Daniel P. Horan, a Franciscan friar, recently faulted pro-life advocates for prioritizing the protection of babies in the womb above environmental issues.
Though Catholic and pro-life himself, Horan wrote a piece in the National Catholic Reporter arguing that climate change should be first on pro-lifers’ to-do list.
“What good is it to prevent abortions or save the elderly from euthanasia or ensure the elimination of capital punishment if there is no air to breathe, water to drink, land to farm, plants or animals to eat, or habitats free from flooding, hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes or some of the other devastating weather phenomena?” wrote Horan, assistant professor of systematic theology and spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
He began his column by recognizing September as the ecumenical Season of Creation, a time set aside for Christians to pray and take action to protect God’s creation.
“Let us not squander this year’s Season of Creation, but instead allow it to be a time for us to reorder our priorities and form our consciences to be truly pro-life, because the future of all life is counting on us,” Horan argued.
He said the abortion issue has led to some “nasty infighting” among Catholics. He suggested that, for some, the issue of protecting unborn life is more important than it should be.
He slammed pro-lifers for supporting President Donald Trump and asserted that the president’s environmental policies “disqualify” him from being pro-life.
While I agree with the intellectual and moral integrity of the consistent ethic of life principle, which upholds that every human life — born and unborn — is inherently valuable, dignified, and must be protected, we live in a time in which there is now a more fundamental issue that threatens all life: climate change. For this reason, it seems to me dangerously shortsighted to propose directing our attention, argumentative energies, and financial resources to any singular anthropocentric ethical issue. The stakes are too high for us now to be so myopic. …
Global climate change threatens every life now and poses an existential danger to the very condition of the possibility for future life on this planet. If we are called to be moral agents guided by a seamless garment approach, as I believe we are, then climate change is the body on which such a garment hangs. The preservation of particular human lives is predicated on the future of the planet and delicate ecosystems on it that make life possible at all.
The care of the environment, of course, is an important issue. Many pro-lifers have different opinions and solutions about what should be done to protect the planet and whether environemntalists are right on the science behind climate change in the first place But to elevate the issue above the rights of unborn babies when nearly 1 million are killed every year in America alone and to fault those who make protecting their lives a top priority is wrong.
The pro-life movement primarily is about protecting human lives from intentional destruction through abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia. Other issues, like the environment, immigration, education and health care, are important to human lives as well, but they are not immediately, intentionally and violently destroying human lives.
Abortion has a ripple effect that affects present and future generations as well. It hurts mothers and fathers, grandparents. It increases the risk of future preterm births, affecting any future siblings as well. And it prevents aborted children from ever growing up, developing relationships, having children of their own or making a positive difference in the world.
Ending the violent destruction of human life should be a top priority for pro-lifers everywhere. Their cause is immediate, and abortion permanent.