The ProLife Team Podcast 71 | Michael Cousineau, Frank Pavone & Jacob Barr | A Pastor and a Priest

The ProLife Team Podcast
The ProLife Team Podcast 71 | Michael Cousineau, Frank Pavone & Jacob Barr | A Pastor and a Priest
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Listen to the National Director of Priests for Life, Frank Pavone along with Michael Cousineau, philosopher and pastor, as they discuss philosophical questions surrounding life and abortion in this engaging podcast episode recorded October 17th, 2022.

Backstory on Michael Cousineau:
“Michael is one of my beloved pastors at The Village Church in Tucson, AZ. He is very experienced in the area of philosophy and considering ideas intellectually.” – Jacob Barr, The ProLife Team Podcast Host

Summary

This is Jacob Barr, and in the recent episode of the Pro-Life Team Podcast, I had the privilege of hosting a deep and thoughtful conversation with Father Frank Pavone and Pastor Michael Cousineau. Our discussion centered around the philosophical underpinnings of the abortion debate, exploring various stances and the reasons behind them. We delved into the complexities of moral and ethical considerations surrounding abortion, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach that recognizes the value of both the mother and the unborn child.

Father Pavone and Pastor Cousineau highlighted the common tendency to avoid the biological realities of abortion and the importance of facing these truths. We discussed how people often use spiritual or religious beliefs to justify abortion, and Father Pavone shared insights into his conversations with abortion supporters. Pastor Cousineau brought a unique perspective with his background in philosophy and his personal life choices, such as vegetarianism and becoming a foster and adoptive parent, which he connects to his pro-life stance.

The episode was rich with philosophical insights, stressing the need for an honest engagement with the biological, moral, and spiritual dimensions of the abortion debate. We explored how living a life consistent with pro-life values can be a powerful witness to others. The conversation was a reminder of the importance of understanding and compassion in these discussions, regardless of our individual stances.

Reflecting the themes of our conversation, here are some hashtags that resonate with the content: #ProLifePhilosophy, #EthicsOfAbortion, #BiologicalRealities, #SpiritualPerspectives, #MoralDilemmas, #CompassionateDialogue, #LifeAffirmingChoices, #UnderstandingAbortion, #BalancedDebate, #WitnessThroughAction.

Transcript

The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Well, welcome to the pro-life Team Podcast this is an exciting day we’re going to have a great conversation and talking about some of the philosophical underpinnings of the abortion debate, some of the reasons why people take the stances that they take and what pro-life people need to not only say, but also do the words and also the witness that can change this culture of death into a culture of life. These podcasts are not scripted. The ideas presented may not be the official position of the speakers. The related organizations are the sponsors. These podcasts are free form dialogues that may include brainstorming and trying on ideas to see how they fit.

