The Root of All Abortion

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:

Thirteen Reasons for Abortion (in one paragraph)

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.

God is.

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.

23 Responses to The Root of All Abortion

  • lwestin says:

    Excellemt commentary.

    There’s a big difference between ‘Christian humanism ‘ and ‘secular humanism’, and that difference is really the ‘big divide’ in the abortion discuassion.

    (In Canada we’re not even allowed to discuss it!)

  • Joe says:

    It makes me almost laugh when someone says they accidently got pregnant. I have always wanted to answer with, “did you have sex?” When you have sex (the purpose of which is both unitive and procreative – not getting into this that is a whole other issue) and do not get pregnant it is more like you accidently did not get pregnant. When you flip on a light switch you do not say I accidently turned on a light — that is the purpose of the switch.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Ryan,

    Phenomenal.

    J. Christian,

    I’ve always struggled with that once I embraced the full teachings of the Church. In my opinion, and it’s only an opinion, maybe Ryan by his faithful witness to Christ may be able to sway their opinions. Maybe even have them convert!

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • j. christian says:

    Tito,

    There is always the possibility that by his witness Ryan will win them over one day, and I certainly hope this is true. It would take a person made of much stouter stuff than I. To have “friends” who think of children as a disease… Well, Christ be with you, Ryan!

  • Tito Edwards says:

    J. Christian,

    It is very difficult. Especially when comingling with my secular friends. When certain subjects come up I’m uneasy as to correct my buddies or let it slide.

    It’s never easy.

    Though in these instances one can learn humility and patience well.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • SWP says:

    I was struggling with the Precious Blood Chaplet, in which you say 33 Our Fathers while reflecting on text from Evangelium Vitae. Sounds good, right?

    But repeating the Our Father that many times got tedious, and I wanted to pray it with my heart (I know, this shouldn’t be a struggle for someone praying the Rosary).

    I feel like this post was the answer to my unspoke prayer. At this time in history, on the cusp of an Obama presidency, we need to pray the Our Father more times than we think we ought. “Thy will be done!” must be our constant refrain as we submit to the rule of Choice, as we watch more of our tax dollars pile into the hands of abortionists, as we watch cloned embryos treated as waste products, as we watch the right to life lobby get beaten to a pulp.

    No, we will not stop our outcry. But God have mercy! Thy Kingdom come~

  • cminor says:

    Sorry–wasn’t getting through for some reason. Please delete or ignore the above.

    Good post.

    For good pro-life discussion of the rape issue, see
    http://www.feministsforlife.org/Q&A/Q2.htm and the linked articles.

    For a thoughtful scientific response to the “parasitism” analogy, see
    http://www.l4l.org/library/notparas.html
    The author, a biology professor, taught courses in both embryology and parasitology. The library page of the parent site (Libertarians for Life) has links to many well-written articles:
    http://www.l4l.org/library/index.html

    I’d like to add clarification to your remarks on Church teaching. The Catechism states:

    “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law…” (#2271)

    In other words, an intentional attempt to kill or dislodge the embryo/fetus before it can reasonably be expected to survive independently violates moral law. A medical procedure necessary to save the mother’s life may be used even if fetal demise occurs as an unintended secondary effect. An example would be the removal of a fallopian tube in imminent danger of rupture from an ectopic pregnancy. (Of course, in the given example the baby would have no chance of survival even if the tube were left alone.)

  • cminor says:

    Sorry for the above inanity; I think the combox was just refusing my urls. I can email them if anyone is interested, but I suppose Google will do.

    Good post.

    For good pro-life discussion of the rape issue, check out the topics page at Feminists For Life’s website.

    For a thoughtful scientific response to the “parasitism” analogy, go to Libertarians for Life’s website and look up the article, “Why the Human Embryo or Fetus is Not a Parasite.”
    The author, a biology professor, taught courses in both embryology and parasitology.

    I’d like to add clarification to your remarks on Church teaching. The Catechism states:

    “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law…” (#2271)

    In other words, an intentional attempt to kill or dislodge the embryo/fetus before it can reasonably be expected to survive independently violates moral law. A medical procedure necessary to save the mother’s life may be used even if fetal demise occurs as an unintended secondary effect. An example would be the removal of a fallopian tube in imminent danger of rupture from an ectopic pregnancy. (Of course, in the given example the baby would have no chance of survival even if the tube were left alone.)

  • Ryan says:

    Exactly. What gives those embryos the idea that they have the right to come into this world uninvited? We need to dispense justice on the unthinking potential-humans that unfairly take advantage of people who make love in a certain way!

  • Ryan Harkins says:

    I certainly hope that I will have a positive effect, a good Catholic influence, on my friends. One of them is a homosexual, and has made it clear how grateful he is that I don’t simply condemn him out of hand. He knows that I feel his acting on his sexual preference is sinful, but he also knows that I still offer friendship and support. We sit down and talk amiably about issues of religion and particular viewpoints from time to time, and I don’t know if I’ll have any effect, but at least he’ll be more informed.

  • Ryan Harkins says:

    Suzanne,

    No, there’s nothing wrong with expecting justice for oneself. The problem is, we tend to expect preference for ourselves, and to justify it we try to wrap it up as justice. I doubt any one of us really wants what we truly deserve (outside the sacrifice on Calvary, of course).

  • Tito Edwards says:

    CMinor,

    No we are not moderating, but our spam detection system marked your posting as spam.

    I apologize for this, but I believe that it was because you had a link in your comments. This shouldn’t happen again. Everyone can place a link in their comments, it just takes time for our spam detection system to discern what is and is not spam.

    Comment away CMinor!

  • cminor says:

    My apologies–as no message came up when I hit the “Submit” button I figured my comments had evaporated into the ether. Boy, do I feel stupid!
    Would somebody on the site please just delete my multiple post attempts and just leave the last one? There’s no reason anybody should have to plow through my repetitions.

  • Nathaniel says:

    A good commentary. I know we talked about it a while ago but I just wanted to mention that it looks like overpopulation theorists (whom I think we all agree contribute to a culture of death) are starting a new fundraising and organizing drive.

    Here is a link.

    http://gpso.wordpress.com/gpso-letter/

    Some of those who signed the letter I recognize like Albert A. Bartlett. This is the same person speaking in a set of youtube videos that a believer of his put online as “The Most IMPORTANT Video You’ll Ever See” in 8 parts.

    The first is in the above link.

    About the Bartlett videos, I watched them all and wrote up a list of the things that were questionable. It ended up being 3 or 4 pages long. Maybe I write using too many words but (in spite of being a math lesson on a specific type of equation) it has many errors (that I’m willing to point out if someone is interested in listening and noting them, and also notice how little he actually talks about ecological damage).

    As Tito may know already, I don’t view those who advocate better care of the environment as foolish or encouraging others to act badly. I think they are trying to deal with a serious topic that should be taken as such.

    But I’m not sure if this misuse (in my opinion) of environmentalism is likely to end soon. And I don’t want to see a movement that is intended to do good turned into a cheerleader for the culture of death-especially when real world attempts to deal with “overpopulation” have resulted in no improvement in environmental conditions (sometimes things have gotten worse) and a sizable number of people dying.

    One last thing makes me curious (and I apologize in advance if this makes me seem ignorant to someone who can explain). Why is it that people like Bill Gates are actively listed among those invited to join?

  • cminor says:

    I can’t cite chapter and verse re Gates’s charitable work, Nathaniel, but it seems to me this won’t have been the first time he’s promoted population control through his foundations.

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