Why the Economy is a Pro-Life Issue

Consistent life ethic proponents have long argued that the pro-life movement must view a wide variety of issues within the pro-life filter; that is, it can be a pro-life vote to help the poor and working class just as it can be a pro-life vote to overturn Roe v. Wade (although it is not necessarily given the same weight).

An example of this is Planned Parenthood’s recent expansion in Michigan.  The nation’s largest abortion business will add another clinic in the state, this time in Oakland County, within the next two years.  This clinic will offer a range of abortion services.  What’s curious is the rational for opening a new clinic in one of the worst economies in years.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve been getting calls that go, ‘I’m pregnant, we don’t have health insurance, my husband isn’t working and we can’t afford another child.’ These calls have become routine for us,” says Lori Lamerand, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan.

The top two reasons women have an abortion are (1) lifestyle changes and (2) inability to afford more children; these two reasons make up 3/4th of the abortions performed in this country every year.  Even the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute recognizes that the biggest increase in abortions is among women below the federal poverty level.

Unfortunately, women with no other place to turn and who don’t understand the value of their unborn child turn to the one place where they know they can get help – the flashy clinic down the street that has the funds to advertise in the local paper and offers caring and confidential help.  It is important to continue to work legislatively to overturn Roe v. Wade, but until that happens pro-lifers need to address the underlying causes of abortion as well.  And that includes making sure the poor know they have a choice.

31 Responses to Why the Economy is a Pro-Life Issue

  1. Mr. Smith,

    First off, welcome to The American Catholic.

    I’m wondering if I can inquire a bit about how you would say that we should look at the economy in terms the effect it has on life issues.

    Clearly, various sorts of economic and personal difficulties are among the most cited reasons for abortions. That Michigan is currently one of the most depressed states in the union thus makes it unsurprising that abortion demand would be increasing there. I recall one of the more macabre after-effects of 9/11 was when Planned Parenthood announced they were going to send some “emergency” units to New York to provide abortions to anyone who felt the disaster had changed their plans as to whether to have a child.

    I guess what I’m less clear on is in what sense we should, in the political sphere, respond as Catholics to the point that “the economy is a pro-life issue”. After all, improving the economy is not exactly controversial. Everyone is in favor of improving the economy. What there are vast disagreements on is on what policies will improve the economy. For instance, some think that giving GM and Chrysler loans and grants will help the Michigan economy; others thing that installing “right to work” laws would help; and yet others think it would help most to allow the companies to go bankrupt and be sold off, so that more financially stable companies would move in to replace them.

    Now, one could narrow the focus and say that this means that we should seek to directly help those who are suffering from the down economy — but as Christians we’re called to do that anyway, whether those who are unemployed are likely to seek abortions or not.

    Is the consistent ethic of life point simply a reminder that all aspects of life are interconnected, or is there some more prescriptive and pragmatic aspect?

  2. Mr. Smith says:

    It goes back to a favorite slogan of mine: “No choice is not pro-choice”

    The point is that economics is a useful tool in the fight against abortion. In my opinion, too often the pro-life movement gets bogged down in the legislative process – it’s repealing Roe or bust. While this may be a good long term strategy, it doesn’t actually reduce the abortion rate this instant.

    What can help reduce the number of abortions is legislative action that addresses the underlying economics of abortion. For example, Democrats for Life’s Pregnant Women Support Act bill (some of which was included in the health care bill) addresses the concerns raised in this post: prevention of domestic violence (a huge cause of abortion), fund “safe havens” and maternity group homes, and require SCHIP to cover pregnant women.

    Will these type of things end all abortion? No. Will they save lives? Yes. I think the Michigan example is a reminder that all women who have an abortion aren’t feminists; most simply have no clue what else to do.

  3. Please tell me your first name is Jefferson and you’re planning to go to Washington 😉

    If I could stick my foot into dangerous waters of economic theory, I might suggest one answer to Darwin’s question comes in the form of what we mean when we improve the economy. An economy that is vibrant such that it better allows for families to prosper (as opposed to driven individuals) is going to be the goal of a pro-lifer whereas that might not necessarily be the goal for the average capitalist.

