Agree With Me, Or You Are Not Really Pro-life

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on delicious
Delicious
Share on digg
Digg
Share on stumbleupon
StumbleUpon
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

abortion and welfare

 

Mark Shea is back to his old trick of saying that unless you agree with me on policy issue x which is not directly related to abortion, you are not really pro-life.  It is an attempt to stop debate on policy issue x, at least among pro-lifers.  Mike Gannon at Pocketful of Liberty takes the argument apart:

 

This past Tuesday over at Patheos, Mark Shea, noted gadfly of Catholics and other Christians who come down on the small government side of the aisle, authored a post that started out with the provocative assertion “If we oppose abortion and social safety nets, we don’t really oppose abortion.”

Balderdash, I say!

Now, that’s a qualified balderdash, as I explain below. Mark Shea is a complicated thinker who is usually worth giving a second look (halfway through the piece he denounces the idolatry of the individual and the state in the same breath, demonstrating the difficulty one has at putting him neatly into this or that political box). Nonetheless, in this piece Shea falls victim to the temptation to cast aspersions on fellow pro-lifers who at the same time harbor serious concerns about the scope of our modern welfare state.

It’s a cheap trick that is all too common in political discourse to attempt to strong-arm a fellow traveler into lockstep with one’s own preferred platform by questioning their commitment to the cause if they disagree over tactics or emphases.

Go here to read the rest.  Now, personally I have always believed that government should help support those who, through no fault of their own, are unable to work due to injury, illness, physical handicap or mental handicap.  That belief is one of the reasons why I am a conservative rather than a libertarian.  However, I protest against the counterfeit logic that states that if someone is against the State providing such welfare they cannot be committed pro-lifers against abortion.  That is as ludicrous as stating that I cannot be against child murder unless I am willing to have the state assume all the expenses of parenthood.  One can be against killing someone without also being willing to assume the burdens of those whose lives are saved.  Shea’s argument is actually just a variant of the pro-abort taunt that pro-lifers only care about kids up to birth.  For the vast majority of pro-lifers that taunt is absurd as the charitable works of those who embrace the pro-life cause substantiates.  I think of the ladies who staff the crisis pregnancy center in my county who often help women for years after they have given birth.  However, the argument is ludicrous at its core in its contention that one may not be whole-heartedly against the slaying of the innocent unless one is also in favor of an all-embracing welfare state.  Those two questions are confusing apples and rock salt and for a pro-lifer to use this argument is an indication that for him the fight against abortion may be merely a means to other ends.

 

More to explorer

Saint of the Day Quote: Saint John the Dwarf

Humility and the fear of God are above all virtues. Saint John the Dwarf

PopeWatch: Subtle

From the General Audience of the Pope yesterday:   Dear brothers and sisters: In our catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles,

The Value of Work

Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of

24 Comments

  1. One of many reasons for which I rarely read anything Mark Shea writes. Prosperity comes after obedience to God. A nation that murders its unborn will be punished by material poverty because it is spiritually impoverished and no amount of govt welfare can fix that. Bread and circuses did not work for Caligula and will not work for Obama no matter what Mark Shea proclaims to the contrary.

  2. I did a year of welfare work in NY City after college as I waited to enter the military. You need welfare but it must be monitored with severity. If you leave out severe monitoring, you destroy the Matrimony stats of the group in question. Non severe monitoring produces babies with nomadic fathers and those babies rob the welfare money that should be going to those who need welfare due to layoffs, desertion by legal spouse or mental illness. God in scripture says, ” Those who do not work, shall not eat “…. but that presumes there is work. The unnecessary slothful welfare clients are part of the reason many of our mentally ill will never receive the therapy they need which is expensive. A paranoid schizophrenic with no family is given enough money to live in a bad neighborhood where her paranoia is actually correct. If all sloths were weeded off welfare, we could put her in a much safer neighborhood.
    I remember Gladys M. who had that situation. Welfare gave her enough to live in a dangerous part of lower Manhattan. I remember a mentally ill couple who lived on east 4th street where I carried a weapon as I walked up flights to visit them and passed a long line of guys waiting for admittance to a heroin apartment on a floor below my clients.

