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Equal Time to Pro-Choice?

 

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director

   
 

Do we have to give equal time to everything? Does every message we convey need to be counterbalanced by an opposing message?


More specifically, is a Catholic institution or publication obliged to permit so-called "pro-choice" views to be aired to "balance off" the pro-life message?


I have heard people assert that the answer is yes. I want to respond clearly that the answer is "no way!"


It is not that I oppose academic investigation into opposing views. In fact, a good exploration of the "pro-choice" arguments would do society a lot of good, because it would reveal not only that such arguments are weak, but that authentic arguments are for the most part entirely absent from the "pro-choice" side. "Pro-choice" itself is a meaningless phrase. (Go ahead, try to just "choose.")


Furthermore, in talking about abortion, it helps to decide what we are talking about. On a radio talk show that was supposed to be about abortion, I began to read a description of the abortion procedure from a medical textbook. I was told we weren't talking about that. So I challenged the host to make up his mind: either we're going to talk about abortion, or let's not pretend that we are.


So I'm all for exploring the issue.


What I'm not for is acting as though the two sides in this controversy are equally valid. If we acknowledge that abortion is child killing, we insult ourselves by giving child-killing equal time. Do we act the same way with drug dealing, prostitution, race riots, or other activities harmful to human persons and the common good? Each time we take a stand on these activities, do we allow those who promote them to explain why they should be allowed?


If not, why not?


The reason is that they involve a victim. Airing views on abortion is more than airing views. It contributes to either saving or destroying lives.


It also contributes to saving or destroying identities. A Catholic institution or publication is Catholic because it adheres to and promotes Catholic teaching and living. This means there are boundaries. Because a Catholic institution teaches that Christ is the Lord, is it also obliged to give equal time to the claims of other "Messiahs"? In teaching why people should adhere to the Gospel, must it also teach reasons they should not? Why, then, if the Church is the "people of life" (See Evangelium Vitae #79) should she give voice to those who would legitimize the destruction of life?


Yes, let's explore the positions of those who permit or promote abortion. But let's explore them like we explore the reasons for slavery, or for the Holocaust, or for any other exploitation of human persons. Let us explore them precisely that we may prevent such tragedies from ever happening again!

   
 
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