President of the Pontifical Academy for Life Backs Whole Life Approach

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told Crux:

I won’t allow anyone to be more ‘pro-life’ than me. I want to be pro-life from the beginning, all the way to the end, and just that. I also want to be pro-life in all the conditions and situations of life.

Precisely because I’m pro-life, I can’t accept, for example, the death penalty. Because I’m pro-life, I can’t accept that immigrants die on the streets. Because I’m pro-life, I can’t accept that in the United States, in these first six months [of 2017], there have been 6,500 deaths involving firearms, meaning more than double the number from the Twin Towers.

In this sense, according to me, and I told the American bishops this in February, I believe that the time has arrived in which the Church must take up the defense of life in a global sense, including the ecological question.


Whole Life Pope Identifies Immigration as a Pro-life Issue

Christopher White writes:

During his in-flight press conference en route home from Colombia, the pope recalled that “I heard the president of the United States introduce himself as a ‘pro-life’ man.

“A good pro-lifer understands that family is the cradle of life, and that its unity must be defended,” the pope said.

The pope’s remarks came in response to questions regarding Trump’s recent decision to rescind the DACA program, which protects qualified immigrants from deportation – a move the pope says he hopes the president will “rethink.”

While some Republicans and Trump supporters have pushed back against the Pope’s whole life approach, including the highly partisan Susan B. Anthony List, others have emphasized how valuable this approach is, including Millennial writer Nichole Flores:

“I’m surprised that he would address the situation so directly. But I’m also not surprised, because it is an essential part of the pastoral and prophetic witness of the Catholic faith,” she told Crux.

For Flores, the Church’s ability to offer a consistent ethic of life has the capacity to convert skeptical hearts and minds.

“In order to make a moral case for one of these issues, we have to make the moral case for all of the issues,” she said.

“To sacrifice one for the sake of staying within the bounds of a particular political party’s orthodoxy really erodes our ground for speaking prophetically and pastorally to another issue. And it really erodes the ground of the pro-life movement to not defend the lives of immigrants,” she added.


Why Young People Should Embrace the Whole Life Movement

At first glance, the term “whole life” can conjure up numerous different feelings, depending on the context. There are those that believe it’s just another euphemism for the right-wing anti-abortion mob; there are those that see it as another movement in the Christian community that won’t actually take us anywhere. I believe it to be the opposite; yes, it is a largely Christian-based movement, but in the right context, the whole life movement has an extremely effective message that can be preached to people in all walks of life—not just the devout Christian ones.

To be honest, I have never liked the term “pro-life.” To me, nearly everyone is inherently pro-life in some sense—no sound individual consciously wishes for the destruction or oppression of any person or group. But far too many of those who identify as “pro-life” are simply pro-birth. Being pro-life must mean something more that. If one is truly pro-life, then they are concerned not only with the beginning of a life, but with all aspects of it, including its quality. This is the message of the whole life movement: that all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, or any other demographic traits, have an inherent dignity that should be upheld by all people.

The whole life movement covers a variety of bases when it comes to modern issues. It teaches that feminism is a good thing and that yes, we should protect the environment for future generations. It offers alternatives to abortion, improvements in the adoption system and access to prenatal care, rather than simply relying on laws that would restrict the procedure and criminalize women who feel they have no choice but to seek an abortion. I completely agree with this approach. I think the whole life perspective is extremely effective because it presents what has traditionally been seen as a conservative issue in a progressive way; it also includes some traditionally progressive issues in a way that should appeal to conservatives. It proves that there are achievable solutions to even the most controversial of topics. This is an effective and virtuous way to cater to both sides of the country, and to the world. As our country is continually divided by the two parties, it is important to be able to focus on a shared goal, and that is the common good for all living creatures.