Michael Cousineau :
Please walk with us as we share stories and ideas. So Father Frank and Pastor Michael I’m glad that you are here on the pro-life Team Podcast. So as many people know Father Frank is has been working full time for 30 years to as the head person at Priest for Life working to give a voice to the unborn in order to try and stop abortions. And Pastor Michael was recently installed at my church as a pastor at the village as well as he has a background in philosophy and so I think this is going to be a wonderful episode of a pastor and a priest talking about pro-life philosophical points and I and ideas. So greetings and welcome both of you. Thanks. And so I was going to and I was going to get us started so this last Friday I was on the sidewalk and a woman who was had a sign saying I am Christian and I support safe abortions and so there’s some issues there but one of the things that she said was aren’t you support yo don’t aren’t you glad that aborted babies go to heaven And she was using that as a reason to support her stance of that abortions were OK because we should be glad that aborted babies are going to heaven. So Father Frank or Pastor Michael who would like to go first on your thoughts on this and then we can go back and forth. I have, I have not heard that one as directly before I don’t think in my life but it is a sort of common logic i think about a lot of different things and abortion is not like an exception to this i think it’s actually part of this the idea that and actually we were we were discussing Romans chapter six. Yeah, church service last night that was the passage of the Bible that we were looking at in the Serban and discussing amongst people at the church last night, me and Jake included. And it has this phrase where Paul asks if grace increases as sin increases, shouldn’t we then sin so that grace can increase all the more? And he says by no means like, certainly not. And it seems to directly address this exact pattern of thinking that if sinning gets covered by grace, shouldn’t you just go ahead and sin then what’s the big deal? And I think what it portrays is that sin itself is bad. And hence, that’s the thing that I think a lot we trick ourselves. Not just this person on the sidewalk, but we trick ourselves on a lot of ways when we think this sin gives me this temporary pleasure or it gets me out of this inconvenient situation. So I’m going to lie, or I’m going to give into this temptation to eat bad things for me or to engage in sexual immorality in some way, right? And those are temporary goods to me and so I want them and I’m excused. I’m excusing myself because I’ll Grace is going to cover it anyway.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Yeah, that that’s i agree with you, Pastor Mike it’s so, you know, in a sense we can say to people, you know, if you’re right about this, then it proves too much. You know, I mean, if i would think that a newborn baby, if somebody slaughters a newborn baby, that baby’s going to go to heaven, you know, or someone, let’s say someone was just baptized and they’re just coming up out of the water, you know, oh, and cleansed from sin, you know, OK, I’m going to shoot you right now because you’re going to go right to heaven. I mean it’s like how does one get into that kind of mindset, You know, actually this question someone asked Mother Teresa this question one time and I remember her response was, yeah, that person may go to heaven, but it’s not my responsibility to send them there. So you know, it’s you see how I think this shows too we see it in a number of other ways. How the abortion supporters will hijack concepts of faith. They’ll hijack them and use them as rationalizations, but they’ll spiritualizations. You might say it comes to mind a discussion I had one time with Doctor Martin Martin Haskell this was an Ohio abortionist who, back in the mid nineties, his medical paper revealed to the American public what came to be known as partial birth abortion, right where the birth process itself is used as the instrument of killing. I actually talked to the man and I said, how do you do this? I mean, you know, it’s a child. And his answer to me was, well, yes, he says but I don’t know when the child receives a soul. So here I was, a priest talking to him about a medical procedure, talking to the doctor about a medical procedure and the doctor’s talking to the priest about souls. So I said, I said what difference does it make if you know the baby has a soul or not? If you don’t know when the baby gets a soul, how do you know that a newborn has a soul? So can you kill the newborn just because you don’t know he has a soul? And it’s amazing how these abortion supporters, we have people of faith, have to be careful to to not let these folks hijack our beliefs, our dogmas, our scriptures, our spirituality as a cloak for evil which, of course, Pastor Michael was just, well, Saint Paul is saying in that passage that you quoted.

Michael Cousineau :
There’s a similar logic to euthanasia and I think that you probably already displayed it there is that I’m trying to kill somebody at a like a good time for them I guess. And so it’s like it’s thinking of killing as a merciful act the and so if I can bring a little bit of philosophy into things it’s kind of a consequentialist way of looking at ethics as actions are good so far as they bring about good consequences. But I think we can see the fault of that there like you said it proves too much it allows so many things that we instinctually know are immoral and we have responsibilities as morally responsible people to act in righteous ways right? To act, to act correctly, whether or not it brings about, we think, maybe in the moment, good consequences.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
You know best from my guy the other thing I was, I was thinking about when Jacob brought us this example and we deal with it we deal with it in the in the Catholic community When you’ve got these Catholic politicians saying, well, I’m for abortion, but I’m going to receive the Eucharist, you know, i want to receive the body of Christ. And I say to them, well, how do you know it’s the body of Christ You’re accepting the authority of the same church That’s telling you abortion is wrong. So it’s not because you believe in the authorities, because you’re picking and choosing what parts of the authority you want to believe. So same thing with a woman like this. It’s like, well, how do you know they’re going to heaven? How do you know there is a heaven? Oh, what is it that you really believe in? Doesn’t the same historic Christian biblical teaching that tells you that God brings us to heaven also tell you that life is sacred and you can’t kill somebody? So it’s interesting it’s a pick and choose mentality as well yeah, i’m going to be the arbiter of what parts of this authority I want to accept and which ones I don’t which means the real authority you’re believing in is you, not that authority over there.

Michael Cousineau :
Yeah, definitely true. It’s so Jake and I were talking about this example last night and I was saying it does seem like a good thing to talk over. Part of it is what are we hoping to accomplish in interacting with a person out on the street like this? What kind of conversation is productive or not? And yeah, how should we engage? So I mean, i don’t tend to work in most of my life on the level of politics or on the level of trying to get together people to vote in a certain way. That’s never been anything that I’ve done. But I do try to persuade people slowly over time, sometimes quickly in short moments, but try to persuade them through use of reason or sometimes through authority but i think rarely I’ve been in that position. I’ve really only been a pastor for like a few weeks. This is all very new to me, to even exert any kind of authority, and I still don’t know that that’s going to be the right call in most of my dealings with people. So is there anything that you’ve noticed that tends to work in dealing with somebody who’s maybe ignorant, maybe confused, maybe self justifying? But you know, is a person an ordinary human being like all of us? What gets across to them?

