Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Separating the chaff from the grain


Some people get it, others don't as evidenced by this collection of commentaries in the Washington Post

  • Randall Balmer, an Episcopal priest (which gives me no high hopes for what he has to say), entitles his piece, "Time to Untangle Moral from Legal" (which again gives me no high hopes for what he has to say). Fairly early on he says, "I have no interest in making abortion illegal; I would like to make it unthinkable." But he totally ignores the fact that giving it legal sanction and protection doesn't do much to discourage the practice. He then goes into what they much teach in Sunday School at Episcopalian churches, because it seems if you stick a nickle in an Episcopalian, he'll say it: "I am decidedly pro-choice. I believe that the government should have no jurisdiction whatsoever over gestation."

    Well, no. Gestation is a biological process, like puberty or old age. The government can't have jurisdiction over it. What it can have jurisdiction over is whether or not going through a particular biological process means that suddenly it's okay for you to kill people.

    I won't even dignify the rest of what he says by responding to it. It's just Planned Parenthood talking points.

  • Susan K. Smith (How fitting that somebody defending abortion has the same name, Susan Smith, as a woman whose claim to fame is killing her own children!) entitles her piece, "The Government Should Leave Women Alone." The title itself sets my teeth on edge. Translation: "We should abandon women to the crushing despair that puts them on the abortion table." Nothing new here.

  • Chuck Colson, not surprisingly, responds succinctly with "A Clear Moral Choice."

  • William Tully chimes in with "Nuanced and Morally Serious", which is Leftspeak for "Throw Out A Bunch Of Vague Foggy Philosophical-Sounding Stuff To Obfuscate the Inherent Evil of the Topic in Question." He starts out by citing the falling abortion rate, then follows up his data with the almost laughable absurd statement, "Most of my co-religionists see the freedom both to choose and to discuss the stark realities of abortion as a real contribution to this decline." Well, Mr. Tully, if by "my co-religionists" you mean "people who worship abortion" them maybe you have a point. And he follows with, "Most thoughtful people would not want a society where the civil right of women to choose--which my own church holds sacred--builds a society with wanton disregard for the value of human life." Thus he's admitting that yes, by "my co-religionists" he does mean people who hold abortion sacred. But if you mean "people who adhere to a faith in a God", then it's absurd to claim that we agree with you that the license to kill somehow reduced the incidence of killing.

    This paragraph boggles the mind: "The Episcopal Church, within whose traditions I minister, has a nuanced position that I gratefully see as morally serious. We believe in a woman's--and a couple's--right to choose. We also believe that when abortion is chosen, it should come only after thought, prayer and specific counseling. And, in a first where Episcopalian sacramental practice is customarily diverse and individual, confession and absolution, with appropriate penance, is counseled after an abortion. Over the years, that recommendation has had powerful and redeeming effect. I count my own involvement in such a process to be among the most powerful of my ministry."

    First of all, anybody who starts to speak of "a nuanced position" on abortion means "We're in favor of it but only after we dress it up in a lot of highfalutin words." And what kind of morally and theologically screwball ideology does it take to endorse something that people are going to have to do penance afterward? It's this sort of bad theology that had Luther nailing things to the door.

  • Matt Maher starts with a title that could swing either way: "Basic Human Rights Not A Political Issue". You have to read it to find out if the right to have a life or the right to destroy a life is the "basic human right". He's speaking for the former, but adds nothing really clear on the matter.

  • R. Albert Mohler, Jr., posts "The Horrible Legacy of 'Roe v. Wade'". He cuts to the chase and doesn't bring in any tangential issues.

  • Susan Brooks Thistelwaite uses an abortion-lobby slogan for her title, "A Woman's Life is Human Life". I just want to bitch-slap every abortion fanatic who spouts that one. Why aren't these women's lives human lives? Come back when you learn to give a shit about real women suffering and dying right now, Ms. Thistelwait, and we'll talk.

  • Willis E. Elliott says, "Abortion: Single-Issue Voting is Immoral". To which I'd say, "Okay, so Hitler wants to kill the disabled, the Jews, and the Gypsies. He has a great plan for a transportation infrastructure!" This guy ads nothing new, but spouts some hoary old NARAL talking points.

  • John Shelby Spong calls his piece, "Religious Ideology or Rule of Law?" You know where he's going with this. He paints abortion as a beloved right that women are loath to part with. Evidently he's never met any of the women at Silent No More, Feminists for Life, Operation Outcry, or Concerned Women for America. There are plenty of women who see abortion as a "Sophie's Choice" scenario in which we're treated like second-class citizens and told that if we want to fully participate, we have to sacrifice our children. Women who love their babies don't embrace killing them as a right. Mr. Spong might do well to remember that before he slanders us.

  • Gardner Calvin Taylor goes right where you'd expect him to go with "Guarantee Fetus Right to a Good Life" -- He pretty much asserts that until we make life perfect we should just abort everybody. Except, perhaps, the children of the Beautiful People. Considering that he's a pastor of a church in Brooklyn, doesn't see to think his own parishioners' lives are worth living, since they're not basking in all the things that we should have totally guaranteed for us before we're allowed to draw breath. Be consistent, Rev. Taylor. Go preach in The Hamptons.

