Okay, to be fair, I think this goes both way in American politics. I’ve always said that everyone is a fiscal conservative until it is “their cause” that gets defunded, and everyone is a fiscal liberal until it is “their tax rate” that gets increased.
Nevertheless, some things ooze such inconsistency that it is almost laughable. As many are aware, the Virginia state legislature recent passed a bill that requires a woman to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. As you can imagine, the pro-abortion constituency is out in full force over such a perceived “injustice.” Now, call me crazy, but it seems that such a requirement should at least implicitly be considered under “informed consent.” And besides, if those on the pro-abortion side are so sure that the fetus growing inside the womb is really just a mass of tissue, then there should be nothing to worry about, right? Let us not be fooled here – the objection to the ultrasound has nothing to do with the requirement itself – it has much more to do with the fear that this just may actually convince more women that the baby growing inside them actually is a life.
At any rate, an article appeared on Slate.com by Dahlia Lithwick last Thursday that would have had me falling off the couch in hysterics had it not been meant to be actually taken seriously. It was a great example of how the line between laughter and tears is often fine indeed when reading liberal commentaries.
The first laughable/cry-able moment came when the author implied … no wait, she flat out said it … that such a requirement constitutes an act of rape:
[This] means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure … the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.
Okay, now let’s first note that no-one is forcing any woman to have such an ultra sound; the law merely provides such an action as a pre-requisite for the abortion procedure. Any woman could alway opt not to have the abortion, and consequently be spare the “violation” of the ultrasound. The logic here is intellectually dishonest at best, and manipulative at worst. Under the same logic, we could object to any medical pre-requisite. Besides, and I am happy to be correct on this, in the event that the individual decides to proceed with the abortion, is not penetration inevitable? In fact, one could argue that the ultrasound is not a separate procedure but rather the first step in the abortion.
The argument continued,
Evidently the right of conscience for doctors who oppose abortion are a matter of grave national concern. The ethical and professional obligations of physicians who would merely like to perform their jobs without physically violating their own patients are, however, immaterial.
So here we have it … the left refuses to admit that the recent HHS mandate is a violation of conscience for individual business owners and religious organizations, they often even want to eliminate a Catholic hospital’s right to refuse abortion services based on conscientious objections, but now all of a sudden conscience should be a part of the conversation.
Lithwick goes on,
Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument about the obscene government overreach that is the individual mandate in President Obama’s health care law. Yet physical intrusion by government into the [body] of a pregnant woman is so urgently needed that the woman herself should be forced to pay for the privilege.
Another inconsistency: the Virginia law is a clear overreach of government by requiring an individual to pay to a procedure to which they conscientiously object, yet the ability of the Catholic Church to opt out of paying for practices that they find morally incompatible with its faith is just plain silly. Am I understanding this right?
You can shame and violate women, while couching it in the language of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s gift that keeps on giving—his opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart. That opinion upheld Congress’ partial-birth abortion ban on the grounds that (although there was no real evidence to support this assumption) some women who have abortions will suffer “severe depression” and “regrets” if they aren’t made to understand the implications of what they have done.
And at the end of the article,
Abortion is still legal in America. Physically invading a woman’s body against her will still isn’t. Let’s not casually pass laws that upend both principles in the name of helping women make better choices.
So, as is commonly stated, nationally legalized abortion is the “law of the land,” so while it is okay for you to personally object to the practice, please don’t try to push that belief on others. However, even thought the same Court has made the ability of the States to prevent partial-birth abortion the “law of the land” … well, in that case they were just plain wrong.
So which is it, my dear leftist friends? Is conscientious objection important or isn’t it? Should individuals be required to pay for procedures they find objectionable or shouldn’t they? Does the “law of the land” matter or doesn’t it? It seems to me that the answer depends greatly on the ideology at hand, which in this case is the perceived “right” to abortion on demand. In other words, we must accept a priori the right to abortion, and then we use any and all arguments available to defend that decision, even if it means speaking out of both side of the mouth at times.
Now, in fairness, it could be asked whether the political right is being just as inconsistent in all three arguments. Whether this is true or not I leave up to political commentators. For my own part, I submit that the Catholic position has no such inconsistencies, and here is why. First, we don’t ground our positions in the law of the land or conscience seen as an unfettered freedom to relieve one’s self from any and all acts. Rather, we ground our positions in natural law and conscience seen as the freedom to pursue truth and goodness. Forcing a doctor to perform an abortion is a clear violation of his or her right to act in a way consistent with a belief system. The act itself is the violation – the Catholic finds the act objectively immoral. It is not that a Catholic doctor wants to perform abortions in some cases and not in others, it is that he or she never wants to perform them. In requiring an ultrasound for a woman seeking abortions, what act is being found objectively immoral? Correct me if I am wrong, but an ultrasound, whether external or internal, is a perfectly acceptable medical procedure by both the left and the right.
Second, from a Catholic position, the natural law it the governing principle, not the “law of the land.” Natural law, inscribed on everyone’s heart, deeply suggests that the taking of a life is intrinsically immoral. Science has shown over and over again that the “mass of tissue” in the womb of a mother is a life. Even rudimentary philosophy says that it is a human life. But returning to the matter of conscience, if we understand that freedom of conscience does not give an individual the right to abstain from any and all acts (for instance, it does not give and individual the ability to refrain from stopping a violent crime taking place before him), then we can see that freedom of conscience does have limits. The question for the left is: in what do you ground the limits of freedom of conscience? For Catholics, the answer is clear: natural law. Therefore, it is a violation of conscience to require the taking of this life. Yet in supporting the required ultrasound, rather than seeing it as violating conscience, we understand in the greater context of the right to life.
Third, if freedom of conscience is at the service of pursuing truth, then how does giving the doctor and patient more information violate this process? In other words, if a doctor has the “right” to eliminate the ultrasound from this procedure, the same logic could be used to dismiss all informed consent laws form the books.
Finally, it is always amusing to hear the left decry government regulation in cases such as this. Somehow the government not only has the right, but the duty, to regulate Wall Street and the Health Care industry in a way that destroys any rational notion of subsidiarity and was never envisioned by the founding fathers, yet when it comes to a required ultrasound before an abortion … well, clearly that is a government overreach.