Sunday, April 27, 2008

Continued Exchange with JohnOnLife

I find the series of exchanges with JohnOnLife to be very stimulating. I think this is precisely what we need in the pro-life movement. One of our weaknesses is that I feel there is a lack of cohesion in our movement-- a cohesion that would be fostered by more exchange between ourselves.

The pro-life movement in Canada, in one sense, is small. What does it consist of? The local pro-life group. The latest copy of The Interim. The daily email of Lifesite News. Perhaps a local newsletter or protest.

It's a pretty thin movement if you ask me. It's mostly led by Campaign Life. There are other parties, but Campaign Life takes up most of the political space.

And I'm not saying this to criticize Campaign Life, because goodness knows they take a lot of criticism, and sometimes I think some of it is unfair. I think people wait around for Campaign Life, or some other social conservative group to take the initiative on pro-life efforts.

But back to my original point...

I conceive of the pro-life movement being small in the sense that the number of
"focal points" for pro-life news, exchange and activism is small, especially on a national level. There are lots of pro-lifers out there. But the scope of activity, compared to other movements, is limited.

We don't have a strong community. And I believe that one way to foster community and further strategy is to have exchanges like the one I'm having with John. I'm not under any illusions about the impact of this discussion. But this is a what we need. We need to have exchanges about strategy, and theory, and what we should be fighting for, etc.

This makes our movement more vibrant, more intellectually appealing and provides another way for people to engage.

I want to focus on a comment that John:

Don't allow your mind to be narrowed by your denominational priorities and your stereotypes.

This comment is not unlike the criticisms I've received about the way I characterize feminists. Some commenters assure me they have no idea of what I'm talking about: that feminists aren't, in the majority, all politically correct and favour abortion, etc.

It is true that there are all kinds of people who support fetal rights. But the fact of the matter is, the pro-life movement in Canada is dominated by conservative Christians, especially Catholics.

Campaign Life Coalition is basically run by Catholics. And of course they're not the only socially conservative group, they are the political arm of the pro-life movement in Canada. The Catholic bias is very apparent in all that they do.

That doesn't mean there aren't a lot of non-Catholic Christians out there, slugging it out. Off the top of my head, I can think of Tristan Emmanuel's ECP group (and No Apologies), Connie Fournier's Free Dominion (not a group, but there are lots of non-Catholic pro-lifers there, and Connie is herself a very pro-life Protestant), Faytene Kryskow's For My Canada and of course the Christian Heritage Party, which is largely Protestant-dominated.

John, bless his heart, says he's been engaged in the pro-life movement before I was learning arithmetic. And while it may be true that as an "old-timer" he may have more depth of knowledge about the history (and by the way, John, have you thought about posting some reminiscences of your time in the trenches-- that would be an interesting blogpost-- to me at least-- it's about time we started collecting stories for the history of the pro-life movement-- but I digress). The fact of the matter is, that he, as someone who is not an orthodox conservative Christian (as shown by his support of the gay agenda) is something of an anomaly in the movement.

I'm not saying that to put him down. I know other Christians who favour same-sex marriage, e.g. Hailey from Every Good and Perfect Gift Comes from Above and Dr. Roy from Dr. Roy's Thoughts. These are strong advocates for the unborn.

The priorities of the pro-life movement have been largely the priorities of conservative Christians, and,as I said, Catholics.

It's only to be expected then, that their rhetoric come to represent the movement itself.

Of course, being Catholic, I think this is a good thing. However, I see the down side to this on a political level. We want the unborn to be recognized. We don't want the equality of the unborn to rest solely on the perception that it's a religious truth that everyone should accept (i.e. shoved it down people's throats)-- we want people to perceive the equality of the unborn to be rooted in common sense and science.

And so we need people of all kinds of backgrounds to engage in the movement.

But it's a Catch-22.

I can see why non-Christians would not want to attend my local Campaign Life meeting. It's Christian-dominated from top to bottom-- from the location (a church) to the opening prayer, to the rhetoric used, to what assumptions people hold about who attends, etc. I can see how that can be very alienating.

On the other hand, if you open it up to people of various backgrounds, you open it up to the advocacy of things you may find objectionable. I know of a non-Christian pro-life activist who is a strong advocate of contraception. As a Catholic, I would not feel comfortable opening the floor to the woman on this issue. And I could see how such a person might feel alienated from a Christian-run meeting.

The difficulty is that "non-traditional" pro-lifers are relatively few and far between, and they mostly keep to themselves, as far as I can tell.

It can't be up to the traditional pro-lifers to organize them. But I do think traditional pro-lifers should encourage them. We have to help them find their niche in the struggle for fetal rights.

I know that it's not easy because whereas you can just go to a church to find other pro-lifers, where do you find non-traditional pro-lifers? Not an easy task.

I think the fetal rights movement would be really strengthened if this were to happen. And it would make the general public feel like they could belong too-- that you don't need to be a Christian of any kind to support fetal rights.

I do believe, though, that even if the non-traditional pro-lifers were to organize, the pro-life movement would still largely reflect a conservative Christian worldview, if only because they would still probably outnumber others, and because they've already built up the structures that are in place to fight for unborn rights.

And if some people aren't happy with that, and want to recruit more non-trads into the movement to counter this my guest :D

And one last thing. About contraception: Protestants do not oppose the use of contraception, but Protestant pro-lifers tend to discourage the use of contraception as a solution to abortion.

Why do they do this? Because the bulk of abortions are procurred by single women under 30. Married women, do not, in general, have abortions (yes, they do, but not nearly at at the same rate as single women). Relying on contraception to prevent an unintended pregnancy is the first step towards abortion. Why? Because what happens when the contraception fails, as happens every day in this country? The woman then feels trapped, and the most obvious, easy solution is to have an abortion. Married women,in general, being more stable, and living with a stable partner, have a shoulder to lean on and can rely on support. A single woman who is pregnant feels like she is left to her own devices.

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