  3. Another issue that Mark Shea didn’t take into account (and I posted a comment to this effect at his blog): we don’t do the unborn any favors by expanding social safety nets indefinitely beyond our ability to pay for them and running up gargantuan levels of national debt, which THEY will have to pay off, in the process. There’s a big difference between being totally opposed to ALL social safety nets and being opposed to a level of safety net coverage that is unsustainable and requires onerous levels of taxation to sustain.

  4. Mary De Voe,
    In my one year of welfare work, I threw a prostitute off welfare in Manhattan and her pimp came to the office and threatened me with his own death penalty. He was quite pro “the life”.

  5. Don, why should the government be involved in any sort of support for the handicapped, the mentally ill or handicapped, injury victims et al? The last time I looked at the Constitution, no provision was made for a welfare state. Historically, this has been the responsibility of the family, the church, and other private institutions.

  6. “[W]hy should the government be involved in any sort of support for the handicapped, the mentally ill or handicapped, injury victims et al?”
    .
    I agree. How is the government supposed to perform the “severe monitoring”? It seems to me that can only happen when one is intimately knowledgeable about the person in question who needs help. Even at the local level, I find it difficult to believe that a government bureaucrat really knows his clients. One welfare person might have a legitimate reason to have a Mercedes car. Another might not. One might actually need medical MJ. Not so with someone else. I know one “economically fragile” person with a much nicer cell plan than what I have. I have a much nicer internet plan that what she has (she borrows my Wi-Fi several times a week because she doesn’t have Wi-Fi and her smart phone can’t do everything.) I can react much more quickly with monetary (and other) aid than the local government can, if asked, and if I think theirs a legit reason. I can also say “No; you waste too much money on tattoos, drinking, smoking, junk food, and sex.” People often end up in bad economic circumstances due to sin.
    .
    It also needs to be remembered that the government bureaucrat is not spending his own money, but someone else’s. There is no personal motivation for him to economize. It used to be that the government didn’t hand out all the freebies. Now look: we turn to the “non-judgmental” government, and not our supposedly judgmental churches and neighbors who know us only too well. The government has grown very large; our churches and neighbors unimportant.

  7. “Don, why should the government be involved in any sort of support for the handicapped, the mentally ill or handicapped, injury victims et al?”

    Because otherwise a good many of those people would starve. Such provisions have been made by governments in this country long before the advent of the welfare state. One of the problems with the welfare state is that it takes a fairly minor duty of government and transforms it into the be all and end all of government. The welfare state had no greater foe than Calvin Coolidge and he had precisely the same view as I do.

    The expansion of the welfare state of course takes away the ability of government to target the truly needy. More perniciously an expansive welfare state sucks initiative from many people and allows government to manipulate populations through large welfare systems that a majority of the population, in one form or another, and to a greater or lesser extent becomes hooked to.

  8. “There’s a big difference between being totally opposed to ALL social safety nets and being opposed to a level of safety net coverage that is unsustainable and requires onerous levels of taxation to sustain.”

    Good point Elaine. Anyone who can’t see that the modern welfare states are dying and need massive reform simply haven’t been paying attention.

  9. “[W]hy should the government be involved in any sort of support for the handicapped, the mentally ill or handicapped, injury victims et al?”

    The real question is “Why should the Federal government be involved in any sort of support for the handicapped, the mentally ill or handicapped, injury victims et al?” Under the original vision of Federalism welfare is solely the province of the states. Now it is true that a modern national economy can require a coordination of benefits across state lines, but this could have been done with interstate compacts. The federalization of welfare and other social programs will someday be viewed as an historic mistake.

  10. Mac,

    Do you read Shea in the spirit of mortification (from a meditation on the Second Sorrowful Mystery)?

    I will not go into why the state (federal or states) has the power to take from some citizens to give to other citizens.

    Or, into: “Render unto Caesar . . . and to God the things of God.:”

    Or, wherein the state taking other people’s money to do your works of charity, which is like me doing your push-ups. You will not get any physical fitness benefit from my sweat. Coercive state takings for welfare (and voting for pro-abortion) don’t do anything for one’s spiritual well-being.

