by Rachel MacNair
While there’s not much you as a consistent life ethic supporter can do with the obstinate, many people who don’t agree with us on life and peace issues are willing to listen to what we have to say.
A lot of questions really require in-depth answers, and when you have the time to provide those, that makes for the most productive discussion. But what about those many occasions when you have a chance to say something, but not very much?
These are responses that I’ve found effective in such situations, so I share them. I’d be delighted if people who have other questions and quick answers share those in the comments below.
Question: What about overpopulation?
If we’re going to kill people to address a strain on the environment, wouldn’t it be more efficient to kill the people causing the problems? Like, say, executives of large polluting corporations? Little babies aren’t the ones causing the problems.
Note: This response of course requires that people understand abortion to be killing. But the question about overpopulation often comes up after you’ve made clear that you think of abortion as killing – raising the question is a way of skirting around the point. We of course aren’t in favor of any killing, efficient or otherwise, but this answer points up the absurdity of suggesting one kind of killing is OK. I had one group I shared this response with immediately turn to talking about how the poor in India weren’t the problem, and while they were expounding, I thought my work was done and headed out.
Question: Do you really think war is never necessary?
If you have a continuum, and on one side you have pacifism and on the other side you have conquest and genocide (I have my hands outstretched to show the two sides),
then on this continuum, “just war” – the notion that war is justified under very strict conditions involving protection of innocents – goes right next to pacifism. (I move one hand from the side to put it right next to the other hand).
Just war is pacifism with exceptions.
Just war advocates deem pacifists naïve to think that there aren’t times when war is occasionally necessary for defense, as a last resort. Pacifists hold that the just war idea is naïve, to think that we can have a disciplined war without things getting out of hand. But really, whenever the just-war criteria are in fact strictly adhered to, either approach would get rid of most of the wars we actually have.
And there are plenty of proactive things we can do for peace that all people of good will agree on, where a just-war/pacifist distinction makes no difference.
Note: Consistent-lifers can be either pacifist or strictly- just-war, so the idea of getting along is already in the consistent-life community. But I used this response several times with conservatives at a National Review conference, and it always made sense to them.
Question: Back Alley Butchers
Richard Mucie in Kansas City was a doctor convicted of manslaughter in the horrific death of a woman from abortion back when it was illegal. His medical license was revoked and he went to prison. Then Roe v. Wade came down. He went to court to get his license back, and set up his abortion clinic, literally on Main Street. Women had no warning of how poor a doctor he was, and they had much less legal recourse when injured.
This is a clear case, but there have been “front-alley” scandals over and over again [mention your local one, or the most recent one].
The problem isn’t with the legal nature of abortion, but with the nature of abortion, period. When a doctor keeps a focus on doing abortions, this is not favorable for providing sensitive care to the mother.
Question from pro-lifers: Doesn’t the Consistent Life Ethic water down the abortion issue?
Response 1: It puts the issue in the context of violence, where it belongs.
Response 2: It gives peace movement people who are inclined to buy the pro-life argument a sense of permission to be pro-life, because it puts the issue in terms that are comfortable for them.
Response 3: It’s common for peace movement people to think in terms of connecting issues, so naturally when peace advocates join the pro-life movement, issue connections is how they’re going to think. Objecting to it would be like objecting to Priests for Life for being too liturgical.
Question from peace and justice activists: Isn’t the Consistent Life Ethic a sneaky way of giving us right-wing propaganda?
You should see how many pro-lifers criticize us as being part of a plot to water down the abortion issue.
See more of our blog posts with lengthier points responding to challenging questions —