Sunday, April 12, 2009

Notre Dame theology prof says being pro-life is too political

Well, I said I'd hold off until Monday - but I couldn't pass this one up, from the South Bend Tribune:

ND's pro-life center raises faculty concern

Apparently Dr. Porter is concerned that being actively pro-life is too "political" for Notre Dame. This is yet another example of how the focus has been taken off the human rights aspect of pro-life work. As Mr. Cassidy said in his talk at the ND Response rally - protecting life in the womb cannot be seen as just a political or religious issue, but must be viewed in the wider context of human rights. I believe the attempt to frame the rights of the unborn as a solely political issue is a deliberate attempt by the pro-choice side to marginalize the pro-life argument.

I'm not sure what Dr. Porter's concern is - she seems to think that pro-life work can only manifest itself in political activism. Apparently the only pro-lifers she's ever met are of Randall Terry's ilk. Political work is important, but it is only one aspect of pro-life advocacy. Perhaps she has never talked to any of the volunteers at the Women's Care Center. I think someone really ought to make Dr. Porter aware of the wonderful work that the staffers at these crisis pregnancy centers do. That's something Notre Dame should be proud to support, in my opinion.

In my experience, and the experiences of many of my colleagues, it is already very difficult to get undergraduates to discuss abortion in any kind of open-minded and balanced way. They are afraid to explore their own questions and concerns on this extremely difficult subject — afraid of what their peers will think, and perhaps afraid of losing the good opinion of their professors as well. Once the university gives its official approval to an anti-abortion agenda, I suspect that any kind of real academic exploration of this question will become almost impossible.

A very odd comment indeed. I would tend to think that most Notre Dame students are either pro-choice or apathetic, given that so many support Obama. If students really are afraid of ostracism for having pro-choice views - well, all I can say is that they have a taste of what it's like to be a conservative student at a public university. Growing a backbone is also part of the learning experience. Public universities often claim to give equal time to all points of view - but in practice, liberalism prevails and anyone who is pro-life is automatically viewed as anti-woman and "hateful." At least Notre Dame is honest about giving pride of place to a particular ideology - it's a Catholic school for pete's sake!

I never cease to be amazed at faculty and students who exhibit shock and horror at the fact that a Catholic university upholds and actively promotes Catholic values. Is it not enough that we have a multitude of public and private universities in this country which uphold the prevailing values of secularism and moral relativism? Must we also turn Notre Dame into one of them too?


Daniel said...

Excellent find, Christina! If it's okay with you, I would like to direct your readers to take a look at my opinion on the issue.

They can find it here:

Continue the good work!

James Garrison said...

This is the overarching plan of the anti-life crowd: if you're a religion it's a political issue and you can't touch it, and if you oppose it, it's for religious reasons, and you can't bring it into politics.

As far as a fear to speak out, my experience as a graduate student has been quite the opposite. If I wanted to pick a fight all I would have to do was wear a hat or shirt that said "Choose Life", I wouldn't even have to make any comment. I don't think undergraduates would worry any more about speaking out in class. Perhaps they should; don't you think people should feel uncomfortable for holding views that are opposed to objective morality?

Christina said...

James, my experience has been quite similar to yours. We have 8 graduate students in my research group. Most openly supported Obama in the last election. To be conservative in graduate school is to be seen as hopelessly retrograde and "anti-science," whatever that means. If the undergraduate student body is anywhere near as liberal as the graduate student body, it makes little sense for Prof. Porter to claim that pro-choice students are intimidated into silence.