  4. John Henry says:

    I think the point is that economic circumstances of individuals (rather than the economy, per se) has a significant effect on individual choices vis-a-vis abortion. And, of course, the overall state of the economy has a significant effect on the economic circumstances of individuals.

    I am not sure how accurate that suggestion is; Darwin did a post on the abortion rate and the poverty rate a while back that I think suggests this (intuitively appealing) theory is not borne out very well by the data. In any case, I don’t have an objection to policies aimed at helping women in these types of situations, even if the promised reduction in the abortion rate does not materialize.

  5. RR says:

    The economy doesn’t seem to affect the abortion rate. More targeted economic incentives might help. Pro-lifers should protest the ObamaCare marriage penalty.

  6. Joe Hargrave says:

    Here’s a thought: 2/3 of women who get abortions are not married.

    The destruction of the family and the destruction of innocent human life go hand in hand.

    I also question the “affordability” criteria. What does this really mean? Does it mean that a woman or the parents literally do not have the income to support another child – or that having another child would put a strain on their income that they would rather avoid?

    You see this is a very subjective and shifting criteria. There are poor people who have many children – such as immigrants, whether they are Mexicans in America or Muslims in Europe. The children have to make do with a little less but there are many other benefits involved in having a large family as the children get older.

    So when someone says they can’t “afford” another child, what it usually means is “another child would reduce our standard of living.” And if someone wants to make the argument that abortion is a legitimate means for preserving a middle class lifestyle, let them make that argument.

    But don’t tell me that you can’t “afford” it.

    On another note, I used to be a big fan of the Democrats “95/10” initative, and I am still a fan of many of the items on the list. One thing I don’t believe in, though, is the subsidizing of the single-parent lifestyle, the “post-modern” family. If you want tax incentives for normal families consisting of a married man and woman, that I support. The state should support and promote the institution of marriage between a man and a woman in as many ways as possible and affordable. It should be a high social priority at this point.

    In doing so, it would drastically reduce the number of abortions.

  7. RL says:

    Thank you Joe. Absolutely.

  8. Eric Brown says:

    Good points Joe.

  9. Elaine Krewer says:

    “all women who have an abortion aren’t feminists; most simply have no clue what else to do”

    That makes sense to me. Years ago I heard a talk by post-abortion researcher David Reardon at a pro-life event. One point he made – something that I think is easily overlooked — was that most women who have had abortions wish someone had ACTIVELY given them an alternative or talked them out of it because they may not know what to do, especially if they are alone with an absent or unsupportive partner/father.

    Too often, if they tell anyone about their situation, they hear one or both of two things: “You can’t have a baby right now, it will ruin your life,” or “It’s your choice and I will support you whatever you decide.” While the latter statement may sound compassionate, to the woman it sounds more like “I don’t care whether you get an abortion or not, so you might as well get one.” Kind of like telling a depressed person who is contemplating suicide “I’ll support you whatever you decide because it’s your choice.”

  10. Marsh Fightlin says:

    Why isn’t anyone mentioning adoption? A single woman who becomes pregnant in financially difficult circumstances can give birth to the child and place it with an adoption agency. This has the effect of strengthening the two-parent intact family and discouraging the single-parent model. It also doesn’t have to wait for a booming economy. Just some good prenatal care and other assistance during the pregnancy such as Catholic Charities routinely provides.

  11. Here in Michigan, where this new PP abortion mill is slated to open, pregnant women can receive medical coverage through MI-Child, which will (go figure) also cover children after birth. I think (but am not certain) that it continues to cover the mother for a period of time after delivery (perhaps while breastfeeding, but I’m fairly sure at least up to the 6-week checkup).

    I looked into it when I lost my job last April, and my wife was 6 months along, but chose to get private insurance so as to keep our current doctor.

    My pastor founded a home for expectant mothers (up to 4 at a time), but it’s still a work in progress (I might be out there on Saturday helping with handyman stuff). In Oakland County.

