Problems Are Bigger Than Slogans Allow

As I was walking through the parking lot at school this morning—all the way to the end, past all the other cars—I noticed once again the abundance of "pro-life" bumper stickers plastered all over anything from a 2009 Honda to a 1973 Buick. Anything that has a bumper (or had one at some point) is worthy of a sticker around here. Although the theme of most, as I mentioned, has something to do with a pro-life message, the actual catch phrases are all quite different. The difference led me to writing this post...

Sometimes I wonder how much pro-life Catholics know about the cause for which they fight. I wonder what they believe the opposition believes—do the "pro-lifers" understand "pro-choicers" to be ignorant of facts like: "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart," or "Some Choices Are Wrong"? While these slogans are insightful to some degree, they don't really address the issue at hand. People who kill pre-born infants realize that they are killing something living. Who would deny that? For this reason, bumper stickers promoting ideas like "Your Mother was Pro-Life" and "A Child is Not a Choice" seem a bit more germane. In other words, they hit closer to the aim of the pro-life movement, which is to demonstrate the wrongs of abortion based not on biological facts or undeniable claims of ethical certainty, but upon the reality that an unborn fetus is, in fact, a human being. Of all the stickers I've seen, "Abortion is Murder" seems to sum this up best.

Without detracting from the enthusiasm of those who enjoy publishing such views in the form of automotive advertisement, I think we are called—as pro-life Catholics—to something higher than slogan slinging. We are called to something more magnificent than uttering pithy responses to questions which we (often wrongly) assume pro-choice factions are asking themselves. They don't want to know that children are not choices, or that abortion kills living cells. They don't even want to know if we think abortion is murder (implying that a person is involved). They want to know why we believe that the unborn are human beings just as much as you and I are human beings. The perplexingly naive positions of public figures, like Nancy Pelosi, on topics of human life and conception lend further evidence to the urgent need for education and not simply partisan enthusiasm. This question of "why" is much harder to answer than the question of "if" we believe abortion is murder. Of course we do, but can we explain it? And if so, can we explain it intelligibly?

Above all else, prayer will be the key to stopping abortion in America. Alongside prayer, it is an education as to why the Church believes and teaches what She does that will inform hearts and minds to pursue the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the reconstruction of the legal parameters regarding the multifarious "life issues" we hear about so often. Let us not forget that the Church's mission to spread the Good News of Christ to all nations is likewise a call to inform the world of the Eternal Logos, whose Truth governs reality, and who we can come to know by our experience and knowledge in this world.

Is there a catchy way to put that on a bumper sticker?

  1. gravatar

    # by Suzanne - October 1, 2008 at 9:04 PM

    After about a year of living here, I started making my own bumper stickers -- my favorite one featured the theme from one of the recent Meetings in Rimini:

    "Reason is the need for the Infinite and culminates in the sigh and the presentiment that this Infinite be manifested."

    and "Well don't all travel by bubble!" (quote from the musical "Wicked")

    and "nor could all earth's rotting guess that life for living shall not find the rule" (e.e. cummings)

    and "You live for love of something happening now" (Giussani)

    But then we got a new car and a new printer and the ink in the new printer runs in the rain, so no new bumper stickers for the new car!

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    # by Catherine Nolan - October 8, 2008 at 1:33 PM

    Personally, I think we're in a war, and we need to use all the ammo we've got. The hard part is discerning where to use what.

    It reminds me of once doing Life Chain with a bunch of people. Someone was holding a sign that said "Abortion kills children," and a teenaged girl walked by and started laughing. "Of course it kills children," she said. "That's what it's supposed to do."

    We have to start from rock bottom. Like you said, prayer is the most effective way.

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    # by Mandolin Mike - October 26, 2009 at 2:50 AM

    Andrew, I have bumper stickers on my car for one -- and only one -- reason: That a woman with a crisis pregnancy (and who is weighing whether to have an abortion or not) will hear from at least one person, "If you are pregnant, it's a baby."

    I'm with you -- slogan slinging does little good. Pro-life bumper stickers must first of all convey the truth that can change the mind of a woman or man dealing with a crisis pregnancy.

    Please check out healingtheculture.com and the work Fr. Spitzer is doing to educate pro-life people to articulate and intelligently defend the pro-life position. If only we could somehow teach Pelosi, Biden and Obama how their pro-abortion ideology violates cultural principle after principle, they'd soon see that their positions are indefensible.

    I take that back. They already KNOW their positions are indefensible; That's why they refuse to dialog with anyone! No, our work is one the ground and in the trenches with anyone who is willing to listen.

    Again, check out HealingTheCulture.com. I think you'll find the work they do fits perfectly with the work you are currently doing.