Fr. Frank Pavone :
You know, that question is so crucial i think so many in our audience are likely asking that same question and it brings to my mind a woman I helped years ago who was coming, transitioning out of the abortion industry. She had actually run six different clinics, legal clinics for abortion and then she came to a point in her life where she realized this was wrong and she left. Well, she told me how she would come into these places, of course for work each day and there would be the pro-life people on the outside, you know, doing what Jacob was doing the other day and trying to talk to the moms and the dads who were coming in. And she said, you know, she said when I left, when I make the decision to leave and it became known, the first people who reached out to me were those sidewalk counselors. And they were the first ones that I wanted to go to. In fact, they were the first ones I told that I was leaving. And they asked her, you know, why did you come to us didn’t you see us as the opposition? And she said, here’s why I came to you, because I knew that you knew my pain. I knew that you knew my pain. When we go out there, if we’re going to engage these people or if we’re going to protest, protest at various times is appropriate or if we’re going to do anything where we interact with them. If we can show that we know that they’re in pain, maybe it’s because they’ve had personal involvement with abortion and they’re trying to justify it. But even if that’s not the case, they’re still, they’re still in pain. I mean people who are running these clinics, people are doing these abortions, they have all kinds of pain going on internal conflicts. On a deep level, they know it’s wrong and yet they’re thing, you know, rationalizing and they’re making excuses and they’re telling themselves the lies and a lot of other people telling them lies too but it hurts. And if we come across with that compassion or say, hey, listen, we’re not against you, we’re just against we’re against the killing of these babies. But that doesn’t mean we’re against you. And in the kindness and the openness and to let them experience even while we’re doing what we’re there to do, to let them realize that you know what, there’s an open door here. If you ever want to come to us, we’re here we’re not your enemy. I think that’s the most effective stance.

Michael Cousineau :
What about certain uses of language? So like I heard you say like, so i grew up in California i’ve been in very liberal political circles my entire life. I’ve been mostly a political liberal for most of my life, although that’s not where I am currently. So when you said killing babies like that just sets people off. So I don’t disagree with you, right like I would say that that’s the objective truth of what’s going on. But do you find it useful to hold the line on the language and say this is what, objectively speaking, is correct and I’m not going to vary my language to reduce your triggering or whatever, but or is it useful to sometimes adjust things so that it’s not immediately off putting so that you can continue on the conversation?

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Yeah, absolutely yeah i agree with you and you know what I’ll usually say to them if it’s and a lot of times in these situations it’s that you know while we’re trying to reach the mom who’s going in there to have the abortion you. Most of the time it’s the people who are the escorts, you know, and the very hardcore abortion supporters that were standing there and sometimes they were listening to the things that we’re saying if we’re addressing the crowd or if we’re praying out loud or whatever it is. And what I have pre approach I take with them is to ask them questions, say OK, you’re here supporting abortion. Can you tell me what you what you mean by that? Could you describe for me what an abortion is? I mean you’re leading these people in here to have the procedure. What’s your understanding about what happens in an abortion And so and because if you say this is the killing of babies as you say it’s the it’s the objective truth and certainly as we do our general public education we say that but we also have to explain why we say that. And I and I think to folks like this if we give them that they hear it as OK, that’s the conclusion and they’ll get the they’ll be backlash because I’m leading them immediately to a conclusion rather than presenting the evidence that compels the conclusion. Now what evidence do we have that compels the conclusion well, then you go back to like, well, what is, you know, what is the abortion taking out of that mother, what are you doing and the development of the baby and all of that and then of course the harmful effect on the mother, too, but to see what are they thinking about. And I found that those who defend abortion tend to be very unwilling to describe. They’re defending it, but they won’t describe it. And I think that’s an appropriate place to start, again, in a very kind way i mean, some of these people don’t want to engage in a reasonable, kind conversation but for those who do, to go about it in a very kind way and, you know, and ask them questions, I think asking them questions also shows a certain measure of respect. Because, you know, it’s and it’s easy for a person to say, I don’t want to listen to you know, if we’re telling them a mess, I don’t want to listen to you. But it’s hard for somebody to say I don’t want you to listen to me. And if we’re asking them a question, we’re showing them some level of respect it’s like I’m interested in knowing what’s in your mind right now.

Michael Cousineau :
Other like common responses that you tend to get i mean, I so when I engage in these kind of conversations, it’s far away from an abortion provider of any kind most of the time. It’s just usually in a more casual conversation setting, although half it usually is triggered by some kind of political news. So there’s usually unfortunately some kind of hot emotion that’s flaring, but still not as much as I think or I imagine would be right on the sidewalk next to an abortion provider. Like what kind of back and forth do you tend to get what so if you ask a question, do they say, well, just removing a bundle of cells i mean, what’s the kind of go to?

