Q. Abortion is the direct killing of unborn children. Why shouldn’t we stop that killing by any possible means? Is using force to prevent abortion morally wrong?
A. Last week, a Colorado man walked into a Planned Parenthood center, took several people hostage, and, ultimately, killed three people and wounded many others before being captured by police. The police have said that there is no clear motive for the man’s actions, and that assuming the motive would be a mistake. But many in the media, including the Washington Post and other newspapers, have suggested that the man was encouraged by the pro-life movement to undertake acts of violence against abortion providers.
To be clear: there is not yet a discernible motive for the man’s actions. The first reports suggest that he is mentally unstable, and may not have had understandable motives. But some members of the media have intentionally aligned him with the pro-life movement in order to villainize and discredit anyone who opposes legal protection for abortion.
In fact, Catholic teaching makes clear that vigilante violence against abortion providers is morally unacceptable. Dr. Helen Alvare explains that the pro-life movement “exists to point the nation toward problem-solving that, in means and ends, respects every human being involved. It does this to witness to the real possibilities for peaceful and humane behavior as against a pervasive pro-choice philosophy that accepts the destruction of human life as a legitimate response to problems.”
The destruction of human life, except as a measure of absolute last resort in very limited circumstances, is morally wrong. Those who espouse pro-life values know this well; true pro-life Christians do not engage in killing to solve their problems. This is the reason why acts of violence in response to abortion are extraordinarily rare, and usually undertaken by those with mental health problems. The media would like to suggest that pro-life believers are radical and violent vigilantes. Those who know, live, and build the Gospel of Life know better.
Let us pray for all those who have been harmed at Planned Parenthood: for women and children, who suffer violence daily, and for those who were harmed, or lost their lives, in last week’s act of violence.
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