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In 1984, I was in graduate school at Vanderbilt. At some point, there was some sort of informal gathering to discuss politics and religion.  I want to say it was held in conjunction with the anniversary of some civil rights breakthrough associated with Vanderbilt, as well, but I might be getting things mixed up on that score. Quite likely. (I do remember going to another event definitely associated with the latter – it was a panel discussion, and Roy Blount, Jr., who’d been a student at Vanderbilt at the time, was on the panel, to his great bemusement. He admitted, abashedly, as I recall, that he really didn’t think he had any good reason to be on the panel since he really hadn’t actually done anything in relationship to the event in question. He’d just been around.)
Anyway, we were in this lounge at the Divinity School, talking about civil rights, religion and politics, and of course, abortion came up. The professor who was facilitating was a liberal Presbyterian who peddled Sandista-grown coffee beans and wore a Rainbow Coalition button.
Many of the students were engaging in ritual pro-lifer-bashing when the professor stopped them.
He said, quietly, but firmly, that he admired the pro-life movement. He didn’t agree with them, believing that abortion should be legal, but he admired pro-lifers, saw their work as profoundly moral and praiseworthy.
“They believe it’s a baby,” he mused, “And they don’t want you to forget that. And maybe we shouldn’t.”
I must say, flash-forwarding ahead to the present day, that this is something I don’t hear from Catholics supportive of abortion rights in the present political moment.
(For that is what is being declared – a support for abortion rights, no matter if you call yourself “pro-life” or not. )
I hear no appreciation for the work of pro-lifers. Oh, perhaps you do not want to laud the political efforts, but what about the rest of it – most of it? I hear nothing positive about the pro-life movement or the Church’s attempts to help pregnant women and girls, to (yes) reduce the numbers of abortions in this very direct way.
No credit, no acknowledgment – even as declarations are made that what we really need to do is work, no matter what the law is, to make the choice for abortion less attractive through offering concrete support – that there are people doing this right now, maybe even down the street from where you’re sitting.
Common Ground?
Hard to see, even with a map.

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