    Options are out there, but not known well. I once heard a nurse who dealt a lot with billing/insurance that many of the “uninsured” are eligible for existing government programs, but are just unaware that the programs even exist.

  12. Jay Anderson says:

    I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying the notion that if only the government were doing more to alleviate the economic “need” for abortion, the number of abortions would fall.

    As has been noted, Darwin did an excellent analysis a couple of years back that calls the premise into question. And, as Matthew points out above, the Michigan government is already doing a good bit to help expectant mothers and mothers with young children, yet the alleged “need” for abortion apparently continues unabated, with PP now opening up its new abortion mill near Detroit.

    Yet, the meme persists that government must grow larger for the number of abortions to grow smaller. And I have the feeling that the proponents of this view would be pushing for more activist government anyway, regardless of the effect on abortion. So, hey, why not claim moral high ground by arguing that activist government is “pro-life” and make completely unsubstantiated claims that policies having absolutely nothing to do with abortion will nevertheless reduce the so-called “need” for abortion?

    Granted, it’s a neat trick and I give credit to the Catholic left for pushing that line consistently and hard in 2008 and, with the help of people like Doug Kmiec and Nick Cafardi, convincing enough Catholics that Obama was just as “pro-life” (if not moreso) than McCain because his policies would, allegedly, reduce the so-called “need” for abortion.

  13. Jay Anderson says:

    I want to clarify that my remarks above are not directed to anyone posting here, Mr. Smith, in particular.

    Rather, my comment is addressed specifically to some of the specious arguments made in 2008 by the likes of Doug Kmiec and others, which took the reasonable position espoused here by Mr. Smith and twisted it into a tenuous argument about what it means to vote “pro-life”.

  14. Mr. Smith says:

    Wow so much to respond to:

    Jay – solid points. I would argue big government is not pro-life necessarily but helping women make informed choices is, whether through consent/sonogram laws or tax credits toward prenatal health. What the pro-life movement needs to do is look at a variety of ways to stop abortion, short term and long term, within the current political climate. After all, our goal is saving lives.

    Marsh – You make a great point; options are discussed often enough. We always see Planned Parenthood ads, but how does the pregnant low income mother find out about a crisis pregnancy center?

    Joe – I agree the two-family system is best. But in 2010 America, this is trending from the norm. Yes we should change that, but we also must adjust to what is around us.

    Also, most affluent or upper class women who make the “unaffordability” argument are more likely to take effective birth control or morning-after. Even the pro-choicer Guttmacher Institute agrees – it’s the poor who have no financial choice and turn to the one place they know of to help – the abortion clinic.

  15. Zach says:

    The economy is “a pro-life issue” in the sense that all things relating to the common good are “pro-life issues”. The true pro-life issue is the legality of elective abortion and the culture that tolerates and in many cases applauds it. One does not change the culture by changing the economy – especially an economy that would encourage dependency on a welfare state.

    I also think it’s naive to think the federal government of the United States could administer an economic program in a putatively free market environment to a nation of 300 million + people and maintain any measure of efficiency. The government barely maintains simple things like roads, nevermind “economic programs” that would need to be tailored to the individual circumstances of each mother and child to make it in any way practical.

    Instead of advocating for the government to do these impractical things, we should spend our time advocating for and supporting charities that serve poor pregnant women (to those of you who already do this work, AMEN). Charities make real differences in the lives of people because they are personal, operate locally, and run by individuals devoted to service. In addition to this, we should support efforts like 40 Days for Life, a group that changes the lives of people forever.

    Our government cannot make us a pro-life culture with the right economic policies. Abortion isn’t going to go away, even if we totally eliminate poverty. We need to change the culture – each one of us.

  16. Joe Hargrave says:


    To be clear, I think the extended, multi-generational family is best. I think Catholics should rediscover it.

    In fact, I think Catholics should experiment with communal living. We need it now more than ever, especially considering what goes on in the schools and on the streets.