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Yeah, I sometimes they’ll simply say, oh, well, you know, it’s the termination of a pregnancy. I’ll say, well, so is birth ends up pregnancy says what is it exactly that you’re doing in order to end the pregnancy? They will often simply not be able to describe it now, maybe that’s because they don’t know. And maybe it’s because, again, it’s just too painful to actually get to the reality of what this is. So, but there’s two basic responses one is they take refuge in the more abstract descriptions of the process. They will never say things like arms, legs, blood, skull, you know, dismembered, decapitate. Now those words are actually in the medical textbooks that describe what abortion is, but they won’t be in the on the lips of those who are defending it. They’ll either take that approach, it’s just, you know, the abstractions or some will go the route of saying, Oh yeah, I know this is the taking of a of a baby’s life i don’t have any argument with you there and so they’re actually embracing the idea that killing an innocent child is sometimes OK. I remember 1 early on in my in my travels for my ministry encountering a man in front of an abortion facility was there in favor of it and his sign said keep baby killing legal. And i looked at him and I said, is this person on our side and tried to make the point or is he on the other side and just coming right down and admitting what it is, Turns out he was on their side. And I remember talking with the guy and he was just like, oh, yeah, he says, you know, sometimes it’s OK And that’s where then we can pivot in those cases to, first of all, the idea we talked about before is maybe you’re proving too much you know, if it’s sometimes OK to kill the innocent, why you going to just restrict that to babies in the womb? But the other thing we pivot to then is, OK, you’re admitting this is the killing of a child. Is this helpful for that, for that mother? Because presumably you’re you want to permit it in order to help somehow. And then we go to all the evidence of how abortion harms women.

Michael Cousineau :
Ok, yes. Well, there was another aspect of the conversation that Jake brought up to me, which was So one of our arguments was that abortion has no real harm because the children killed are going to go to heaven. Something to that effect i don’t know the exact words, but it was basically that. And then the other aspect was you’re not permitted to disallow abortion unless there’s no kids in foster care. That may i remember that right yeah, that was something i didn’t share that part with Father Frank but yeah, the lady was saying there should be zero children waiting for a foster family and until that point you’re not you know there’s no reason to stop abortions because there’s children are already waiting for a home and that was her other logic. That’s the other point that she brought up.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
So in other words, we’re going to wait until there’s zero kids in foster care.

Michael Cousineau :
And.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
In the meantime, will kill the kill the other ones so that they don’t end up in foster care was that the thrust?

Michael Cousineau :
That’s what she was saying and.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
You know what i would again, is the way we could talk about this among ourselves or the, you know, a more gradual, gentle way to lead them to this conclusion but the conclusion I try to lead her to is, hey, listen, why wait? You can bring it to 0 tomorrow just by killing all the kids that are in foster care. Well, why, If you want to bring it to 0, if there’s something good about that, what are you waiting for? And obviously it’s like, whoa, we can’t kill them. They’re saying we can kill them a little bit earlier what’s the difference? And I think that’s where there’s this. It’s amazing how you know i guess the human mind can rationalize anything and you know, how is it? I think it’s a, it’s a constant. There’s a pattern to the answer to so many of the above, the arguments of the other side. The pattern being if what you’re just well, if what you’re saying justifies ending the life in the womb, how does it not justify ending the life out of the womb especially if you think about a mom who says, well, I’m getting my abortion because I’m too young let’s just take the age. I’m too young to be a mother. Hey, listen, there’s a lot of circumstances where I’ll agree with you that you’re too young. But if you bring that child to birth and you’re holding the baby on the day of his or her birth, are you still too young to be a mother and if you’re still too young to be a mother, was it OK to kill that child? Well, I don’t have the I don’t have the financial means or other socio economic support or means to raise the child. And I’m not going to disagree with you tell me your circumstances and I’ll understand your problem, but bring that child to birth and have your socio economic situation improved has it improved? Not necessarily probably not. It’s OK to kill the child, therefore. Well, no well, what’s the difference? And if there’s that, there’s this. Peter Singer said it very well and of course he’s an ethicist with whom we would disagree on a lot of things. But Peter said, you know, there’s only two consistent positions. Either oppose abortion or endorse infanticide. He says, but he says those are the only two consistent positions, because at birth, the physical process of birth cannot be such a monumental event that literally changes, whether that’s a human being or a human person or not. And he’s got, I think of pretty strong philosophical insight there you know, as far as consistency goes, right, in terms of the value of life.

