people - yet still retain their Catholic identity. He answered me simply, “It’s about the babies.”
Then I asked him how it was that the US had made such great progress with pro-life legislation in recent years; he answered that the major organisations had consciously decided to keep their disagreements out of the public arena and to work together more.
They decided that, “It’s about the babies.”
Now, most, if not all, Australian pro-lifers would unhesitatingly state that it’s ‘about the babies.’ But in practice, that isn’t necessarily so.
Coming, as I do, from Tasmania, where the pool of pro-lifers is very small, I know how difficult it can be to change the status quo. My experience there was that every event had to be approved by the reigning pro-life ‘leaders’. If approved, the event had a chance of success. Attendees were told by the organisers that the ‘leaders’ had okayed the event. This was the case for talks, marches, sidewalk advocacy, public witness - any pro-life event, large or small.
Conversely, there was little chance of organising a successful event without this approval. Ask me how I know.
The people in question were undoubtably good and completely pro-life, but their ideas are fixed. Nothing fresh was allowed in. New ideas were stifled. Entities known as “organisations” were often dictatorships.
When things like this are allowed to happen, we need to ask ourselves, is it still “about the babies?”
This brings me to another question: at what point do we draw the line in regard to the people with whom we choose to deal? Must they agree with us absolutely?
What criteria are we to use for accepting help, money, services?
What if an organisation or private person wants to donate money to our cause: do we need to check the source of that money?
For example, if the owner of a newsagency wants to donate money, do we need to check whether or not there are ‘soft porn’ magazines like Cosmo, on sale in their store?
Or, if a chemist wants to donate, do we need to check whether they sell contraceptives? What about a pro-life doctor, who wants to donate some time to an organisation? Do we need to check whether or not he prescribes contraceptives?
Do donors need to be Christian? Do they need to be practising? What if they approve of same-sex ‘marriage’ but are 100% pro-life?
What about groups such as Secular Pro-life? Gays and Lesbians for Life? Is their help acceptable?
Where do we draw the line and who is the arbiter of that line?
There is another point to be made here, perhaps the most important one of all, and which is one of my main reasons behind starting this website.
The tagline of this site is: personal holiness for pro-life Catholics, but could as easily apply to Christians of all denominations.
Before I began pro-life work, before I ever prayed outside an abortion facility, or contacted any pro-lifer, or joined any Facebook group or wrote any blogposts, I had heard about The Rift among Australia’s main pro-life groups. Knowledge of this enormous division was a kind of prequel to my pro-life work.
This lack of unity is scandalous.
Has anyone ever heard that before? THIS DIVISION IS SCANDALOUS.
And all the more so to me, because many of the people involved are Catholics.
What I have heard since then is even worse: slander, gossip, attempts at, and threats of legal action, betrayals, lying and much more. I’m sure what I know is only the tip of a very nasty iceberg.
SO, how is it possible to justify bad behaviour under the guise of effective pro-life work?
It. Is. Not.
When we are on our death-beds, God won’t be judging us according to the size of the organisation we are involved with or according to its effectiveness. He won’t ask how many babies we helped save, since He is the one Who provides the Grace for this to happen anyway.
He will be judging us solely on our efforts to achieve sanctity, in union with His Grace.
If He brought us in to the pro-life movement, then He wants us to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’, (Phil 2:12) through our action in that sphere. Even ending abortion is not an end in itself.
We are meant to light up the darkness of this ‘crooked and perverse generation’, not add to it.
We’re meant to be counter-cultural by our radical charity and faith.
We have it in us, by the help of God, to build a culture of life and light.
So, if we decide not to support a pro-life effort that has the potential to reach a greater and more diverse audience, that brings young people into the cause and that actively promotes an authentic Culture of Life, are we still “All About the Babies”?