terms: pro-life v anti-abortion

I wonder about these terms… which we will be hearing and reading often in the coming days.

What is the difference of impact between




What do these terms really say?  What are people trying to convey by them… choosing the one over the other.

I was spurred to ask this in light of an article I read on FoxNews, which I fisked here.

Discuss with good manner and think about what you might want to post.

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  1. John 6:54 says:

    Anti means bad in the press and Pro means good in the press therefore the press has spoken on where they stand when it comes to abortion.

  2. Vincenzo says:

    I was just thinking about this again as I was reading news articles today. The use of the terms “anti-abortion” or “abortion foes” as opposed to “pro-life” is designed to make the pro-life side appear negative. Another common technique is to label the pro-abortion side as being supporters of “abortion rights.” Who could be against a “right?”

  3. avecrux says:

    Pro-life people don’t murder because we believe that all life is sacred. Calling us “anti-abortion” can suggest that we favor unborn human life over other lives… thus, it is much easier to paint “anti-abortionists” as killers, terrorists, etc.

  4. Matthew says:

    In addition to what is written above, the term “anti-abortion” has very narrow focus. It doesn’t describe the movement well enough. I would say that anyone who is “anti-abortion” is also “anti-euthanasia”, wants to help young/single pregnant women, supports adoption, tries to help the handicapped, disabled and elderly, etc. Pro-life is a much better description of what the movement actually stands for.

  5. m says:

    It’s an interesting question, but I think that there’s more to the use of terminology than an attempt to color the issue. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 51% of Americans identify themselves as being “Pro-Life” – but in the same poll, only 23% of Americans agree that abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances”. Ergo – more than half of those who call themselves pro-life ALSO believe that the “choice” should be available in some circumstances. I find this fascinating, and I think it might shed some light on why the two terms are useful (with “anti-choice” being a sub-set of the “pro-life” majority).


  6. Joe says:

    In my growth as a Catholic I first heard the “no”s: no premarital sex, no abortion, no birth control, no drunkenness. Then as I committed myself more fully to the faith (having accepted those “no”s in obedience to the Church) I became aware of the positive dimension of life in Christ – yes to God’s plan, yes to life, yes to what became articulated as the theology of the body (the spiritual side of Humanae vitae), yes to the sobre joys of the Spirit of God. So for me being anti-abortion means recognizing that abortion is evil, and should be eliminated. I think any reasonable person shoule be able to come to this awareness, although in practice because of sin many don’t. Being pro-life means accepting and rejoicing in God’s plan in creating human life in His image and likeness.

  7. Jillian says:

    There is a vast difference between the terms “pro-life” and “anti-abortion”. I think it sets up a picture of how the media wants the public to view the pro-life movement (and, by extention, anyone who calls themselves “pro-life”). They don’t want you see the movement as fighting for the LIVES of human children. They want you to see the pro-life movement as a political ideology bent on restricting women’s “rights” (as if all women are born with the inherent “right” to kill their offspring); thus, pro-abortion groups are referred to as those in favor of “abortion rights”. Set up as a debate between rights, instead of the real debate (between LIFE or death), the pro-life movement becomes seen and understood as restrictive and oppressive.

    Impressive propagana, isn’t it?

    Don’t be fooled. In the debate about rights we must first and foremost remember that we, as Americans, profess to be “created equal” with “certain inalienable rights” which include, as a foundation, the “right to LIFE” (my emphasis).

  8. Patrick says:

    It may be worthwhile to consider the terminology that forces people who would protect the unborn from death and dismemberment to characterize themselves as pro-life and anti-abortion.

    It was NARAL and their ilk who seized the high ground long ago by coining such terms as choice, pro-choice, and reproductive rights.

    Once you redefine rights, or add new ones, such as a \”right to privacy\” you change the language and the way things can be debated. From an even playing field you move to forcing one side into an uphill struggle against false premises that have been given the gloss of legitimacy, even if they are the equivalent of a house of cards.

    I don\’t know what term we who oppose abortion (and many of the other associated social ills and dysfunctions) can use to identify ourselves. I do hope that we can effectively demonstrate that at the moment of conception a human, a demonstrably genetically complete human is present. And that to end that life is against all decency and most importantly, God\’s Law.

    May God give us all good sense.

  9. JP Borberg says:

    In terms of what the words ACTUALLY mean, I agree with Matthew. ‘Anti-abortion’ is part of ‘pro-life’, but by no means all of it. Like going to Mass on Sunday is part of being Catholic, but not all of it.

    Whichever term is more appropriate depends on the context, but of course, when you see the news, it’s always ‘anti-abortion’ because ‘anti’ is bad and ‘pro’ is good. Obviously.

  10. Jason says:

    I read an interesting critique of the use of the word “life” recently. Part of the argument was that the word depersonalizes the human person. It turns them into “a” life, rather than seeing them as a person who is living.

