Sunday October 22, 2017

Catholic philosopher attacked for being "not pro-life enough"

Pro-Life demonstrators set up a display in front of the U.S. Capitol during the  March for Life, held on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling.

Pro-Life demonstrators set up a display in front of the U.S. Capitol during the March for Life, held on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling. (Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images))

Listen 29:29

Rebecca Bratten Weiss considers herself a pro-life feminist. 

She's a philosopher, a practicing Catholic and the co-founder of something called the New Pro-Life Movement — a movement that is not simply concerned with the rights of the unborn, but also with ensuring adequate supports for children and their parents. 

Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Rebecca Bratten Weiss

Weiss was also an adjunct professor of English at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. But the university terminated its relationship with her late in the summer, apparently for being insufficiently pro-life.

She was excoriated in a lengthy article for LifeSite News — a conservative Catholic news website — that branded her as a radical feminist leftist who posed a threat to Catholicism. She has been called an "evil leftist" by some conservative Catholic bloggers.

Weiss says the New Pro-Life Movement is about "defending life at every stage of existence." 

"This includes defence of the life of the unborn child, but also concerns about euthanasia, capital punishment, gun violence, access to health care, the environment."

She says the idea of a new anti-abortion movement came to a head with the rise in Donald Trump's popularity as a "pro-life hero," and the tolerance for rampant misogyny within Trump's support base. 

The movement was a response to the "radical and extreme approach of the Republican Party," and it's "anti-life" stance on many issues, she adds.

"The Republican Party has claimed pro-life as part of its brand while endorsing all kinds of things that we think are foreign to a truly pro-life ethos.

The approach to homosexuals, the approach to immigrants, the approach to race issues, cutting health care — all of this is, to my mind, anti-life."

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Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, addressed the 44th annual March for Life on January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. The march is a gathering and protest against the United States Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Weiss distinguishes her movement from "other so-called leftist pro-life organizations." 

"Our primary emphasis is not on attacking abortion supply, by shutting down Planned Parenthood, by shutting down abortion providers... [It's] looking at the reasons why there is demand for abortion in the first place and considering how we can eliminate the injustices that drive women to seek this — what's often for them a last desperate resort.

"We do believe that the unborn child has value. We do believe that the unborn child should be protected. We are concerned with coming up with ways of doing this that don't end up leaving women in desperate situations where they have no legitimate choice."

March for Life

Pro-Life demonstrators in front of the Supreme Court during the annual March for Life on the anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling in Washington, USA on January 27, 2017. (Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Weiss sees no contradiction between being pro-life and feminist at the same time. 

"Older feminists I've spoken to remember what it was like before Roe vs. Wade, and are terrified that we're going to go back to the back alley abortions and the shaming of public women. I understand those concerns and I share them myself, which is why I don't want to go back to that.

I want to go forward to something better, where women have access to the support that they need to make choosing life a legitimate option."

Weiss writes a blog called Suspended in her Jar for Patheos, a website devoted to religion and spirituality.

Click 'listen' above to hear the full interview.