Michael Cousineau :
You could say a lot of things about Peter sacred being inconsistent, not going to stick. He has one of the most consistent epithets out there. I studied under Michael Tooley, who has somewhat the same position as Yes, yeah, so I’m familiar with the position. But so i think sometimes people want to get around the moral status of the early stages of development of the of the human Organism, like they want to get away from that and talk about other aspects of a debate but what I find out, like you’re saying here, is that it almost always circles back around to that glaring disagreement is what is the moral status of an embryo a zygote fetus. Right baby? Early stages of development of the human person?

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Yes, Pastor Michael, let me ask you this from your observation, I find this constant, what might we call it, a. An avoidance of the biology. It just an avoidance. And at the same time, you know we’ve got this mantra invoked on various issues in our day now of the following science well, science is important you know, we all, you know how to learn science and in grade school and it’s certainly at the foundation of so many things in our lives. But when it comes to abortion especially, I mean so many of the folks and we’re talking about people in pretty high places of society, academia, in politics, in the courts. And these are not stupid people but they’re they speak as if we don’t know anything about the develop the biological development of the child in the world they just speak as if we, you know, we just don’t know we just don’t know. But we, but we do know, this whole body of science, Embryology, that shows us the facts, that shows us the science. What do you make of this avoidance of just of the basic biology?

Michael Cousineau :
Yeah, I I’m actually seeing it in not just abortion debates, but lots of things that have to do with sex and gender right now. There’s that an avoidance of biology, or a very self-serving and disingenuous engagement with biology. It comes up at end of life issues as well. Although in fairness, from at least where I see it, I feel like those are actually more hard cases i don’t think early life is nearly as difficult to figure out what’s going on, because I think assigning somebody the value of being actually dead is actually quite tricky in a weird way at the very end of life. But i think for most people, they really don’t know like the person on the street. Yeah, we get taught a lot of things in biology, but I mean, we get taught a lot of things about history too i mean, one of the things, the previous career of mine is being a teacher and i would teach kids lots and lots of stuff and I would be very familiar with the curriculum about English or history or whatever. And then there was constantly this refrain from outside the school. We were never taught this. And I wait a minute, I’m pretty sure you were you just didn’t remember you weren’t paying attention, right so I don’t know if the average person really knows, but what is disheartening is the higher level people who really do know better or ought to know better and are very selective and self-serving with what they choose to focus on.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Right yeah it’s a selective paying attention or avoidance and I think that’s where isn’t that where perhaps our role as pastors comes in too it’s like calling for like a spiritual integrity. It’s like we can’t just take some portions of the truth let’s look at the whole truth let’s not be afraid of the truth and then acknowledging it, welcoming and letting it shape our thinking then we can defend whatever ground we find ourselves standing on but this selective desire to avoid certain kinds of truth, it can’t be healthy, right it can’t be healthy, spiritual.

Michael Cousineau :
Yeah, I mean, there’s something to be said about whether something is like developmentally appropriate to, you know, how right of a child you’re talking to you about these things but, you know, and there’s certain times where you feel like you can be more blunt about things and other times where you need to, you know, count your language a little bit but yeah, I don’t shy away from learning about biology. I was very excited i didn’t always have been very excited to learn about biology. I made sure to take two years of it in high school and I only was required to take one. So i learned a lot and it served me well in life and i would definitely want to teach my own kids and the kids of the church eventually, to the extent that I’m involved in their education about all kinds of truths, including biology.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Right it’s so core to this issue and like you said, to many other issues in our in our world today.