  11. I don’t have a problem with anti-abortion. I am anti-abortion. That stance is part of me being pro-life. Pro-life is bigger than abortion, though any consistent life ethic will recognize that abortion, ESCR, and euthanasia are a unique threat to life in that they are violence agaisnt human life qua human life. But certainly to consider oneself “pro-life” we must be more than “anti-abortion.” But anti-abortion is more precise when dealing with this specific issue within the pro-life ethic.

    My problem with terminology is those deceitful euphemisms involving “choice,” either pro-choice or anti-choice. Choice has nothing to do with it. It’s about killing, murder. My being anti-abortion makes me no less anti-choice than my opposing murder or stealing or any other crime against humanity. There is no moral choice to murder. It’s that simple.

  12. Andrew says:

    I think concentrating too much on labels can be counterproductive. The media will call those in the Pro-Life Movement “abortion foes” or “anti-abortion advocates”, etc. and so be it. What’s more important is that we get our message across. We must restore what’s become a debate about “reproductive choice” to be a debate about abortion; about what abortion is and what it does to innocent pre-born children. We lose when the debate is one of semantics: “Choice” vs. “Life”. We win when we unmask the ugliness and reality of abortion.

    I co-founded a group called the Anti-Choice Project. We embrace the label “anti-choice” for two reasons. Number one: once again, it is counterproductive to focus energy on arguing about labels and semantics — it’s time we get to the real issue. Number two: we find the label “anti-choice” perfectly acceptable in light of what is being chosen. That is, when it comes to the “Choice” of dismembering a tiny, innocent human being, we are unabashedly anti-choice.

    My two cents :)

    See our website:

  13. In every secular news story I have read today about the murder of George Tiller, the phrase anti-abortion was used. Not once did I see the term pro life used. The media rules by power of persuasion.

  14. Bonifacius says:

    I think that pro-choice and anti-abortion are legitimate terms.

    The pro-choice people really do like the choice part. Not only do they want X number of children murdered, but they also want every child who actually is born to be born as the result of a choice in which the mother saw abortion as an inherently moral choice which she did not opt for in this circumstance. They want approbation of abortion to infect every single pregnancy, whether the child is aborted or not. They want it to be said of every child that the mother “chose” to have it, rather than accepted the child as a gift from God. So they’re using the term correctly. If the mother won’t actually commit the sin of abortion, they want the mother to contemplate it as a legitimate option and make a choice on other than legitimate moral grounds.

    “Pro-life” is vague enough that it leaves people open to the following objections: “What about death row inmates? That’s a life, too!” “What about war? Do you support life in the womb but not when it’s a born life in a foreign country?!” Just war and the death penalty are legitimate topics of moral inquiry, it’s true. But since I support the death penalty and the just war doctrine, I obviously am not in favor of preserving life as such without any exceptions or qualifications. There are people who deserve to be killed (physically, not spiritually). So I am not absolutely “pro-life.” Rather, I’m pro-*innocent*-life. Or, in this particular instance, it might just be better to say that I’m anti-abortion. Even if I am not absolutely “pro-” in the case of all human life (I’m happy that John Wayne Gacy was executed by my home state), I am absolutely anti-abortion.

  15. Kirstin says:

    I’m definitely pro-life and anti-abortion. It doesn’t concern me which I might be “labeled.” When I speak of the opposition, I prefer to call them pro-abortion advocates. I think it is good to remind the public that those who often call themselves “pro-choice” are, by their choice, “pro-abortion.” Americans who are not deeply invested in either opposite side don’t typically like the word “abortion.” When they hear someone is pro-abortion, it reminds them what is at stake. And if they hear “anti-abortion,” again, it can remind them that they too (most probably, based on the latest polls) are, fundamentally, not supporters of abortion.

  16. Patrick II says:

    There are 2 Patrick’s weighing in, hence Patrick II. I like the other Patrick’s thoughts and some of them were indeed what I was going to add, about NARAL seizing the “”high ground”, which I would say seizing the opportunity to provide one’s own acceptable, self description of one’s cause.

    Now, normally, people can, with some exceptions, choose what they want to be called by others. Same with causes, albeit to a lesser extent, and certainly “pro-lifers” would hope to always be labeled as such – mainly for perception considerations by those not so familiar with all the issues – and perception IS reality, as the expression rightly says. So a positive description with positive implications evokes a certain psychological reaction in most listeners ears. This is not new, and the pro-life movement sought always to not be pitted Pro-choice against Anti-abortion, and pro-abortion was never the acceptable term from the other sides vantage point. So again, nothing new here, though it would seem many are just waking up to some of the long ago established press patterns of choosing which terms they will go with, and they can change, to some extent, considering the circumstance.

