Pro-Life: We're the Ones Trying To Stop the Violence

Author: Mary Beth Bonacci


by Mary Beth Bonacci

Last time, we decided that we're in big trouble, just like Pope John Paul II says, if we don't defend life. If some people have so little respect for life that they'll kill unborn bablies, they won't stop there. So we need to get busy.

The next question, then, is how do we get busy? How do we defend life?

Today, I'm going to start with how we don't defend life. We don't do it by taking other peoples' lives. We don't do it by killing abortion doctors.

I'm sure that any of you who are known among your friends as being pro-life have had to deal with this since Dr. Britton was killed in Florida this summer. People are asking you to explain how, in the name of pro-life, someone can justify killing someone else. You see people on TV ranting and raving about how these pro-lifers are really a bunch of violent terrorists, and you're not too sure you even want to be known as pro-life any more. How can pro-lifers defend killing this guy?

They can't. And they haven't.

Pro-liferes who actually do respect human life are appalled by what happened. Every single national pro-life leader has denounced the killing in no uncertain terms. This is exactly what we're against. A real pro-lifer is the last person who would kill anyone. We're against violence. We're the ones outside trying to stop the violence. We're the ones who want people to live.

Paul Hill, the guy who has been charged with the murder, has supported the idea of killing abortion doctors for quite a while, while saying that it's justified in a "war," and it's self-defense to defend those innocent children against a man who would kill them.

Now, there's no doubt Dr. Britton was killing unborn children. And that's a very bad thing to do. A hideous thing. But even people who do hideous things have a right not to have their lives taken by individual vigilantes. To kill him was to play God -- judge, jury and executioner all rolled up into one. Self- defense? The Church says that, in self-defense, if someone is in immediate danger, we have the right to exert as much force as is necessary to remove the danger. No more. What would it have taken to stop the danger? Sitting in front of the door could definitely be justified. Shooting to kill can't.

The biggest evil in abortion is not the fact that babies die. That's evil, all right, and man has no right to do that. But those babies go to a better place. The biggest evil is the eternal souls that are lost -- people who play God taking other lives and lose their souls as a result. That's why we should pray for the souls of those who perform abortions.

What happened here? A man in the midst of a sinful life was shot in cold blood. Killing him didn't stop abortion. It probably didn't save one single life. But he has been robbed of the chance to repent and to be reconciled with God. We can't know what happened to Dr. Britton's soul -- only God can judge that. But his life should not have been taken, and it definitely should not have been taken by someone claiming to be "pro-life."

Naturally, the pro-abortion forces are using this to try to convince people that all pro-lifers are violent, which is ludicrous. The thing is, every single social movement in history, from women's liberation to the civil rights movement, has had what we call a "lunatic fringe." People who tend to be unbalanced are often attracted to causes. I guess a lunatic alone is just a lunatic, but a lunatic for a cause can convince himself he's a hero. And so acts of senseless violence have always been committed in the name of social movements, no matter how noble the cause.

The difference is, with other causes, people are smart enough to recognize that the movement itself isn't responsible for the violence of individual lunatics. Paul Hill is not a "pro-life leader." No one really knew who he was. He was just a guy who showed up at a couple of meetings, and got a lot of attention for screaming that abortionists should die. Pro-lifers who are putting their lives on the line to save others don't deserve to be lumped in with him. But for some reason, being pro-life is unpopular enough that some people want to believe we're violent. I guess it's easier than accepting that we're right.

Pro-life means just that -- pro-life. It means we respect all life, not just the lives we like. A real pro-lifer brings that respect into his everyday life, and to all of his pro-life work.

Don't give up your pro-life work. Don't be afraid to tell people where you stand. Just make sure that, in you, they see what a pro-life person is really like. Remember, they'll know we are Christians by our love. Not by our guns.

Bonacci is a frequent lecturer on chastity.

This article appeared in the September 1, 1994 issue of "The Arlington Catholic Herald."

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