Michael Sean Winters has a great article on Congressman Akin’s comments regarding rape and the pro-life movement.
Those of us who wish to claim the pro-life mantle must first don the garment of empathetic humanity if our witness is to be effective, and not just effective, but true to our own vocation as baptized Christians and, therefore, evangelizing. We must acknowledge the horror of rape, not minimize it. We must try to understand what would prompt a woman to think her only viable option is to end her pregnancy, even while we disagree with the decision to do so. We must seek out women who face such circumstances and show them all the love we can, and not just in a happenstance way, but the way we Catholics do ministry, with organization and fundraising and attention to public policy. We can never, never create a culture of life until we first create a culture of love. The reason the pro-life movement so often seems stuck is, in part, because so many of its champions are mean-spirited and judgmental, so devoid of empathy, so willing to swallow foolish nonsense in order to make a point as Cong. Akin did, we miss the essentially human aspect of the problem and, just so, we get the morality and the politics wrong.
Honestly, I’ve been talking about this the last week or so and it bears repeating here. If we were all just a bit nicer to others as Catholics it would go a long way. But many times we seem angry and bitter about the opposition and never win any converts over to see our point of view. We often don’t seem concerned about women who think their only choice is abortion and the few that do don’t get the accolades that they should receive. Like my friend Michael O’Rourke at Malta House in Connecticut who I tout every chance I get.
The vision for Malta House began in 1995 when Michael O’Rourke learned that there was “no room at the inn” for many homeless pregnant women and their newborns. These vulnerable young families often found themselves on the street or living in sub-standard conditions. Malta House was conceived not only to offer food and shelter, but also to give hope for the future.
After two years, a great deal of hard work and many miracles, Malta House opened its doors as a work of the Order of Malta in Connecticut. The Order of Malta is a lay religious order of the Roman Catholic Church that has served the sick and the poor for almost 1,000 years. Many members of the Order in Connecticut devote substantial time, treasure and talent in serving homeless families in our community through Malta House.
If you’ve ever met Michael, he’s a sweetheart of a guy. Not a mean bone in that guy’s body. He keeps a running prayer list over email and always talks about praying for people. We need more folks like him and his donors come from all over the political spectrum. He just has this way of winning over all people to his cause because he’s so enthusiastic and makes this seem like a desperate cry for help without the meanness often associated with the pro-life movement.
So a very measured view from Sean this morning prompted more of the same from me. In short, stop being mean. It will go a long way.
And Congressmen Akin, I don’t think anyone could just will a pregnancy away. I will pray for you today and hope that you really were just misinformed and might choose better words next time.