    Solidarity among Catholics would at least reduce OUR abortion numbers to zero. All of the excuses would be gone, because a social support network would exist to care for all new children, not to mention to prevent the promiscuity that leads to excess children in the first place.

    We should, in other words, learn from the early Christians. People think I’ve become some sort of individualist just because I want the federal gov’t off our backs. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think Christians should live communally on a voluntary basis, and that good Christians need restore a good name to a way of life degraded by hippies, perverts, cultists and other misbegotten freaks of the sexual revolution.

    I think the “nuclear family” is actually responsible for a lot of the problems we have today. I see it as a a decayed form of the traditional family, not a stable form in its own right. We now have the sub-atomic family as a result.

  17. Moe says:

    But what about the Executive Order? I thought Stupak said that there would be no federal dollars provided for abortion and that he had that in writing. How come another butcher shop is being opened up? Also, statistics reflect that 83% of all abortions are performed on unmarried women. Granted, I don’t have statistics for the last several years, but adjusting that percentage downwards a tad and with all due respect to Mr. Smith, that figure belies his assertion that families in economic crises are resorting to abortion.

  18. Eric Brown says:

    I fundamentally agree with Joe that the degradation of the “domestic church”—the family—is at the heart of the abortion crisis. It would be false to reduce human activity to deterministic causality based solely one economic factors. To be clear, I do not think anyone who has said anything thus far has taken such a position. Our Catholic faith illuminates that abortion arises from Original Sin not merely from socio-economic factors.

    However I would be a terrible pro-life Democrat (I’d say) if I did not make what I think are a few necessary points. In a basic sense, the economy is a pro-life issue. There are a number of people who believe that government intervention, particularly, through social programs will decrease the abortion rate because women encouraged to carry their pregnancy to term through love and support will opt to do so—because all that is missing is love. There is something basically true about the latter point—there is a lot of love and support missing—but I think the argument is, more or less, blown out of proportion.

    The problems I see, at least as far as the issue of abortion is concerned, are backward economic incentives that need to be corrected.

    (1) Women are more likely to have higher out-of-pocket health care expenses than men and use more health care services than men. Through mechanisms such mechanism as pre-existing conditions, which also treated pregnancy as disease, women are in operation though not necessarily purposely discriminated against by the setup of our medical system. Surely no situation or predicament can justify an abortion. But for some women, not operating by natural law moral standards, often can find themselves in desperate situations where medical bills, other finances, absence from work, and the perception (or reality) of being alone and unable to manage the situation with courage and tenacity leads them to abortion clinics. If we turn this incentive around through proper repairs to our medical system (which is a subject of debate) and we will save more lives.

    (2) The cost of having a baby itself raises the inevitable question of just how those without health insurance could actually give birth without incurring financial ruin. A pregnant woman lacking health coverage can anticipate a hospital bill ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 with an additional $2,000 if C-section is required. These figures, obviously, do not include costs associated with prenatal visits (if any), ultrasounds (though these can obtained for free), and various other costs. If a baby is born prematureor with health problems, neonatal costs can range from a few thousand for a short stay to six figures if a child is born significantly early. Much of this is largely economic questions and of course, will be subject to debate. But given the current reality, many people can easily leave a hospital with years of payment ahead of them for a single child (if they do not simply pass the buck off to the rest of society in cost-shifting, which further drives up costs) and this reality alone very well may feed the contraceptive mentality (the less children, the better) and indirectly abortion. This doesn’t seem to be a stretch of the imagination seeing that it occurs in the context of a consumerist, materialist, utilitarian pragmatist instant-gratification culture. The cost of raising the child, generally speaking, in a variety of areas—health care, child care (which is grossly and almost outrageously costly), and other necessities can be incredible. Even if one were to cut corners by borrowing old cribs, clothes, receiving donations, etc., the end costs are still quite high.