    This is one such “circumstance” where it becomes hard to make the case for a “pro-life” label when when of those sympathetic to 90% of your goals just shot an abortion “doctor” (though he be a heinous abortionist of the worst sort).

    It also is tough to disavow this kind of act, at least in pro-lifers “heart of hearts,” for its being “terrible” act, given the gruesomeness of the killing this particular abortionist performs. There is this hard to espscape incongruity of the pro-life understanding of the nature of the act of abortion, (murder) and the proper reaction to it given that understanding. This is also where pro-abortion folk find little quarter as these procedures highlight the brazenness that underlies so much of what they actually staunchly defend, and it is indefensible when seen in the light of day, and I am speaking of late term procedures specifically here. Just ghastly, and this is where the Pelosi’s and Obama’s of the world show their true colors.

    This is going to get interesting, and it so much reminds one of the end times prediction fo the dividing the “sheep from the goats,” and hard to get more stark than this,

    As far as child killing goes, if it was a child two days passed delivery as opposed to two days prior, the one act is legally a “murder” and the other is just another medical procedure, and if one were to watch while someone murdered the two day old child, they would be subject to charges as well, I would think, in most cases, at least if they could have stopped the act fairly easily.. So this is a real dilemma, (and I realize one could get canned on this site for saying this, however, this is a crux issue, and it takes a Solomeneque bit of finessing to explain how this is not somewhat of a moral pretzel twist for pro-lifers, IOW, if it IS murder, as pro-lifers say, then how can one NOT act vigorously to stop murder, and just what are the legitimate means to that end and what is out of bounds, and why, Again, this is not anything new, and it is, and always has been a sticky wicket, not to trivialize but this never seems to go away, and perhaps it will not because it can not).

    One argument against such “solutions” is precisely the subject area being discussed here about labels, i.e., you lose the moral “high ground” and thus any concession being afforded a group to continue to label itself with such “high ground” depiction as — “pro-life.”

    This should not be read as any sort of endorsement of what transpired, but given the horrific nature of partial birth abortion, it is hard to condemn, all the same.

  17. Kenny says:

    As others on here nave noted.The medis invariably use the phrase ant-abortion. Their reason is clear. negativity. Pro-life would be far to positive a thing to say about people who abhor killing, born or unborn.

  18. Dear all,

    They can call me “anti-abortion” or “abortion foe” any time they want, and I will not bat an eyelash.

    The one I cannot stand is, “anti-choice”.


  19. EDG says:

    I don’t mind being called anti-abortion. I just wish the other side would be honestly identified as “pro-abortion,” though. No euphemisms, please. That’s what they are.

  20. Mac McLernon says:

    Interesting points.

    I guess that whoever shot Tiller was anti-abortion, but hardly pro-life.

    Pro-life is an all-encompassing term: against killing the unborn, the disabled, the vulnerable, the elderly. Life from conception to natural end.

  21. @markomalley says:

    A matter of connotation:

    An anti-abortion person wants to repress a woman from being able to exercise her right to choose (doesn’t that sound horrible?)

    A pro-life person wants to respect life from conception to natural death. It fundamentally respects the dignity of the human person.

    The pro-infanticide media chooses to use the former, as we oppose their agenda of offering a sufficient quantity of sacramental offerings to Moloch, thus inflaming the demons who infest their minds.

    We choose to use the latter as it more adequately expresses the true agenda behind the pro-life movement.

  22. Fr. Peter says:

    Fr. Z et al,

    I would say that the difference between pro-life and anti-abortion is very simple. Pro-life means just that life at any time across the spectrum from conception to it’s natural end. It would also be anti-poverty or other things that would lead to the end of life. Also it would be a stand against capital punishment for any reason. That for me is pro-life. Anti-abotion would be just what it say, anti-abortion. [In effect, the term “pro-life” is more inclusive. Just as all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, pro-life covers the larger set of life issues.]

  23. Allan says:

    Politics 101: He who controls the language, wins the day.

    Language Set A:
    Foetus, products of conception, freedom, choice, woman, pro-choice, anti-choice

    Language Set B:
    Baby, unborn child, right to life, unborn, pre-born, mother, pro-life

  24. Phil says:

    Turn it around the other way. What is the difference between pro-choice and pro-death?

  25. Ian says:

    Most of the terms on both sides are unfortunately non-descript PR terms.

    “Pro” makes things sound positive.

    “Anti” makes things sound negative.

    There are various styles in the media which used to try to eliminate these non-descript terms like “pro-life” or “pro-choice”. Since the media has become more and more of a propaganda machine, terminology has shifted to using more of these PR terms.

    When I worked as a Newspaper editor, we used two terms: “abortion rights supporter” and “abortion rights opponent”. This is a fairly accurate description of the fundamental difference. A Catholic must be an opponent of abortion rights. That clearly draws the line for these politicians. Those that either are comfortable with a few abortions or advocate many support and promote the “right” to abortion.

