Life and politics

Catholics (should) bring a clarity and integrity to the fight for life that political extremes don't

Toxins harm all humans, especially the fragile lives of the unborn.

In medical or scientific communities, this is not a controversial statement. Within many fields, it’s well known that the presence of certain chemicals can derail the development of a child’s nervous system and brain—a process that takes off about ten days after conception.

During this time, a series of specialized cells relocate within a person’s developing body and align to form the nascent spinal cord. This simple array of cells then moves, divides, multiplies, connects with other cells, and forms structures that fold into specialized areas that become the brain and spinal column. It’s a miraculous process that must occur with exacting precision if the child is to form normally. Toxins—such as mercury or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—can create small but disastrous breakdowns in this process, crippling the unborn baby.

Maybe even killing them.

This ecological and public health truth seemed to have gone unnoticed by congressional Democrats last week, a timely omission as preparations were underway for Washington D.C.'s 47th March for Life, which will flood the nation’s capital with waves of young and old, men and women of many faiths or none, and of a full spectrum of political parties and ideologies.

The takeaway is yet another reminder that the place of politics in the fight for life is complex and sometimes quite troublesome.

On January 10, Democrats in the House of Representatives objected to an amendment that would have added the unborn to the designation of “potentially vulnerable populations” that must be protected from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Developed for various commercial uses, most especially as fire retardants, these chemicals are being studied to better understand and mitigate human health impacts.

The takeaway is yet another reminder that the place of politics in the fight for life is complex and sometimes quite troublesome.

Specifically, last week's partisan line-in-the-sand denial of the humanity of the unborn demonstrates once again that the pro-abortion extremes of the Democratic Party are so entrenched in their insistence that abortion is protected that they’ll even deny the unborn protection from known environmental harms. Now, of course, the other side of the aisle has their extremes—politicians and pundits that disdain efforts for environmental protection, even if they’re vocal about protecting the unborn.

For Catholic ecologists, the understanding that everything is connected, as Pope Francis continually reminds us, should make all this difficult to fathom.

Fortunately, there are reasonable minds in both parties. ConservAmerica, formerly known as Republicans for Environmental Protection, and Democrats for Life are two major groups that do wonderful work, even if they receive little attention among the mainstream media and political elites.

For now, as pro-lifers prepare to lay siege to Washington D.C. in our annual and massive demonstration of support for the innocent and helpless, we people of faith must acknowledge that we live in the real world. And the real world is a political one. That means that while we brothers and sisters in Christ may tend toward this party or that one, while we may march and take our message to one political leader or another for the cause of life, in the end, we must always remember this: Our King and our faith transcend all political designations. Our unifying call is to baptize politics, not be drowned by partisan, self-serving, contradictory extremes.

Photo: Flickr/Elvert Barnes

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.