Michael Cousineau :
Right. I do think the sticking point still philosophically is going to be what aspect of humanity is morally important. So for the singer Michael Tooley Peter Singer view, what’s important is some kind of brain function. So even though they’re very astute, both of those guys on the biology, they’re always going to say that’s what’s important and not these other aspects of human biology. And so I think even a very sophisticated person could have that position. I don’t know that’s where most i don’t think that’s where most people are. But I’d be i’d be really happy if a conversation got to that point, honestly, where we were talking about what features of humanity are morally relevant, what are what kinds of things matter to whether a creature, any kind of creature, but especially a human creature, right. Whether they have a moral status where we shouldn’t just kill it or kill it because of the weight of other kinds of consequences.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Right yeah that brings up an interesting point of in this whole abortion debate, a lot of people will say to you and me, well, you know, you have your religious beliefs, but i don’t want you imposing those beliefs on anyone, nor especially imposing them through the law. And you know, I’ve always responded to that by saying to them, the law protects your life, the law protects my life. That law that protects us doesn’t require anybody to believe anything about us because if somebody kills an adult and they’re brought into court to explain that themselves and they say, well, your Honor, you know, i killed the John but I don’t believe that John had a soul, though I don’t believe that John was a person using some kind of philosophical category. I didn’t believe that. Well, the judge is going to say, you know what? Doesn’t matter i don’t care what you believe. You can believe what you want. You can take any religious or philosophical view that you want. What’s what matters here in this courtroom is you took that person’s life. You can’t do that. So what does the law do does the law impose A belief, or does the law protect us despite people’s belief? I don’t care if somebody believes or doesn’t believe that I have a soul. I just don’t want them to kill me and this is what the law is meant to accomplish and what we say, what we’re trying to protect the unborn is All right you know what you believe about the unborn. We can have philosophy discussions we can have. Far as religion you know we’re This is why we preach. This is why we teach. Listen to it and see if you’re persuaded. Pray about it. Think it through. But as far as your behavior, no, the law we just want the unborn to have the same protections as the rest and that you can’t take someone’s life because of your beliefs. And I think that’s, you know, it’s because it’s a constant argument from the other side, isn’t it you know, we’re made to feel like we’re imposing our beliefs on. That’s not what we want to do.

Michael Cousineau :
Yeah, I would love to get to a point in our culture where we have much more of a default toward if it’s human life, then it’s protected and then you have to come up with some kind of extenuating circumstance. Now, there are people that do argue that abortion meets that. And i have arguments with people about that, like, so they want to say abortion is akin to self protection. Like it’s akin to self-defense for example. But I think they’re on at least more rational grounds there and they’re at least giving the presumption that this is a human life that has moral weight just like yours and mine does. And that would be great if we could start the conversation there and then talk about whether there’s some kind of circumstance or excuse that says even though this is a valid, valuable human life with dignity, you know, we have, we’re allowed here to do something that we maybe wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
You know, there’s a psychological dimension here in the whole debate over abortion. If and i i’ve been very involved over the last year, year and a half with this Dobbs case at the Supreme Court. And one of you looking at the dissenting opinion in the, in that case, those justices in favor of keeping abortion as a constitutional right and also looking at some of the other reaction that we’ve been getting from, again, people pretty highly placed in our society. There’s a temptation to make it A1 dimensional question. But what I mean is they’ll say, well this is terrible because you’re taking away women’s rights. Ok, so we know that there are people who are thinking that way. You’re taking away women’s rights and that set for the for them that settles. And one of the things that came across in the decision was that the justices in the majority said, here’s the most striking thing about the dissenting opinion. And I would say not only about the dissenting opinion but about much of the reaction to this decision that has come from the supporters of legal abortion. And what’s that striking element? No consideration whatsoever for the existence or value of that baby. None at all. Well, like you’re saying, Pastor Michael, and I think like a lot of people realize it in our, you know, among our fellow citizens, there is a balancing to be done. And there are asserted rights of the of the of the mother and there are asserted rights of that child and we know more about that child today than we ever knew in human history. But the balancing can be a really challenging action. Philosophically, medically, legally, constitutionally how do you balance those two lives because with abortion, we have an absolutely unique circumstance. We have a person inside another person. We have a life inside. It’s the only time we have that you can make all kinds of arguments about, you know, whose life should we protect? When is self-defense OK, when is this when is that? But these are all, you know, these are none of these other circumstances are a life inside a life. And I think that’s that uniqueness of abortion makes it so difficult for so many people to resolve on all these levels. But so the temptation, as I say, psychology comes in here. It’s like, OK, if I want to make things easy in this debate, I’ll just drop one of the two out of the equation altogether. Yeah i deserve no if I just don’t acknowledge there’s even a second life there. Oh, it becomes easy. We can’t restrict women’s rights period amen settled discussion settled. And it’s just this one did this one-dimensional view of the whole thing. I think it’s just we got to tell people oh we are not so fast you we know that’s a temptation to make it the easy way out. But we’ve got a there’s a weighing and balancing to be to be done here.

Michael Cousineau :
Right and usually that weighing in my opinion takes quite a bit, as in the mother’s life has to be in danger for there to be a valid moral exception in my opinion. But i would much rather be arguing on those grounds, like you said, acknowledge that there is a living human being that has moral worth that we have to take into account.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Exactly, yeah. Otherwise they’re escaping like we said before, is avoidance of the biology you know it’s there’s nothing there but there is.