    If we want the “pro-life” PR label, then we have to admit the “pro-choice” label.

    So, why would I say that “pro-life” is a non-descript PR label? Firstly, most people who would use the term for themselves have two fundamental core doctrines of that position. (1) They oppose and wish for an end to legalized abortion and (2) They oppose and want to prohibit euthanasia. Beyond this a large number of “pro-lifers” oppose the death penalty, but others support it. Many in the movement supported a pre-emptive war where many thousands of innocents have died, while two Popes at least questioned the moral basis for such a war. Others saw “pro-life” as meaning they had to be “anti-war”.

    It is neat and convenient to think we can just package “respect for the dignity of the human person” into “pro-life”, but there is not a fundamental agreement and what constitutes such respect, plus the moniker does not accurately describe that assertion itself, or what such “respect” entails.

    Equally so, “pro-choice” is inaccurate. Most people who claim that term are not interested in promoting “choice”, but allowing abortion. They are advocating for abortion, and the continued legality of the procedure. That is not advocating for choice, which unfortunately already exists. Even if the alternative to “choice” is being forced to bring the child to term, there are plenty of laws, accepted nearly universally, which dicate that “choice” is not permitted. You are not legally permitted to chose whether or not to pay taxes. You are not permitted to chose whether or not an abortion provider should live or die.

    Perhaps that experience in the media that I have had and the present use of the media as a PR firm for selling us lies, evil, and sin makes me want to say: “Let’s drop the nice sounding terms all around and use accurate and clear description of our positions. Let us call ourselves abortion opponents. That is what we are. If we want to promote adoption, then let us call ourselves “adoption promoters”. Let us also call our opponents using clear terms. They are abortion promoters and advocates because they advocate for allowing such procedures. They are not “pro-choice” and let us be clear that they have no interest or understanding in fundamental Catholic principle: We are not permitted to chose between evil and good, only between goods.

  26. Toby says:

    Soft and soppy though this may sound on such a terrible issue as abortion, we’ve got to use the language of love – inclusion, compassion, loving correction, understanding, and openness. The rhetoric we in the pro-life movement use is too often perceived as incendiary and self-righteous. We must be more like Jesus and use reason AND compassion.

  27. Girgadis says:

    I don’t mind being called anti-abortion, but I object to the
    term abortion foes because the word foes has such a negative conotation. If I
    oppose abortion, shouldn’t that make someone on the other side a life foe?
    Funny how it doesn’t seem to work that way. Would we ever be called pro-baby
    rights as the antithesis of pro-reproductive rights? I doubt it but it might
    not hurt to insist on it and bring attention to the disparities in how each side
    is treated.

  28. Chris says:

    Many Catholics today and “anti abortion” and not “pro-life.”

    They are anti abortion because they are against abortion. They are not pro-life because the overwhelming majority contracept, either artificially or by NFP.

    For all the “conservative” Catholics, if you abuse NFP to simply have two children or three and no more, you can’t call yourselves pro-life.

  29. RobNY says:

    There’s been a lot of excellent discussion here. I think I would say these things:

    1. Pro-choice. Completely a euphemism. Pro-choice… on what? It carefully avoids mentioning abortion because abortion is so distasteful a subject. Second, it breaks our typical usage of political language. In a democratic republic like our own, it’s almost too obvious to state that policy decisions like this are for ‘the freedom to do X.’ So when you call someone pro-abortion and they object, “no I’m pro-choice” it’s not like we use this in any other context. Politicians are pro-gun, etc., but when did we ever call someone in favor of the right to bear arms, “pro-choice?” They are, after all, “pro-choice” on the issue of bearing arms.

    Now I don’t recommend simply calling people pro-abortion– it will cause offense, and charity is the first concern. But I think this is a point we should publicize and we ought to change the political language. We forget sometimes that rhetoric is powerful!

    2. Anti-abortion. All pro-life people are anti-abortion. It is an accurate and a specific descriptor. I’m really quite happy to be called anti-abortion. But considering the rhetoric, I would prefer to be called pro-life. After all, there is a built in prejudice that to be “anti-” something is bad. The correct point, of course, is that we are all anti-murder, and anti-racism, etc.

    But I think the term “abortion” is particularly unhelpful here. Abortion is also a coup in terms of rhetoric. An abortion halts a process, namely, pregnancy. Are we really against pregnancy being ended? Not really. After all, pregnancy ends, or as some pro-abortion advocates say, terminates, in many ways, including in a spontaneous abortion (a miscarriage) or in birth (the best termination of a pregnancy…). Looking at it in terms of etymology we are not against ‘abortion’ so much as the killing of the fetus. Hence, we are not so much “anti-abortion” as we are “anti-feticide.” If we could change our political language to this… it would be a major coup. “Feticide” recognizes that we are against the killing of a fetus. And no one can deny that what is called “abortion” is really the killing of a fetus.

