Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

A Pro-Abort under Cover: Haunted by Truth

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 20, 2013

Someone sent me a link to Caitlin Bancroft’s August 15th blog entry in The Huffington Post online. Bancroft, who is a law student and a legal intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, has apparently gone under cover to some pro-life crisis pregnancy centers—turning the tables, so to speak.

But we learn more about the undercover agent than about the pregnancy centers. Her descriptions of what she encountered are not so much based on what really happened as on her assumptions going in. All of her observations are predicated on a preconceived idea that “crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are the foot soldiers in the war against women,” which leaves no room for a favorable response to her experience. This is not a good sign in a law student. Cases in point:

  • “Once inside, women are treated to a carefully crafted program of manipulation designed to dissuade them from choosing abortion, birth control, and if they’re not married—sex.” But don’t these purposes closely correlate with helping women avoid crisis pregnancies? And at what point does the presentation of information become “manipulation”?
  • “In case the test was positive my ‘counselor’ wanted to know which tactic to use to persuade me to continue the pregnancy—exactly where my resolve was the weakest. Was there a loving Christian boyfriend who would make a great dad? Did I have kind supportive parents who would be excited by the idea of a grandchild?” Are such things irrelevant to making a serious decision about pregnancy?
  • “I knew I wasn't pregnant—knew exactly what she was doing—knew she wasn't a doctor. But my body reacted instinctively to her questions with guilt and shame. It felt like a kick in the gut when she asked if I had told my brother about the baby, and I felt a creeping sense of selfishness.... Would my parents want me to have this child? Would it matter?” Where did these feelings come from in someone who was simply pretending to be pregnant? Could they have been a response to deeper truths Bancroft was doing her best to ignore?
  • “The woman stopped between questions to comment on my answers and lie. ‘Oh, you've taken birth control. Let me tell you how that causes cancer and is the same a[s] medication [for] abortion.’ I was told abortion would scar me for the rest of my life—would damage all of my future relationships and leave me ‘haunted.’ ...She lectured and lied to me for over an hour before I even received the results of my pregnancy test.” But every statement of medical fact Bancroft cites is accurate, and the psychological consequences of abortion are well-documented to be extremely common.
  • “One of the most disturbing comments came when...I told her an all too common story of acquaintance rape. I had been at a party, I said, severely intoxicated and unable to consent, ‘I didn't remember anything... I just wished it hadn't happened.’ Her response made it clear that the situation was my fault, ‘Oh so he took advantage of you. Well just don’t do it again sweetie; just don’t do it again.’ It made me sick.” In other words, it was sickening to Bancroft that the counselor took her at her word and, instead of condemning her behavior in the past—which Bancroft stated she wished had not happened—the counselor simply encouraged her to avoid the same behavior in the future—so that the same result could be avoided.

This goes on and on. The counselor’s advice to Bancroft could be sickening only if Bancroft actually positively values the behavior she claimed to regret. Moreover, her reactions of shame at being asked to think about dimensions of sexuality beyond the pleasure of the moment actually reveal far more about Bancroft’s own human nature than about the tactics of the counselor. It is striking that a reasonably intelligent young woman—and a law student at that—is so lacking in self-reflection that she exhibits throughout what any psychologist would recognize as both denial and projection—subconscious (one hopes) denial of the reality she wishes selfishly to escape, and projection of her own quite natural guilt onto the counselors and the crisis pregnancy centers.

The lesson here is that it is extremely difficult to see the obvious when we are enslaved to vice, whether behavioral (such as attachment to various pleasures) or intellectual (such as denial of God). Sin really does darken the intellect, and those who are immersed in it consistently make the most elementary errors of reason, most commonly by simply assuming whatever it is they wish to prove.

But precisely because our intellects are darkened by sin, it takes more than mere argument to open our minds. It is one of the more important achievements of Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), to explain how faith in and love of God open the mind to truth. The bulk of this explanation occurs in Chapter Two, which is tellingly entitled “Unless you believe, you will not understand,” a statement taken from the prophet Isaiah.

The fastest way to be opened to truth is through our acceptance of the self-disclosure of God, whose Being is the very ground of truth, and whose creation, dispositions and plans can be read rightly only in light of Himself. Perhaps this is why those most vehement in their rejection of the true, and even in their rejection of the obvious, are so often on the verge of this response, on the verge of an opening of the self to God, in whom we begin at last to see things whole.

Caitlin Bancroft may well be standing on the very precipice of truth, facing the wrong way only out of fear. If this is so, I do not recommend argument, which is felt too often as a violent backward thrust. I recommend asking Our Lord to call her ever more insistently by name, that she may turn again and see—what?—the One Who alone has plumbed the abyss and filled it with love.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Dennis Olden - Sep. 02, 2016 6:46 PM ET USA

    Cogent and helpful.

  • Posted by: littleone - Aug. 21, 2013 12:35 AM ET USA

    I very much appreciate your article, here. Yet, I do think we may want to look at the tactics that relatively untrained pregnancy "counselors" use; if her blog is at all accurate,there were apparently things said that no licensed professionally trained counselor would say in the manner that things were apparently said to his sadly blinded young woman.If we Catholics would step up to the plate and fully finance these centers,it is likely more licensed professionals would be able to work in them.

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Aug. 20, 2013 10:11 PM ET USA

    Crucial question: why is it bad to talk women out of an abortion? Does the Huffington Post article address that?

  • Posted by: rosemariedoyle9560 - Aug. 20, 2013 3:26 PM ET USA

    A great analysis and, yes, I took your perfect advice to pray for her to encounter the Light of the World. Thanks!

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Aug. 20, 2013 1:30 PM ET USA

    Imagine the cheek of these pro-lifers, living by what they believe,and having the gall to suggest that a young woman not get so intoxicated that she loses all judgment. Blind is not the half of it.