    (3) Maternity leave laws are not perfect (in terms of job and/or financial security) nor are they broadly supported. Given the large makeup of single mothers in society this is a matter to be considered. True, it is undesirable in itself and every effort should put forth to restore the prominence of family and not cement single parenthood as a permanent reality through social policies by incentivizing it, it is the current reality and the norms of justice and the common good have to be met despite these realities as we seek to transform them simultaneously. In the practical sense, back to maternal leave laws, a doctor will recommend that a new mother stay home for at least six weeks after birth; most licensed childcare facilities will not accept babies until they are at least three months of age. The most pertinent issue is how, given modern circumstances, how a woman might finance her pregnancy, her home, her child, and put food on the table while on maternity leave. The obvious answer goes back to Joe’s most basic assertion—the vital need for strong families which naturally provide a first and principal safety net. But in the short-term there bust be constructive measures to promote motherhood as much as possible without condoning or again cementing single parenthood into an irreversible cultural norm.

    (4) I think I have said this before, but there may be an unseen incentive (and perhaps not even a conscious one) given our current employer-based health insurance model to support the culture of death. By the most conservative estimates, some 40% of private insurance plans cover abortions with the most liberal estimates being somewhere in the 80s. Employers, since health benefits are part of the budget, might decide to buy insurance policies that include contraception and elective abortions (and this is just a suggestion; I am not sure it is true) because in terms of accounting, it is cheaper to cover birth control and abortions than it is to cover the costs associated with pregnancy in addition to the already well-expected maternal leave, which, again costs money or stretches work due to a missing worker. I am not how much this is actually true but it may be a reality. If an employer has more women of child-bearing age than men, the arithmetic becomes quite significant and any embedded incentives might not necessarily favor the sanctity of life.

    So while I am weary of arguments about social programs are required or absolutely necessary to stop abortion and to “support” women thereby replacing families, moral virtue, and other necessary realities to build a true culture of life, it does seem obvious to me that there are some obvious (and no one has denied this thus far) economic problems. If we are looking at the economy as more than the exchange of goods but in a broad sense of the economy of human activity and social structuring, it is apparent that many deep-seated economic incentives in the social order are oriented against motherhood, family, and human life and that is why the economy in a basic sense is a pro-life issue.

    And we may scream “adoption” until our faces are blue–the adoption serious is in need of serious repair.

  19. Elaine Krewer says:

    I agree with several other posters that a LOT more needs to be done to promote adoption as well.

    Too many people have an outdated or stereotypical view of adoption based on news reports of tragic adoption cases or on Lifetime/Movie of the Week type shows about adoptees searching for their birth parents — they think it means you surrender your child at the moment of birth, never see or hear from them again, and spend the rest of your life wondering whether they are happy or if they fell into the hands of some psycho child abuser. For this reason many young women think adoption is no better than abortion in terms of its effect on THEIR lives.

    However, most domestic adoptions these days are “open” — the birth mother gets to meet the prospective parents and both sides can communicate with one another at a mutually agreeable level. For example, the adoptive parents can be present at the birth, the birth mother may receive photographs, letters, e-mails, etc. at designated intervals to show her how her child is progressing, and in some cases the birth mother may even be permitted to visit the child. If more women were aware of this it would eliminate a lot of the resistance they may show to considering adoption.

  20. Zach says:


    I’d agree there’s a lot of love and support missing everywhere in the world, but I’m curious how you can think the government will be able to fill this void. When we give the government these responsibilities (love and support), the family is left to deteriorate and what bonds are left between people grow even weaker. Love and support becomes someone else’s job, someone’s career. Is this what we want?

    And I’m not sure how, exactly, it is “apparent that many deep-seated economic incentives in the social order are oriented against motherhood, family, and human life?” What are these “economic incentives”, and how are they tied particularly to the market economy? I understand if you take the term economy in a broad sense, but in the technical sense as it applies to politics, it no longer means much.

    I mean, we cannot make the cost of motherhood go away – the health care we enjoy is expensive, in demand, and requires the hard work of a lot of people, and they have to be well compensated lest they go somewhere else where they will be.