    So when a person says, “you are anti-abortion” I will respond, “well, I’m really anti-feticide.” The other great thing about this, of course, is that it brings out more clearly the parallel between feticide and infanticide…

    3. Pro-life. This is an accurate descriptor. Some people object that it is a bad term because “life” is precisely what is at issue. But this isn’t the case at all (I’ll treat this a little further down). Certainly, more accurate than “pro-choice.” Listening to Robert George the other day helped me to realize this, when he talks about how it is impossible to deny that abortion (feticide?) takes a human life. All that pro-abortion advocates deny is that it kills a human person. He is absolutely right that pro-abortion advocates hold that some human beings may be killed, but that no human persons may be killed, and they rank the fetus as a human being but not a human person.

    This definitely needs to be exploited rhetorically. Pro-abortion advocates, at least the more intelligent and well versed ones, admit that they in favor of the legalization of the killing of a certain sub-class of human beings. So when someone says that “pro-life” isn’t an accurate term because “it isn’t life” or something equally stupid, one has to shoot back: well, it is alive? Every biological definition of life holds that what these cells are, are alive. And it’s also a simple fact that these cells are a human life. So when I say I am “pro-life” even if I mean, “I am pro-human life” then this is accurate. I am pro- human life, and pro-abortion advocates are indeed anti- some human life. So it is totally accurate.

    And we need to make this clear, I think. When our nation understands that pro-abortion advocates are literally anti-human life then they’ll never accept the bogus distinction whereby pro-abortion advocates try to parcel out rights to only human persons and not human beings. Or at the least it will put us on much firmer ground.

    God bless,

  30. Patrick III says:

    In fact, there are three Patrick’s here.

    I have a bit of a different take. I would say that anti-abortion is someone who opposes abortion. I would say that being pro-life means that we all enjoy a God-given right to life as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. The implication of this is that pro-life people would view Roe, like Dred Scott as an absurd decision against the Rule of Law. Anti-abortion people may view abortion as a bad thing for whatever reason. Pro-life is basically a natural law argument. I would also say that Pro-life people may support the death penalty on the grounds that life is taken away only after operation of due process of law. Self-defense grounds would also apply.

  31. Supertradmom says:

    As with all language, there are times one uses one of these two phrases, and other times, the second is more appropriate. I agree that “pro-life” is more inclusive and usually the better phrase to use. However, abortion is “the” issue, and to state clearly that we are “anti-abortion” seems to be a clear statement for those who may not understand what pro-life means. Can we not say that we are both pro-good and anti-evil? The prefix “anti” is a great way to define something. The Anti-Christ is not only against Christ, but the opposite of Christ. So too, to hold a political and moral stand of anti-abortion is to be against the intrinsic evil of the pro-abortion position.

  32. Derald says:

    Actually Father the term I am hearing more and more from the talking heads is “anti-choice”. They (the media) are such darlings.

  33. Cromagnum says:

    I think the better term might be “anti-Murder.”

    1) the antithesis: “pro-murder” is not something sane people agree with.
    And that is what the pro choice truly is.
    2) It truly and succinctly describes what the pro life/Anti abortion group truly feels
    that abortion is, murder, or the unjust taking of another’s life.

  34. problem says:

    Aside from political considerations which may dictate which term is selected by Catholics. The term pro-life is not an accurate discriptor. It is true as Fr. correctly pointed out that the term “pro-life” is more inclusive but this is precisely the problem. The term includes too much, I think.

    The better terms are probably “anti-abortion”, “anti-murder”, or perhaps “pro-innocent life”. Catholics seem to affirm that killing of humans is not always intrinsically evil and therefore Catholics are not completely pro-life. The exception to this is of course, the adherents to Cardinal Bernadin’s “consistent ethic of life”.

    There are two consequences to the use of the “pro-life” nomenclature both of which undermine the end to which the Catholic Church claims it is directed: the salvation of souls.

    First, this nomenclature has lead many committed Catholics to deny Church teaching on just war and capital punishment. I would say that most Catholics now think that the Church is opposed to these two teachings in the speculative order and not the practical order. This is evident even in a few of the posts on WDTPRS. This is a very serious problem and frankly bishops have encouraged this line of thinking. Again as I pointed out earlier, it is simpler to make the argument of the pacifists: no violence.

    Second, most of the world (by “world” I mean this in the biblical sense.) is now convinced of one of two things. Either the RC has changed its doctrine on just war and capital punishment or that the Church is simply inconsistent and therefore not to be taken seriously, at least on intellectual grounds. Of course, this second point is to a large extent a consequence of the confusion of Catholics spoken above.

    In either points one or two, souls are endangered.

  35. Mark says:

    I think that there might be differences between pro-life and anti-abortion even beyond the fact that the former covers a wider range of issues (but is also more ambiguous).