Michael Cousineau :
Right and i do, I think maybe, yeah, biology education might be a way to move, move our culture forward. It might be as simple as that. But you would have to have people who didn’t shy away from exactly what’s occurring. When you talk about biological development, I mean one of the things that’s very difficult for me as a school teacher is to see how ideologically slanted a lot of school teaching and education has become so you know, as much as I could say, oh, this would be a simple fix, like I don’t know if I fully trust the teachers that would be teaching the kids. But maybe if the curriculum was assigned and you said we would like you to talk about human development from the earliest get go all the way up, right it could be the kind of thing that would be part of a ninth grade biology class. Cuz that’s important information for just about everybody to know and including human anatomy and all of the things like that. And maybe just the raw facts of it would have some impact, even if it was coming from an ideologically biased source.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Yeah, exactly yeah the facts are this certain point at which you have to say the facts are what they are. And here’s the research. Roe Roe versus Wade by the way skipped over hundreds of years of medical knowledge. You know he they that opinion. Yeah, it’s been criticized by even supporters of legal abortion, criticized not for its conclusion but for its attempt at reasoning and when it comes to the medicine, I mean, it stops in the medieval pages, you know, if that doesn’t even take into account. What we’ve learned in the last few centuries, it’s an amazing gap when it when they’re purportedly talking about, you know, who’s in the womb or what’s in the womb. Just a just a big gap there.

Michael Cousineau :
Yeah so this would probably be a sidetrack to the current, the current way we’re going on the conversation but I did have this thought about kind of preempting some of the objections that we’ve talked about in and around this conversation with the way that we live our lives. So interesting facts about me. One is that I’ve tried to live for a very long time as a vegetarian and I actually have pro-life considerations for the for doing that. And then the other was becoming a Foster and adoptive parent, which once again is something that I did for pro-life considerations not just, but, you know, I mean, the way that I live my life is on the whole, not just to win arguments or whatever, but it I wonder if how much we as people who are part of the church could take on board these more sacrificial ways of living to kind of get around and or maybe advertise that we’re kind of doing these things. One thing that I find out a lot of times in these conversations is how little people know about how much Christians do for kids in foster care. For example. Like, there’s a huge percentage of our church membership that foster or adopt or work in Child Protective Services or work in different organizations that support mothers who are going to crisis pregnancy or kids who are in foster care because they’re born, substance exposed, or, you know, like any number of different things. Anyway, I’ll stop there, but I can give you a chance to respond.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
No, that’s that is that the power of witness you know, the teaching the Christian faith it seems to me, you know, has progressed through the world by the power of its teaching and the power of the witness and what you’re doing there is you know, it’s witnessing and you know even if we if we do things sacrificially that at the same time we say, hey, I’m not saying that everybody has to do this, that’s not that the point is not whether people have to do it. The point is look at what I’m doing and let it be a witness to the direction we need to go. It is so true that you know we’ve got it right now i don’t know if how many of our audiences is familiar but a beautiful film just came out two months ago called Life Mark and Life Mark is about David Scott and there’s a young man from Louisiana who was adopted and at a certain point wanted to wanted to meet his birth mother and it’s so the whole story of him wrestling with that their encounter and the dominant thing that comes across in this movie is you know the power of love that is lived out in adoption overcomes that the distinction between a child that I physically gave birth to versus a child I welcomed by love into my family. So beautiful life Mark, but people need to see that. You know, one of the key people that was converted to from a pro abortion position to pro-life was the founder of the abortion movement in America, Doctor Bernard Nathanson. And I knew him and he when he first changed from being an abortion promoter to a pro-life advocate, he still was not a believer. And he said what brought me across that line was the science, he said but then what brought me to faith was looking at the pro-life people. And I mean, I had already accepted their argument, but I looked at the way they live. I looked at the love that they had for these children and the sacrifices they were willing to make to save them, whether they were taking them upon into their own care by adoption, by being foster parents, by all the kinds of service they did or by sacrificing themselves. And as we were talking at the beginning of our conversation out in front of those abortion facilities and just intervene and enduring the ridicule, the persecution, the, you know, all kinds of things brought against them. But there was he said there was something there that I did not know about there was AI could see there was an hour and he said I came to realize it was the power of love and that’s what and then he said, I also came to believe because of the way the pro lifers treated me, they’ve treated me with such love and kindness and welcome. And so I think your witness and the witness of so many people who are first of all doing what we all need to be doing. And secondly going above and beyond and doing some additional things that make people think, i think we’ve got to make people scratch their heads, say, well, why is he doing that? Well, why is she living like that? How come he’s going out of his way to do that? And we make people scratch their heads and I think they’re that that’s how we’re getting them on the path to conversion. So thank you for your thank you for your witness yeah.