    And I think any serious analysis has to provide alternatives to the way things are currently done. Can you point to a country that takes better care of more families than the United States? Can you point to a country that has policies that resemble those you are thinking of? If you had to pick one, what would it be?

  21. Mike Petrik says:

    I suspect that Eric is confusing social incentives with economic incentives. A market economy does not disfavor motherhood, family, and human life. At worst it is simply neutral. A market economy simply allows people to make choices, and while choices are subject to pressures these forces are primarily social. The breakdown of the American family over the past 50 years simply cannot be landed at the doorstep of the economy.

  22. Eric Brown says:


    Actually I said the government cannot itself feel that void and those who make the argument often blow it out of proportion.


    I was using the term “economy” in a much broader sense. But yes, in your way of putting it, social incentives due to how we have structured our ways of living and organization as a body politic create an environment where economic actors are oriented, for various reasons, some conscious, others not so, against motherhood, family, and human life.

    I was using the term “economy” in the same way, you’d say the “economy of salvation.” So, quite obviously, I wasn’t concerned particularly with a market economy.

    On your last point — I think industrialization, the rise of technology, and the manner it has imprinted itself on and influenced human psychology and behavior I think has much to do with the breakdown of the family. Is it the cause? I’d say no. But I do not think the economy is neutral in this regard.

  23. Zach says:

    Sorry Eric, it appears I was quite confused.

  24. Joe Hargrave says:

    Yes, I don’t blame the market in-itself; but modern technology plays a HUGE role in the break-up of the family and has since the 19th century.

    This is where I can’t agree with the revisionist, triumphalist history of capitalism offered by Mises and his modern acolytes. Not only is it rejected, and rightfully so, by the entire history of Papal commentary on capitalism – which was seen as a system in need moral guidance from outside – it ignores too many facts.

    Mises was an atheist and a materialist. He saw no timeless value in beautiful works of art, he had no conception of objective value and worth. He was the extreme; his subjective theory of value, I believe, he projected onto all things. I don’t think he or Rothbard and certainly Ayn Rand had any use for the family as an institution. Maybe they didn’t oppose it and want to actively destroy it as did the communists, but they were indifferent to its fate.

    There is a reason for this. The increased productivity of each individual through industrial technology lessens their dependence upon other people and institutions.

    Before the industrial revolution, the foundation of society was the extended, multi-generational family. Several lived in a town or village. There were some urban centers of trade, learning and the arts but the basic model held good. Outside of this of course were religious and military orders. What charity and social services these institutions could not provide was provided by the Church, especially in times of war, famine, disease, etc.

    Post-industrial revolution, we have seen the extended family whittled down to the nuclear family, which has now decomposed into the “post-modern” or “sub-atomic” family as I call it. Single parents, divorced parents, no parents, and even gay parents. Especially when times are good economically, everyone craves independence from other people and institutions.

    We are not gnostics to deny the relation between the material and spiritual elements of our lives. If the material community disintegrates, so does the spiritual community. Unfortunately the socialists and communists of the 19-21st centuries have been materialists; they can only work to restore the material community, and, denying God and the human spirit, do not recognize the inalienable rights and freedoms of man.

    Meanwhile conservatives often believe they can restore the spiritual community by any other means than restoring the material community, and this too is flawed. There is a reason the early Christians lived as they did. Now you’ll say, “that was primitive communism.” Yes it was. And we obviously don’t have to live at that technological level; all of the Papal encyclicals are about reconciling Christian morals and duties with the realities of industrial society and they wouldn’t bother with it if it were impossible.

    They exhort us to distributism, or lets just say, to more broadly share and use in common the means of production, voluntarily, in charity and brotherhood. The material community does have to be repaired, but only simultaneously with the spiritual community, and only subordinated to spiritual ends, to the true teaching of the Church, and not to liberal or progressive interpretations of her teachings.

    No Christian can fully accept the teachings of a Mises, Rothbard, or Rand anymore than they could fully accept those of Karl Marx. Individualist materialism is not genocidal like collectivist materialism but it does lead society to ruin all the same.