    In these very comments, I notice a growing divide between those of us (to whom the term “anti-abortion” might be more applicable) who see the movement as more of a Rescue Mission, and those (the “pro-lifers”) who see it more as a Missionary Effort.

    Obviously, the two aspects are inter-related. “Changing hearts” is obviously necessary to convince people to illegalize abortion in the long run, and those of us more focused on the immediate threat of abortion to individual lives still do ultimately hope for the repentance of those involved as well.

    But it seems that the Rescue Mission (“anti-abortion”) type are more like to call a spade a spade and admit the concrete effects we wish illegalization to secure (police actually stopping abortions, punishing abortionists as murderers, restraining mothers until their babies are born and safe)…while the Missionary (“pro-life”) types are vaguer and want laws to “reduce” abortion and “make a moral statement” but who refuse to openly suggest that the State, if it were illegalized, could actually use its policing force to coercively prevent and punish abortion.

    The “pro-lifers” seem more inclined to seemingly be pacifists on principle, whereas “anti-abortion” types seem willing to admit that abortion is of such a gravity that force could used to stop it IF force could be used practically and effectively (though it cant be, it seems, without the support of the State).

    The “pro-lifers” are more inclined to see abortion as a “moral” or “spiritual” crisis and their efforts as more and more about “changing hearts” and saving souls…whereas the “anti-abortionists” still view the immediate primary purpose of the movement as directly saving the lives of individual babies physically threatened by it.

    In this sense “pro-lifers” are bound to seem more quietist and resigned, even if “anti-abortionists” are more likely to seem cynical or jaded. Possibly because “pro-lifers” see it as an abstract spiritual quest that they “win” by just trying, whereas “anti-abortionists” are much more likely to view success in concrete physical terms as lives-saved-vs-lives-lost.

  36. Dr. Eric says:

    In the town that I used to practice there was a family that had 10 children, the 8th child was my receptionist. They were a good Catholic family who went to Mass as much as they could. The family’s children also had on average about 4 children per couple as they were all still young. This multigenerational(?) family went to Mass at the bare bones minimum once per week, but more likely about 3 times per week.

    Also in the town was a family practice doc who was Missouri Synod Lutheran, he had 8 children and drove them all around in a conversion van that looked like it used to belong to a state institution as it was all white.

    These two families are Pro-Life. I have seen others protest at Abortuaries and have found that these middle aged couples have only 1 or 2 kids. These families are Anti-Abortion. There are even atheists who are against abortion but contracept so they can have only 0-2 children.

    Pro-Life means that you want as many children that your family and health can handle. Pro-Life means that you follow the Church’s teaching on Contraception and “Women’s Health.” And you use or don’t use the NFP methods available.

    All Pro-Lifers are Anti-Abortion, while not all Anti-Abortion people are Pro-Life.

  37. Joe says:

    “Abortion” = Child-murder

    “Anti-Abortion = Anti-Child-Murder

  38. Mark VA says:

    The term “anti-abortion” is the preferred term of the mainstream media, which is overwhelmingly sympathetic to the progressive causes, including abortion. It’s a rather clunky and transparent manipulation of language and meaning, which most thinking people can see thru without much mental effort.

    The term “pro-life” is used mostly by those who view the unborn as human beings already endowed by their Creator with the inalienable right to life. It encompasses a wide range of endeavors on behalf of the unborn, both corporal (such as help to unwed mothers) and spiritual (such as prayer). It definitely is not “quietist and resigned” as Mark above erroneously suggests, but is the most effective way to change the hearts and minds of those who look on human beings in crudely utilitarian ways. It has a demonstrated history of numerous conversions to the pro-life camp.

    The pro-life movement, by its very definition, must condemn violence and coercion or manipulation of conscience. Such misguided efforts turn people away from pro-life causes, and in the long run result in more abortions. But the pro-life movement must also insist on having a constant and large public voice, and refuse to be intimidated into silence.

  39. Mike M says:

    Pro-Life is, or should be, a more specific thing than simply “anti-abortion.” The “Pro-Life” movement should affirm the universal dignity of human life. It should also be more than simply a political movement, since life is more than just a political issue. Rather, it needs to be a broad social movement to change our culture at many levels to respect human life.

  40. Michael J says:

    Mark in VA,

    I suggest that you may want to qualify your statement thet “The pro-life movement, by its very definition, must condemn violence and coercion or manipulation of conscience”

    As I understand the issue, it is the duty of the state to protect the common good – even if it means resorting to violence, coercion and manipulation of conscience.
    Otherwise, there is nothing that can be done regarding the murderer of Tillman.
    He acted, I would bet, in accordance with his ill-formed conscience.

    Additionally, and this last part is not directed specifically at you, I would suggest that those who are in favor of the *just* application of the death penalty are more supportive of the sanctity of human life than those who would eliminate it altogether.