  • Susan Jacoby likewise goes into predictable rhetoric with "The Republicans And The Christian Right: They Want To Decide For Us All". It's NARAL talking points. Don't bother reading it unless you're on a debate team and you want to know what the person arguing in favor of abortion is going to say so you can rebut it. She pretty much hits 'em all.

  • John Mark Reynolds brings fresh life to old ideas in "Advance Liberty, Overturn Roe". He starts, "Every aborted baby looks alike, but every child allowed to live becomes absolutely unique. Abortion crushes liberty for the sake of a single choice--it ends possibility with the cruel actuality of murder." Reynolds takes the basic moral truths we all know and says them in a new way.

    Overall the essay isn't as tight as I'd like it to be, but it's still full of good stuff. I'll give you just a few snippets:

    "In a just society there can be no right to do evil. Not every evil should be illegal, but no evil action should be hallowed as a constitutional right."

    "Liberty always loses when the weak lose rights for the benefit of the stronger."

    "Some assert that killing a baby is no worse than refusing to give a family a government welfare check. Being born into poverty is not good because it limits possibilities, but being killed is a good deal more limiting."

  • Pamela K. Taylor weighs in with "Abortion Rights Pose a Multitude of Moral Dilemmas". Which I guess before I read it means, "If we talk sad about abortion, then we can sanction it and not feel so guilty." (You'll notice that anybody who starts to talk about abortion being "complex" or "nuanced" or "a moral dilemma" will come out in favor of cart-blanc government sanction.)

    On the one hand, Ms. Taylor doesn't disappoint: She does come down in favor of a total green light on abortion from a legal standpoint. I saw that coming. But she does surprise me in that she has done her homework. She does recognize the ramifications and costs to women and families -- and the unborn. In the end, she's a queasy prochoicer who wants to push for "prevention". She'd probably do a world of good if she stopped taking abortion-advocacy organization's word for what actually works when you're trying to prevent abortion. And she's bright enough, and enough of an independent thinker, that I have high hopes that she and others like her might form the hub of a third arm of the abortion struggle.

    It's a good read. All Ms. Taylor and others like her need is a strategy that isn't handed down from the abortion lobby, which has no more of an interest in reducing abortion than a tobacco company has in getting people to stop smoking.

  • Starhawk, with "Abortion and the Goddess", is a must-read, because if I told you what she had to say you'd never believe me. In a nutshell -- she worships abortion. Literally. "We honor the act of choosing as a sacred and moral act." Everything she says just validates the accuracy of the Scriptures:

    2 Timothy 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

    Even if you're not a Christian, odds are you'll be able to see the fundamental creepiness of embracing abortion as sacred.

  • Thomas J. Reese posts "Abortion: Rhetoric or Results". He's a Jesuit, which doesn't give me high hopes, especially not with a title that promises to snark about prolifers not embracing contraception -- as if the way to reduce unintended pregnancy is to increase the frequency with which people engage in sex in untenable situations. And he doesn't disappoint. He ignores data and instead cites false, debunked statistics. Don't even bother.

  • Brad Hirschfiled starts with a startling title -- "It's My Body And I'll Cut If I Want To" -- which brings to mind the pieces I've written on abortion and self-harm, and abortion and elective amputations. But that's not where he goes with it. He favors abortion, but says "Roe may have gotten us to a better place in many ways, but it enshrined a notion of privacy that is as morally empty as the alternative is coercive. By focusing on the notion that "it's my body and I'll cut if I want to", Roe turned this complex issue into a battleground about personal autonomy, and complex psychological issues that would be summarized by my kids as 'you're not the boss of me'."

    He goes on to amaze me by raising this pithy point:

    "Years ago I participated in a public forum on this issue, which included a national leader from Planned Parenthood. She gave a powerful presentation about the right to choose. The problem for me was that I when I asked her if she had ever counseled a young women to keep the pregnancy/baby, she could not recall having ever given that advice! It wasn't about choice for her at all. It was about power - the need to demonstrate that each of us can do whatever we want. And that understanding of choice is as dangerous as the choicelessness which the pro-life community celebrates."

    But he ends with NARAL talking points, which is a shame. He really could have taken this somewhere. It'd be nice to see him getting together with Ms. Taylor and doing something constructive instead of just writing some insightful things then trusting the abortion lobby to do the right thing because they say they're for "choice".

  • Deepak Chopra shows promise with is title: "When Gray Is the Only Color". How often is unfettered abortion promoted as a recognition that after all, life isn't black-and-white? Maybe he's going to critique this.

    Nope. He's not going to critique it. It's his argument. For every argument against abortion, he says, there's just as good a one in favor. For every argument for abortion, there's just as good a one against it. So, just to be safe, let's just ignore the arguments against it, keep doing it, but admit that the people saying we ought not to do it have a point.

    Which is as morally lame as it gets.

  • Arun Gandhi writes "The Morality of Abortion" - Predictable but short.
  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    I could barely read that piece by "Starhawk", but noted that her co-author was rightly named, being "M. Nightmare."