At the beginning of the year, it was fellow pro-lifers – more than anyone else – who were warning me about COVID-19. As recently as last month, these same pro-lifers were up in arms about the devastation the Chinese Communist Party had wreaked upon the world. Then, inexplicably, sometime between then and now, many (but not all) of them did a 180, and I haven’t the faintest idea how to reconcile their previously shrewd position with their fresh nonchalance about the severity of the virus. It’s like once the outrage petered out, they grew bored and started to think we could talk ourselves into a new reality.
Pro-lifers have rightfully learned not to trust the mainstream media, Justin Trudeau’s government, or UN agencies like the World Health Organization, but the downside of that is that we become more prone to buying into conspiracy theories peddled by alternative news sources. There is, in fact, a middle ground that we need to learn to traverse.
There is the complex question of when and how to reopen the economy. We should be critical of how things have been handled thus far, particularly the sudden tendency to authoritarianism. We can ask questions about whether churches should have completely closed or not. That said, it is possible to probe our response to the virus without dismissing the seriousness of it.
Further, we must be very careful in how we communicate these concerns. For example, American political commentator and founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro said: “If somebody who is 81 dies of COVID-19, that is not the same thing as somebody who is 30 dying of COVID-19 … If grandma dies in a nursing home at age 81, that’s tragic and it’s terrible. Also, the life expectancy in the United States is 80.”
Yes, pro-choicers immediately ran with the worst interpretation of his comments (and claimed that they invalidated Shapiro’s pro-life stance, as they’re liable to do whenever a pro-lifer disagrees with them on a separate issue – be it immigration, the environment, gun control, etc.). However, no doubt, these remarks do come off as callous.
As Shapiro and company keep mentioning, there are always trade-offs with freedom – like how we permit people to drive vehicles even though millions will die from car accidents – and that while the quarantine is in force, other social ills such as poverty, mental illness, and domestic abuse are rearing their heads.
However, we also cannot be so quick to forget what happened in New York City or Italy when hospitals were overwhelmed. How many members of vulnerable populations like the elderly or disabled were denied medical treatment? How many died alone? How many were deprived of proper burials or funeral services? How many terrified women gave birth without loved ones by their side?And here, in Canada, the virus has spread like wildfire through our long-term care homes.
Frighteningly, who knows how much worse it could have been? (A question we all must keep top-of-mind.
These harsh circumstances are, of course, distressing, but even more so to pro-lifers, as these circumstances are antithetical to a Culture of Life in which the dignity of every person is recognized, even and especially in death, and our codependent natures embraced.
So how dare we claim that this virus isn’t a big deal, that it’s no different than the flu.
I didn’t write this column to stipulate a specific course of action going forward, because I’m not an expert on this topic (and neither are most of you). I wrote this column because the rhetoric of trivializing the pandemic and downplaying the damage left in its wake – a rhetoric I’ve sadly seen adopted by many people I otherwise admire but who are sick of staying indoors – is a bad look for a movement which claims that each and every human life is precious and its worth incalculable and that truth is, well, necessary.
My prescription: A healthy dose of skepticism (towards all news and information sources – even the YouTube video a friend told you to send onto ten others) and a great deal of humility and sensitivity. Be cautious and temperate, recognizing how little we actually know, and do your best to stop propagating misinformation.
You might think that there’s little harm in throwing conspiracy theories out there “because they could be true,” but in aggregate, doing so really hurts the credibility of the pro-life movement,which we’re all viewed as representatives of by our pro-abortion friends and family members. As we’re already widely portrayed as lunatics, we need all the help we can get in being taken seriously. The first step: Take the pandemic seriously.