  41. Mark says:

    Ah, a good example of the divide between those of us who adopt the more concrete label “anti-abortion” and those who adopt the more nebulous “pro-life”.

    Mark in VA doesnt believe in “coercion” or “manipulation of conscience” to stop abortion. Which, as Michael J points out, is definitely not how many of us feel when it comes to the power of the State. The State should use its legitimate coercive force to stop abortion, regardless of “conscience” claims in those seeking or preforming it.

    Mark in VA goes on to use a lot of words like “change the hearts and minds” and “conversion to the pro-life camp” and takes an ironically utilitarian position about sacrificing concrete rescue efforts in the present for the sake of “the long run”.

    This is a good example of the difference between those of us who are anti-abortion and those who are “pro-life”. The former are likely to think of this concretely in terms of saving lives. The latter are likely to think of it as a vaguer ideological “cause”.

  42. Former Altar Boy says:

    As I recall, when the pro-life movement began, we called ourselves “anti-abortion” and the other side “pro-abortion.” The media then helped them by renaming them “pro-choice.” Consequently, we renamed our side “pro-life” and the press went along (it got the word abortion out of the news and it took less space in the newspapers).

  43. Mark says:

    Another specific practical difference between pro-life “missionary” types and anti-abortion concrete types…is in how they view the mother. Pro-lifers are more likely to “sympathize” with the mother, acknowledge her “difficult situation” and see her just as “misguided” and practically an unculpable victim herself, and see helping her “heal” just as much a part of the movement as actually saving the baby.

    Anti-abortionists are much less likely to be so soft on her. A mother in Nazi Germany might have been poor and alone and afraid and have needed to feed her kids…when she hears that the Nazis are offering a large cash reward for turning in Jews to be taken away! The mother might know where some Jews are and turn them into the authorities to get the money to feed her family. After all, she’s so poor and afraid and alone, right? Too bad! A very difficult decision, yes? NO! That’s like the “just following orders” plea. I dont think many of us would sympathize with such a German woman’s actions. Neither should we sympathize so much with the mother in the case of abortion.

  44. Mark VA says:

    Michael J: perhaps I didn’t make it clear – the pro-life movement cannot assume the powers that we, the people, delegated to the state. The powers you listed in your post do indeed properly belong to the state alone;

    Mark: my advice to anyone espousing your position is to study the ways Pope John Paul II used in his successful struggle with the communists. Plus, don’t forget that those who call themselves “pro-choice” also have a conscience, which we’re trying to reach and inform. And that pieces on the chessboard can be rearranged rather quickly when pro-choice people have a chance to hear pro-life arguments and reflect on them. Also, reflect on the fact that the leaders of the pro-abortion camp, while always talking about an exchange of views with us, actually strenuously avoid any such debates, and shield their followers from our arguments by stereotyping us.

    One last point: Mikhail Gorbachev had a change of heart regarding the Brezhnev doctrine. That change of heart stopped the use of very real and overwhelming power he had at his disposal, power which his predecessors used as a matter of course. Let’s not underestimate the power of a “change of heart”.

  45. Michael J says:

    Mark in VA,

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around what you are saying should be done to end this abomination. I understand that violence and coercion or manipulation of conscience may very well turn people away from pro life causes. Certainly I would prefer that abortion be eliminated because everyone finally realizes what an evil it is. On the other hand, I would be more than happy to see it eliminated because the State justly wielded its power.

    The primary goal must always be to eliminate this and while we are waiting for a change of heart, millions of children are murdered and quite possibly sent to hell.

  46. Maria says:

    Father: Could you provide a definition of a Novena and its historicalmeaning in the church?
    Thank you,

  47. Maria says:

    Father: Could you provide a definition of a Novena and its historical meaning in the church?
    Thank you,

  48. Maria says:

    Father: Could you provide a definition for a Novena and explain its hsitorical meaning in the church?
    Thank you,

  49. Mark VA says:

    Michael J:

    There may be some miscommunication between us. The pro-life movement proceeds on more than a single front. One being legal, that is reversing Roe v. Wade, and efforts for an explicit legislative recognition for the right to life for the unborn, on the basis of their humanity alone. The other front is cultural. That means exercising our right to present our case, repeatedly, in the public square, for the purpose of informing the consciences of those who are pro-choice. Both fronts should proceed in parallel.

    As far as your statement that “…millions of children are murdered and quite possibly sent to hell”.

    I would like to ask those among us who are ordained to weigh in on this – can a Catholic believe that the aborted children can be “quite possibly sent to hell”??

  50. Mark says:

    “my advice to anyone espousing your position is to study the ways Pope John Paul II used in his successful struggle with the communists.”

    Make an uneasy alliance with a system that turns out, in the end, to be the greater (though more subtle) evil?

