As many of my longtime readers both here at Liberal America and at Daily Kos know, I walked out on the “pro-life” movement in 2011 when I could no longer tolerate its growing lack of respect for basic decency and dignity. A number of events in the last six years have not only confirmed this assessment, but suggested that it’s more accurate to call this movement “forced-birth.” After all, what passes for “mainstream” among the so-called leaders of this movement has become more and more extreme by the minute.
In the last three-plus years alone, we’ve seen “mainstream” abortion foes suggest that victims of rape and incest–even if they’re children–should not be allowed even the option of an abortion. We’ve seen them warn rape victims that they risk being branded as murderers if they get an abortion. And, of course, we’ve been told that standing up for the sanctity of life requires supporting a man who revels in degrading women and another man who apparently had no qualms about pursuing girls young enough to be his daughters.
Well, add another outrage to the list. Apparently a Catholic priest thinks that taking rudimentary steps to keep Planned Parenthood clinics safe would be no different from helping Nazis slaughter Jews.
On Thursday’s edition of “Catholic Answers Live,” a daily radio show dealing with Catholic apologetics, host Father Paul Keller fielded a question from “Matthew,” a handyman from Nebraska. He wanted to know what to do if he wound up “doing business with an unethical company.” Listen here; Matthew’s exchange begins at the 36:40 mark.
Matthew installs fire alarm systems, and wanted to know what to do if he ever had to install fire alarms at Planned Parenthood facilities. Keller’s response was absolutely breathtaking.
“It would not be a good thing to be involved in helping somebody who is taking a life. If you want to get a lot of clarity about this, think about if you were in Nazi Germany, and you were asked by Hitler to install a fire alarm, or a sprinkler system, in one of the guards’ shacks right next to the ovens that were killing Christians and Jews, and so forth. I don’t think you’d want to even set foot in an internment camp such as was had in that part of the world.”
Wow. So much for having any sense of proportion. But then again, lack of proportion seems to be standard operating procedure in the forced-birth movement. I once walked out of a church when the pastor compared all the abortions that have taken place since Roe v. Wade to all the people who have died fighting for this country.
Keller kept digging. He drew another parallel–installing fire alarms at a Ku Klux Klan facility, given their virulent racism. He then suggested that Planned Parenthood was far worse than the KKK, since “their business is to kill babies in the womb.” For that reason, Keller felt that “it would be unethical” to work with Planned Parenthood “in any way.”
When Sarabeth Caplin of Friendly Atheist saw this, she was naturally appalled at the mere suggestion that “installing a basic safety feature” would be even remotely unethical. To her mind, it was a “no-brainer” to want to do all that was possible to keep people from burning to death–a stance that should be rooted in “a basic sense of decency.” She wondered if the good Father considered whether a fire alarm “may mean getting unborn children out of the building at the first hint of smoke.”
To give you an idea how extreme Keller’s advice was, it echoed sentiments that have been expressed in the more extreme circles of the forced-birth movement for some time. For instance, in 2016, Alan Maricle of Abolish Human Abortion hit the ceiling when he learned that two cops in Norman, Oklahoma were working an off-duty security detail at an abortion clinic near the campus of the University of Oklahoma. He claimed that by letting these cops work as “deathscorts” at an “altar to Molech,” the Norman Police Department was opposing “the God of the universe.” Never mind that the police department rightly stated that it has an obligation to “protect those who feel threatened.”
Whatever one may think of Planned Parenthood or abortion in general, to even suggest that installing a simple fire alarm at an abortion clinic is remotely the same as doing work at a concentration camp is outrageous. By the logic Keller is using, doing plumbing work for an LGBT rights organization helps further a “radical homosexual agenda.” Providing police protection for a white supremacist rally aids and abets hate. And on, and on, and on.
For a long time, I said that I didn’t leave the pro-life/forced-birth movement. It left me. But if this sort of talk from Keller is what passes for mainstream among abortion foes, then I’m not so sure I was ever part of it.
Keller may have thought he was preaching to the choir. But it’s time to put both him and “Catholic Answers” on notice that we heard this extremist claptrap and are not impressed. Let “Catholic Answers” have it on Facebook and on Twitter.
(featured image courtesy Province of St. Joseph, available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license)