As a young, Catholic, feminist, liberal woman, I have a lot to stand for. The pro-life and pro-choice movements simply do not fit my ideals—they turn large-scale moral debates into black and white issues with simple answers to complex questions. Identifying as whole life, however, signifies openness and willingness for change. It also presents an opportunity for Christians to abandon traditional ideas that are long out of date and become aware of important modern-day causes, such as the empowerment of women and girls. These issues should not be the subject of controversy, but a point of agreement that is based on the recognition that something must be done. Someone must advocate for those without a voice, whether that be the poor, the young, the outcasts, the trees, the animals, or the unborn. Through my exploration of this topic, I have come to believe that a whole life perspective is the way I wish to approach today’s challenging issues, and I hope that many others are ready for this fresh mindset.

Jillian Veader is currently a student, writer, and musician at the Academy at Penguin Hall.



Whole Life Voices and Messages at the March for Life

The March for Life is changing, Millennial writer Christopher White writes:

Since being named President of the March for Life in 2012, Jeanne Mancini has managed to give this annual March a significant makeover. Originally established to coincide with the first year anniversary of Roe, Mancini took over the reigns following the death of its founder Nellie Gray.

While some criticized Gray’s leadership as too Catholic and conservative, Mancini, who previously worked as a policy director at the Family Research Council, has spent recent years trying to transform the March to a more inclusive event-open to people of all faiths and no faith and to folks of all political persuasions.

This diversity was on display at this year’s march. A growing number of participants are focusing on building a more whole life approach and making the case for pro-life feminism.

America Media reports on this here:

And here are some signs from the march that reflect this approach:

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Momentum Builds for a Less Partisan, More ‘Whole Life’ Pro-Life Approach

As the Trump administration moves quickly to achieve its policy objectives and the March for Life approaches, a number of writers have analyzed the current state of the pro-life movement and its future prospects. Among the conclusions they have drawn are that the movement must reject a hyperpartisan mindset and that it is necessary to embrace a more whole life approach, showing a consistent commitment to human life and dignity (you can read more about the Whole Life movement here).

In a new editorial, the editors of Our Sunday Visitor suggest that now may be the right time for a more whole life approach at the March for Life:

While the main focus of the March for Life must always remain overturning Roe v. Wade — for without the right to life, all other rights become impossible — perhaps the March for Life could begin to more robustly advocate for additional issues that contribute to basic human dignity. For example, in addition to protesting abortion, could we protest euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide? Could we advocate for the dignity found in the poor, the immigrant and the refugee? Could we stand up for the right for access to health care and life-giving and sustaining benefits for all? Could we work together for a world where the actions of the wealthy in the first world don’t negatively impact the lives of those in the third world, as they do in many of the world’s current environmental policies?

This call comes in the same week that a meme with a whole life quote from Fr. James Martin went viral on social media:

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At the Washington Post, John Gehring writes about those who will be spreading a whole life or consistent life message at the March:

The Franciscan Action Network and the Catholic Climate Covenant, national groups based in Washington, will underscore how climate change and environmental devastation are disproportionately hurting the poor…

Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, an organization that collaborates closely with bishops across the country, describes climate change as a “pro-life issue” that Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have all addressed in clear terms. Francis took the church’s teaching on environmental stewardship to a new level two years ago by becoming the first pope to release an encyclical on the environment. Respect for life, the pope insisted, must include urgent action to address the impacts of climate change. People are already suffering and dying in many parts of the world, Misleh noted, because of storms, droughts and other disruptive climate events…

The Catholic Mobilizing Network, which collaborates with dioceses across the country to help end capital punishment, will attend the march and hand out prayer cards and stickers that read “Who Would Jesus Execute?” When Francis became the first pope to address Congress, he called for the abolition of the death penalty. “Every life is sacred,” he said. Karen Clifton, executive director of the network, noted that the U.S. bishops’ conference as well as the last three popes “have called for Catholics to be unconditionally pro-life.”