    It’s almost 10PM (pretty sure my children are where they should be) and the warden is in another state. I can have another cold beer.

    Regards to all (including Shea),

    Shaw

  11. “Do you read Shea in the spirit of mortification”

    No, rather one of curiosity which is the main reason for all my reading that is non-professional. Shea is an interesting case study of someone who began as a conservative and has altered his politics to have them closely align with the various current policy positions embraced by the Church. Since no American political party embraces such a helter-skelter bundle of beliefs this has caused Shea to embrace a pox on both your houses attitude toward both parties, although his bitterness towards the Republican party seems more intense. Making your religion your politics is as unsatisfying as making your politics your religion. It also leads, in Shea’s case, to a desire to pretend that the Church has always held positions that she has in fact held for only the last nanosecond in historical terms, the current anti-death penalty position of the Church for instance. My politics are informed by my Catholicism, most notably in regard to the unyielding opposition of the Church to abortion, but it is not decisive in most areas, especially since I am enough of a historian to realize that the Church has held contradictory positions on many political issues, depending upon the personal preferences of the pope of the day, and that the Church wisely allows her sons and daughters to make up their own minds on most issues.

  12. While the current welfare state is atrocious, I don’t think there is any doubt that cutting benefits will lead to more abortions. I’m comfortable with that trade-off but I don’t think it’s possible to deny that it is true.

  13. The problem with Shea’s argument is that the data is not so clear. He notes that 42% (or something like that) of women who have abortions are at or below the poverty level. At first glance this may be so. But when one reads more closely this an other studies, the data is complex. Women frequently cite more than one reason for abortion one of which is not be able to afford another child. I say another, because most of those who cite such a reason have several children and are young. Other factors include interference with work or relationship problems. Some even cite unwillingness to go on public assistance. So its not a clear correlation with poverty.

    In fact it seems that much of the problem is related to the breakdown of the family. If so, and if current welfare police contribute to such a breakdown, then decreasing the welfare state might actually reduce abortion.

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.pdf

  14. “‘Do you read Shea in the spirit of mortification”
    No, rather one of curiosity which is the main reason for all my reading that is non-professional.”

    It was a rhetorical question.

    Anyhow, my opinion (klaxons!) Mr. Shea habitually confuses whatever prudential judgment he likes/dislikes with objective truth teachings of Holy Mother Church and then blows it out of proportion.

  15. Why do women have abortions? There is really only one reason–they engaged in an act of reproduction (or pro-creation if you prefer) without the desire to have a baby. The same is true with men.

  16. bill bannon: “In my one year of welfare work, I threw a prostitute off welfare in Manhattan and her pimp came to the office and threatened me with his own death penalty. He was quite pro “the life”.”
    .
    Ho! Bill Bannon you would have become a martyr for virginity, chastity and personal self-governance.

  17. “[W]hy should the government be involved in any sort of support for the handicapped, the mentally ill or handicapped, injury victims et al?”

    If we want to curtail welfare spending, are we ready for a repetition of les journées de juin 1848, following the closure of les Ateliers Nationaux? Then, the Liberals secured a victory over the Radical Republicans, but at the cost of 1,500 dead in combat and thousands of summary executions of prisoners. The Assembly, one recalls, welcomed the surrender of the last barricade with cries of “Long Live the Republic!” What they got, inevitably, was Napoleon III.

    Nowadays, when governments depend for their legitimacy on media coverage and the cult of personality, it is pretty generally recognised that welfare cheques, drug-dealing and cheap alcohol are indispensable guarantees of the political order.

    Remember Talleyrand, “Governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the mob will hang you from the lamp-post, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the people.”

  18. Anyhow, my opinion (klaxons!) Mr. Shea habitually confuses whatever prudential judgment he likes/dislikes with objective truth teachings of Holy Mother Church and then blows it out of proportion.

    Well said.

  19. There was a time America had no “tax dollars paying for welfare” and no legal abortions and better public morals and no Mark Shea. Correlation or causation, you decide.

  20. Oh my gosh, how did we ever get along without Mark Shea tap-tap-tapping out his frustrations and posting them on the blogosphere. He needs to get a job that does not involve being a professional Catholic.

Comments are closed.