While sitting down with a group of friends for an afternoon of games, the issue of pregnancy came up. My friends, which are of a liberal bent, had the following things to say about pregnancy: “the most contracted STD”, supporting a “parasite”, like “having cancer”, and a few other clever remarks we’ve all heard hundreds of times over. When the issue of abortion came up, you can bet they were all in support of a woman’s right to “choose”.
Now, we should all know by now, especially after the bishops came down so hard on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Joe Biden, that the Catholic Church has always condemned all abortion, across the board, as a grave evil. Abortion is always wrong, no matter the reason. But why?
Let’s look at the issue of choice. My wife is very fond of the quick retort, “The time to choose was before she spread her legs.” There’s certainly a very strong case against abortion on that front. If a woman chose to have sex, knowing that sex leads to babies, then she should stand up and take responsibility for the baby. Now, outside a true understanding of abortion and the purpose of sex and so on, we could potentially haggle about what is “taking responsibility for the baby”, because there will be those who argue that abortion is doing exactly that! However, let’s set that concern aside for the moment.
There’s a number of places where my wife’s quick response falls short, the foremost being the cases of rape and incest. It is harder to argue, from reasons of choice, that a woman shouldn’t have an abortion when fundamentally the pregnancy wasn’t the woman’s choice. She didn’t want to be raped, and that rape was a dreadful, dreadful thing. She didn’t want to be a victim of incest, which is a terrible violation of familial trust. Surely abortion must be acceptable here! Yet the Catholic Church remains adamantly opposed here, as well. A generous skeptic might be willing to concede the point because adoption is an issue, but this, to many people, seems pushing the limits of tolerability. But again, we’ll set that aside for the moment.
In the peak of all audacity, though, the Catholic Church makes what seems the most unjust, intolerable statement. In the case where either the child dies, or both the mother and the child die, it is still wrong to have an abortion. This is what “across the board” entails, and it is something very upsetting to even consider. Could anyone in their right conscience tell someone they had to die because it was unethical to remove the problem that is killing them?
Note that in the case of promiscuous sex, we can easily condemn abortion because the choice should have been whether or not to have sex, not whether or not to kill the resulting child, but that argument doesn’t propagate down. Note that in the case of incest and rape we can at least try to encourage giving the kid up for adoption, but that doesn’t propagate down to the case where the mother won’t be around to give up the child!
There’s a unifying theme, though, that explains why the Catholic Church can justify her position, and why she is right in condemning abortion across the board, no matter the reason. The hint lies back in my friends’ comments.
What type of reason could one ever have to called pregnancy an STD? What type of world view does it take to call an unborn child a parasite? Now, I love my friends and they are dear to me, but there’s a grossly mistaken notion about those very people that we should value the most.
An STD. A disease. Something unwanted, something to “cure”. A parasite. Something unwanted, something that feeds off the host without providing anything in return. If the hint isn’t clear enough, the following passage should reveal everything:
A most enlightening article by Amy Barrett on why another aborted two of her children.
My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to
The motive of self-interest is taken to the extreme and becomes murderous when a life is sacrificed for ME,I and MINE. Don’t do it
This is the issue. Me. Me above all else. Abortion is such a grave ill because fundamentally it is the willingness to destroy another person for direct personal gain. In any other area of life, we hear how horrible this mentality is. A man enslaving another man? Terrible. A corporation shortchanging its employees and grossly overcharging its customers? Horrible. A company paying a woman less than a man? Despicable. A bunch of corrupt CEOs, some fat-cats on Wall Street, and a handful of sympathetic senators destroying the economy to line their own pockets? Outrageous. And yet abortion gets a pass.
That’s because babies get in the way. Babies ruin careers and cost a huge amount of money. Babies spoil all your plans. Once you have a baby, just one, it is a minimum of eighteen years before you get your life back (unless you’re in Nebraska, at which point you can drop your kid off at any hospital and skedaddle). And that’s supposing your kid doesn’t go to college for seven years and then come home and spend the next five trying to figure out what he’s going to do. Have two kids, three? You’ll be well past your prime before you get your life back, and by then you’re too old and aching to enjoy it.
The implicit assumption is this. I deserve everything good that life can give me, and nothing should get in my way of that pursuit. If something does, I am perfectly justified in removing that obstacle from my path. I had better be guaranteed a good life with everything I want. It’s the American dream, isn’t it?
If your world view is that this life is all there is—that once we die, that’s it—then there’s no other way to behave than to take all we can here and now, and who cares who gets trampled. A fetus is easier to destroy because it can’t fight back.
But certainly there are plenty of people willing to support abortion in limited cases that don’t have this world view. They will talk about how terrible it is to force a baby on someone who doesn’t want one, and how heartless it is to force someone to die for some textbook platitudes. Above all else, these people are interested in justice, and what the Catholic Church states doesn’t seem like justice.
Once again, there’s a unifying assumption that is fallacious, and that is the assumption that we deserve justice in our lives, that we deserve to have our lives turn out exactly as we expect. That we are the ones that determine what happens to us.
You know, I would love for my life to turn out the way I had wanted it to, but due to some dumb decisions, there are paths that I wanted to take that are forever denied me. If I were in charge, I would still have those chances. But I’m not in charge.
I’m sure that all those poor teenaged girls who became pregnant while in high-school didn’t want their hopes for the future suddenly dampened. I’m sure they would love to have the chances they were forced to leave behind for the sake of their kids. But they’re not the ones in charge.
At what point in time did we abandon, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done”? Because it is the departure from that statement that makes the Catholic Church’s insistence on abortion seem so unjust. We decided we were the arbiters of what happens in our lives, and we arbitrated that our lives are so vital to the working of the universe that we can justify the murder of an innocent human being in order to protect ourselves. We’ve pushed God from the center of everything, and we’re now playing King of the Mountain trying to fill His role.
This is important to realize. If we can justify the murder of an innocent human being, we can justify anything: socialistic policies that kill the dignity of the worker; unjust wars, in which hubris and fear of unstable oil supplies trump any other consideration; cooking the books to yoke as much profit as possible out of a gullible public; propagating any lie to support our position and win elections.
The issue of life is the most fundamental there is. It is fundamental because ultimately, every issue is a life issue. To fail on the most blatant cases does not bode well for the less-obvious ones.
So what’s the point? Abortion is a vote of no confidence in God. Supporting abortion, either directly or tacitly by supporting pro-choice candidates, states that we don’t believe God has a clue of how to provide ultimate justice. Having a baby would ruin our life plans? Did we never think that God has a better plan? Did we never think that that baby is more important than a $60,000 a year job, a fat retirement plan, and decent health insurance? Or worse—suppose that baby demands that we indeed lay down our lives for the sake of not committing such a terrible sin. Did we never think that God is demanding that we be willing to lay down our lives for His sake? It is a hard thing to do, and it seems cruel to tell someone that is what God requires. But that is exactly what God requires, and we have to keep in mind that this life is not the end of things. Maybe the best thing we could do with our lives is to show that obedience to God is worth dying for.