Michael Cousineau :
Right well, i wouldn’t want to portray it as quite as rosy of a picture cuz the movie that I haven’t seen. But from your summary, it’s rough. Being a Foster and adoptive parent is not easy around for most of the parents that I know that are trying to do that. But it does come out of the love that we have given to us by Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit but and that’s powerful that is a powerful witness like he said, even if it doesn’t automatically go well or automatically persuade, it gives us a certain kind of integrity to stand in when we say this is a human person and we care about this, but this is not right. This is how this person needs to be treated, because we’re doing it ourselves, right?

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Right i think people want to see that consistency. They want to see a consistency in US and you know sometimes they’ll they want to see it out of out of goodwill because they recognize it makes sense and other times the other side will try to use it as a as a battering ram you know how many children are you adopting you know it’s but either way, whether they’re using goodwill or bad will, it’s a it’s a consistency that and a witness that the world needs.

Michael Cousineau :
Yeah, i just I it feels like a battery room but sometimes I wonder if our doors are solid enough to take that. Because a huge percentage of the people who do foster care are Christians and do it out of a Christian witness, right? Like a really large percentage like a shocking number. And I don’t know that the public at large is aware of that. Just how much Christians really go out of their way to provide for kids in need. And really are meeting like Christians overwhelmingly are meeting the wait until there’s no kid in foster care kind of demand like it’s Christians who are adopting not just one but two or you know, fostering 17 kids, right like, I mean, that’s the kind of thing that plenty of Christians are doing.

Fr. Frank Pavone :
They are. They are absolutely.

Michael Cousineau :
I think I’m going to hold myself to one, but because one of one of the lot, it i we didn’t pick up on the vegetarian thing it’s fine it’s kind of weird, but it’s so Peter Singer, we’ve mentioned him already. He brings this argument that like, well, OK, if you care about young humans, you should care about animals just as much. And just as an exercise, I wanted to see if I could manage to pull off being vegetarian to kind of, you know, if I do think that animals have some kind of moral weight it’s not the kind of moral weight and value that humans have, but they ‘d have some so I wanted to see, OK, so could I do it? And then I realized in large part I could and I do wonder if in some of the same way that Christians could adjust our lifestyle in a sacrificial way and once again, not because we have to, but because we’re motivated out of a concern for life in the world, not just human life, but life and creation as a whole. And that would be a way to meet some people’s ideas of like, OK, so do you have the kind of integrity to tell us about abortion?

Fr. Frank Pavone :
Yes, exactly, exactly. You know as you were talking there, I, you know and the moral weight that animal certainly do have, I’m struck by and they often use it as an example when we’re talking about pro-life legislation. You know, some of the proposals that have been made and they’ve passed in a number of states are laws that would protect babies from the point where there is at least a strong scientific consensus that they can feel pain. And often in the midst of those debates, I’ve pointed out that we have, even though we slaughter cattle in order to have our beef, we have in federal law the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which is meant to a well protect these animals from pain in slaughtering them. And it’s like how could we be at the point, But we are there where we have that in place for very good reason and we think we should all be in full support of that. And yet we don’t have a similar law in place for these children in the world. Whatever people, again, whatever value people think they have, we’re not even protecting them from the pain of an abortion procedure. And I think it is one of the things that makes people think twice. And also you reminded me of, you know, one of our newest groups in the pro-life movement is called Pal PAAU it’s the progressive anti abortion uprising. And I know all of the people who are involved, the founders and the leaders. And here we have people who are identifying themselves as progressives. Many of them are atheists politically they’re Democrats. Some of them are vegetarians. And for the very reasons that you were just explaining. And these are people who a lot of our opponents in this battle would not expect to find in the pro-life movement. And yet they are making some, you know, very consistent arguments and some very good witness.

Michael Cousineau :
Yeah, I mean, it’s been helpful to me i’m by the way, I’m not currently living as a vegetarian but that what I found is that it it’s it was it was doable. And I’m not suggesting that everybody can do it, just like I’m not suggesting every single person could be a foster parent. But I do think it would be useful for people to take those two things seriously as people who are pro-life who are interested in creating a culture of life, who are interested in pushing forward a more moral way of living just across the board. Our sponsor for this episode is irapture.com that’s IRAP as in Paul T as in tomure.com Irp.com provides intelligent, mission minded marketing for pregnancyclinicsirp.com helps pregnancy clinics reach clients at risk of choosing abortion through content marketing. For help reaching your audience, contact irapture.com Supporting our sponsorslikeirs.com supports the Pro-life Team Podcast.

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