At America, Sam Sawyer, SJ warns that Donald Trump is not what pro-life leadership looks like:

Symbols matter. When pro-choice citizens, or even those on the fence about abortion, look at what happened in the White House this week, they will not see a principled defense of the dignity of human life. Instead, they will see the latest salvo in a partisan war, in which abortion is mostly a proxy battle. And though they may—we pray—fare better, the unborn, like the refugees and immigrants Mr. Trump is only too comfortable demonizing, will have been reduced to a convenient symbol of political victory.

This is not what pro-life leadership looks like. Those who believe in the dignity of every human life should weigh carefully the cost of embracing it.

At NCR, Michael Sean Winters argues that the pro-life movement must build a wider, bigger culture of life to achieve the success that it desires:

One of the achievements of the pro-life movement in recent years has been to shed its image as a movement led by a bunch of male, celibate clergy unconcerned with the plight of women. Women have become the face of the movement and bishops have gone out of their way to call attention to the need to care for women facing crisis pregnancies. In recent years, at the annual Mass before the March, Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Cardinal Timothy Dolan placed concern for women at the center of their homilies. A new generation of female and male pro-life voices has been outspoken in confronting the rapes on campus and the “hookup” culture, broadening the focus of the movement in healthy ways. Online magazines such as Millennial have helped forge a distinctively feminist pro-life approach.

That achievement cannot survive a too-close association with the Groper-in-Chief. A pro-life movement that values women cannot, at the same time, find its champion in a man who spoke about assaulting a married woman, and not just spoke, but bragged about it, and did so in the most vulgar terms imaginable. And, unless the pro-life movement remains a place where women are valued, and their concerns are heard, and their crises addressed, the pro-life movement will never, ever succeed in achieving its aims.

It will also never succeed without at least some measure of bipartisan support. Yet, Dannenfelser and the Susan B. Anthony List are tied with Planned Parenthood as the group that has done more than any other to make such bipartisan support impossible….

What if Trump gets two nominees to the high court? What if they repeal Roe? That would kick the issue back to the states where, I fear, a vast majority of the legislatures would enact liberal abortion laws. The pro-life movement has not laid the groundwork for the kind of definitive win they claim to seek. Changing the law won’t be enough. The first time a woman dies procuring a back alley abortion, the backlash will be intense. Building a pro-life culture takes time and persuasion and compassion. It is harder than winning control of a legislative chamber or even of the Supreme Court. And, the political expression of a culture of life will be bipartisan or it will be a failure.

And in the Washington Post, Patrick Brown writes:

Among the next generation of antiabortion leaders, there is an increasing realization that legal restrictions alone are not enough to promote a “culture of life.” Protecting a fetus’s legal status is an essential step in ending abortion, but it is only one piece of a cultural and political agenda that would truly support pregnant women and the children they carry.

In addition to changing hearts and minds about abortion, antiabortion activists should demonstrate their seriousness in supporting children both before and after birth by championing a concrete policy agenda of family economic security. Passing the Hyde Amendment would be much more credible as a truly pro-life, rather than simply antiabortion, goal if it were accompanied by an expanded, refundable Child Tax Credit.

As a refresher, the CTC currently reduces the amount of taxes owed by $1,000 per child. For families that owe less in taxes than the amount of their credit, a portion of the remaining balance is returned as a rebate. But low-income families are often left out of the CTC’s benefits — an estimated 1 in 5 families had earnings too low to claim the full $1,000. Additionally, inflation has eroded a full one-third of the credit’s real value since it was set at $1,000 in 2001. This is especially disturbing as poor women are disproportionately represented among women who have abortions: As others have observed, women in poverty accounted for 42.4 percent of abortions — an unacceptable, disproportionately high number, considering 14.2 percent of women nationwide live in poverty, according to the Census Bureau.


Is There Room for Pro-Life Feminists at the Women’s March on Washington?

Emma Green reports:

Pro-life women are headed to D.C. Yes, they’ll turn out for the annual March for Life, which is coming up on January 27. But one week earlier, as many as a few hundred pro-lifers are planning to attend the Women’s March on Washington, which has been billed as feminist counterprogramming to the inauguration….