    Because that’s what he did.

    In hindsight, I am entirely convinced that American Capitalism was not the lesser evil.

    We shouldnt have sided with either.

    The “lesser of two evils” principle has severely compromised us institutionally and gotten us entangled with interests which are definitely not Catholic. In siding with American Capitalism against Soviet Communism, we became naive patsy vectors for spreading the ideologies of pluralism, secularism, liberal democracy, anglo-protestant/amero-zionist cultural hegemony, media fueled decadence and complacency, and a system built on usury and the exploitation of poor countries.

  51. Mark says:

    “Plus, don’t forget that those who call themselves “pro-choice” also have a conscience, which we’re trying to reach and inform.”

    And at what point do we break down and admit that they dont? Or that saving lives immediately takes proirity, in the immediate moment, to saving their souls in the long run?

    At what point DO they become equatable with Nazis, Islamic terrorists, Southern slaveholders, etc???

    At what point do we become willing to admit that they are “monsters” like racists and pedophiles are treated?

    At what point do we say that the evil meme has so infected and compromised them that, even if theoretically admitting a redeemable humanity underneath, we may view them with contempt and disgust? As society already does with the Nazis, pedophiles, Al Qaeda, etc?

    The sociology between the “monsterizing” phenomenon needs to be analyzed. The question of when and why tipping points are reached in societies like before the Civil War likewise. And the Church needs to see if the institutional resources (both material and psychological) that it possesses, couldnt be used to foment conditions that would end abortion in a more urgent fashion.

  52. Michael J says:

    Mark in VA

    Council of Florence (DS 1306, DB 693)
    “The souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin,
    *or in original sin only*, descend into the realm of the dead
    (infernum) however they are to be punished with different penalties.”

    St. Thomas (Question 1. The Quality of Those Souls Who Depart This Life With Original Sin Only)

    “On the contrary, Augustine says (Enchiridion xxiii) that the mildest punishment of all will be for those who are burdened with original sin only. But this would not be so, if they were tormented with sensible punishment, because the pain of hell fire is most grievous. Therefore they will not suffer sensible punishment. ”

    So, unless you can demonstrate that aborted babies received baptism or extra Sacramental Baptism it is perfectly within acceptable Catholic belief to say that aborted babies certainly are in hell, but do not suffer torments.

    On the other hand, the Catechism (CCC 1261)
    ” permits us to have hope that there is away to salvation
    for infants who die without Baptism.”

    While I certainly hope that these victims are in Heaven, I am not willing to take that risk so presume that they likely are not.

  53. Mark says:

    Well, don’t presume anything as “likely”. We simply dont know. God certainly hasnt ever positively revealed that He doesnt step in and infuse grace to otherwise non-resistant souls before the moment of death. So we may hope. We may even have good hope, or think it likely. But the point is, our knowledge is not certain like it is for the Revealed means, so we must not presume, and must still baptize urgently as if there is no other way, because as far as we know with the certainty of faith, there might not be.

  54. Michael J says:

    This does not make sense. We can think it likely that aborted babies are in Heaven, but we should not presume anything as likely? Both because God has chosen not to reveal this?

    The point I was trying to make is that anyone who thinks it likely that an aborted baby is in Heaven is gambling with *someone else’s* soul. More importantly, people should know that the horror of abortion could be even worse than imagined.

  55. Mark says:

    “This does not make sense. We can think it likely that aborted babies are in Heaven, but we should not presume anything as likely? Both because God has chosen not to reveal this?”

    Yes. We may hope, but not presume.

    There’s a big difference between privately thinking it is likely after the fact, and acting presumptuously even though you dont know with the certainty of faith.

    Thinking that an aborted baby is likely in heaven, after the fact, isnt gambling with someone else’s soul. It’s ACTING like you just assume they will go there, before the fact, which is making the presumptuous gamble.

    We may hope and think it likely that God save such souls. But, at the same time, He never explicitly said that so to not be urgently concerned with baptizing them is to be presumptuous on our part. For which WE might be held accountable, even if God does in fact save the innocent.

  56. Michael J says:

    I do not think it all presumptuous to take God at His word. He has revealed through the infallible Magisterium of His Church that those who die without the laver of Baptism will not make it into Heaven. The only thing we can hope, then is that he will miraculously step in in the moments before death and Baptize these victims. As you pointed out, though He has not explicitly said one way or the other whether He will do this.

    The safest and least presumptuous course of action then is to do everything in our power to eliminate this barbarous practice. Not reduce, restrict, change hearts, or study the conditions under which it would be feasible to consider discussing proposing a law that would fund an agency to study the ways in which abortion can be eliminated. There is time enough for that once abortion is gone.

    As to your other point, how on earth are we to baptize these murdered children? Do you really applaud Tillmans common practice of “baptizing” the dismembered remains of those he had just butchered?

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