  25. Eric Brown says:

    Good points, Joe.

  26. Mike Petrik says:

    It has been many years since I read Mises’ magnum opus “Human Action,” but I have to say that I do not recall anything that would allow me to reach some of the conclusions about him that Joe does. Perhaps Joe has read him more recently or has a better memory. Mostly I recall him as an anti-status, and have no reason to believe that he would find distributism as Joe describes as objectionable at all, since it is voluntary. Indeed, I don’t recall reading anything that suggest he might not even favor it. Also, I doubt that Mises objected to the idea of objective value in the way Joe means it; he would instead object to the idea that the government can successully determine and enforce such values without horrible social costs.

  27. Mike Petrik says:

    meant anti-statist.

  28. Joe Hargrave says:


    Mises devotes a whole chapter in his book about the “anti-capitalist mentality” to what amounts to, in my view, cultural and social relativism, a rejection of the timeless and intrinsic beauty of the highest forms of art. He does so in order to counter the claim that capitalism degrades culture. He didn’t have to go as far as he did to defend capitalism from the charge; that he did says a lot about his worldview, in my opinion.

    I didn’t say Mises would object to distributism. In fact I think a lot of Austrians are more open to it than a lot of distributists realize.

    Ayn Rand is another story. And I mentioned Rothbard too. I don’t think either of them would have a good reason to oppose distributism either, but they do oppose religion, and especially Catholicism. They are all pro-abortion, they all oppose the idea of a spiritual community; they are spiritual and material anarchists, if they aren’t materialists who disavow the spiritual altogether.

    This is completely incompatible with the Catholic Church, which is the Body of Christ, a spiritual community.

    As for the family, I stand by my earlier point; that the Mises view of capitalism completely ignores the effect of industrial capital’s actual history (quite apart from the Austrian methodology) on the family, and fails to understand that socialist politics and the disintegration of the family are both symptoms of a common problem, and don’t necessarily have a causal relationship (though communists do want to destroy the family, they are simply carrying out what begins under capitalism to a logical conclusion).

    And if we look at the pro-abortion Rand or Rothbard, we can’t conclude they are “for” the family if they are for abortion; abortion prevents families from forming and destroys families that already exist.

    Abortion is among the most destructive anti-family forces in society, and it gains an equal amount of support from both individualist and collectivist materialists for that reason. Thus no one who supports abortion is pro-family. I’m not sure what Mises position on abortion was.

  29. Mike Petrik says:

    Joe, I agree entirely on Rand, who I view as a second rate thinker not it the same league as Mises.

    Frankly, don’t know enought about Rothbard, though I don’t think that his pro-abort views, while vile, are especially relevant. I know quite a few dogmatic libertatians as pro-life.

    Finally, I don’t have the time or fortitude to debate you on the matter, but I do not think that the disintigration of the family can accurately be laid at the doorstep of free market capitalism, industrial or otherwise, unless one want to simply blame it on the prosperity that it caused. I don’t think that thesis ultimately holds either, but one can at least make a case for it.

  30. Joe Hargrave says:


    Rothbard’s views aren’t relevant to what? He’s a major thinker of the Austrian school, a major figure in capitalist thought. His materialism, atheism, and pro-abortion stance is relevant.

    “one can at least make a case for it”

    I thought I did. And let me be clear again: I don’t blame “free market capitalism”; I blame materialism. Nothing about “free markets” mandates philosophical materialism. Nothing about capitalism mandates philosophical materialism.

    What philosophical materialism is about, whether one is an individualist and a capitalist or a collectivist and a communist, is about a total rejection of God, a total rejection of divine authority, raising homo sapiens to be the highest and final standard and judge of what is right and wrong.

    Catholic social teaching absolutely rejects materialism, whether it is paired with communism or capitalism. This is what JP II meant by “radical capitalist ideology.” So one has to be careful not to cross the line from methodological materialism, which is useful in science, to philosophical materialism, which is a rebellion against God, against the human spirit, and against objective truth.

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