Many pro-life women felt just as outraged as pro-choice women about Donald Trump’s conduct and comments, including the revelation that he once bragged about groping women without their permission. For their part, the organizers say pro-lifers will be welcome to march on January 21st. A pro-life group based in Texas, New Wave Feminists, was granted partnership status on Friday. “Intersectional feminism is the future of feminism and of this movement,” said Bob Bland, one of the event’s co-chairs. “We must not just talk about feminism as one issue, like access to reproductive care.”

But…

On Monday afternoon, after the publication of this article, the Women’s March organizers removed the New Wave Feminists from their website and list of partners. “The Women’s March’s platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one,” the organizers said in a statement. “The anti-choice organization in question is not a partner of the Women’s March on Washington. We apologize for this error.”

Some pro-life feminists and progressives are going anyway. Aimee Murphy of Life Matters Journal, who we have interviewed here at Millennial, writes:

Note to the women’s movement: It is possible to be both pro-life and a feminist. In fact, it is possible to be pro-life and a feminist and opposed to President-elect Donald Trump. It’s too bad the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington refuse to accept this fact. This week march organizers indicated that women like me are not welcome in their ranks….

Like most feminists, we pro-life feminists at Life Matters Journal were troubled by Trump’s election. His hateful rhetoric, xenophobic policies and misogynistic behavior indicate a terrifying disregard for the inherent dignity of human beings — women especially. Our foundational philosophy is the intrinsic value of humanity, regardless of gender, circumstance, age, ability, sexuality, race, religion. We wanted to make clear that Trump doesn’t speak for us: He is not and should not be the face of the pro-life movement….

But we will go. We will march. Planned Parenthood does not own women’s rights. The first-wave feminists understood that abortion is killing and that it is a tool of the patriarchy. We stand by the example of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and many others who upheld the dignity of pre-born children and fought discrimination against women.

We will fight against the modern popular feminist paradigm that says that to support women’s rights, we must support the violent act that is abortion. We will fight against the culture that understands pregnancy as a disease condition and sees children not for their inherent dignity, but for how wanted and able they are. We will stand up against misogyny, rape culture, sexual assault, sexism, racism, ageism, ableism and all discrimination. And yes, because of that, we will stand up against abortion.

Another Washington Post op-ed also highlights the disconnect between the march’s organizers and first-wave feminists:

Those of us at the Susan B Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams, Mass., are saddened that the museum honoring this American iconic heroine and tireless worker for women’s rights will not be among the organizations marching in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Some would, perhaps, think that Anthony family descendants and board members of the great suffragist birthplace would be leading the Women’s March, especially as the centennial marking the Susan B. Anthony Amendment for women’s suffrage has begun in some states. But they would be wrong: Anthony would never have joined a march in favor of abortion access.

The unifying theme of Susan Brownell Anthony’s life was to speak up for those without a voice. Anthony fought for temperance, the abolition of slavery and especially the enfranchisement of women. She also spoke up for the voiceless child in utero, opposing Restellism, the term that Anthony’s newspaper and others at that time used for abortion. It’s easy to chalk up Anthony’s (and other early feminists’) opposition to abortion as a relic of their day and age. But these women were progressive and independent; they did not oppose abortion because they were conditioned to, but because they believed every human life has inherent and equal value, no matter their age, skin color or sex….

Many women and women’s groups who will march next week have good reason to do so, and they should be respected. However, we ask that abortion rights not be misappropriated to Anthony and the critical work of the suffrage movement. Anthony and many of her fellow suffragists were anti-abortion feminists, the contemporary existence of which even Hillary Clinton has acknowledged. If the Women’s March truly wants to honor the suffragist legacy, they will acknowledge their existence, too.

You can read more about pro-life feminism here and watch America Media’s video on millennial pro-life women, which includes pro-life feminists, here.