One might have guessed that there would be more than the usual amount of nonsense in the Washington Post‘s “On Faith” column this week as they asked the question: “John McCain and Sarah Palin say it’s time to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Do you agree? What is the right moral choice?”
They could have asked the question, “Barack Obama thinks it is morally acceptable for doctors to allow infants who survive abortion to die. Do you agree?” But that was as likely as Barbara Streisand endorsing Bob Barr for president. So what kind of answers did the Post get to their question?
First up, we have the Rev. Gardner Calvin Taylor, senior pastor emeritus of the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn. His answer is succinct and beside the point:
Government has a right to attack Roe v. Wade only when it guarantees that the fetus will have a quality education, adequate food and housing, quality healthcare, and a favorable community in which to advance. Anything short of this is infanticide in stages and wanton hypocrisy.
I’m not sure, but I think he’s saying that abortion should be legal until the United States embraces Communism. I do know that his contention that abortion is OK unless a child is guaranteed “a favorable community in which to advance” is utopian and reprehensible. I’ve got to wonder how many of his congregants in Brooklyn he would have counseled to have abortions if Bed-Stuy didn’t turn into the Upper West Side overnight.
Next, we have old dependable Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite:
Women died when abortion was illegal. Women were butchered when abortion was illegal.
Well, yes, but women have also died from botched abortions since 1973. And because the numbers tossed about by the pro-abortion lobby were made up out of thin air, we actually can’t say for certain whether the numbers show legal or illegal abortions to be more numerous. She also writes:
Abortion is a decision that people sometimes make after wrestling with competing moral claims. Abortion is also the end product of a society that fails to protect women from violence, fails to give young people truthful explanations of their own reproductive capacity and the tools to be able to act responsibly their whole reproductive lives and often fails to provide even the minimum needed to earn a living and care for your family in dignity and health.
An ethical way to address abortion reduction is to give truthful sex education, safe and widely available contraception, health care for pregnant women and their children, and support for day care so that women and their families are not forced into having an abortion because they cannot afford to raise a child.
She needs to stop time-traveling and return to 2008. Sex education is nearly universal, and contraception is available to anyone who lives within walking distance of a convenience store. The problem is neither lack of education nor lack of contraception; it’s the lack of self-control and self-discipline of human beings. Because people can neither keep their pants on nor take adequate measures to stop pregnancy once they get them off, and don’t want to accept the consequences of their actions, abortions in the hundreds of thousands are the result. With Dr. Thistlethwaite’s full approval, one might add.
Then there’s Susan Jacoby, who’s convinced that the only people who don’t celebrate abortion as a sacrament are those conservative Christians who think A Handmaid’s Tale was a manual rather than a novel:
[Overturning Roe] would leave the entire matter of abortion up to individual states, where (especially in the South and the Middle West) the religious right has much more influence in state legislatures than it does in Congress. The result will be a return to the pre-1973, pre-Roe reality: the only way for a woman to obtain an abortion, for any reason, will be for her to travel to a state that allows the procedure. This means that abortions will, de facto, be available only to women with enough money and sophistication to travel.
Hmmm. Only women sophisticated enough to get on a bus or drive a car to another state would be able to get abortions. I never really thought of either of those things as being marks of sophistication, but maybe in the circles Jacoby travels in, they are.
But in one respect, she’s correct. Because people who respect life are a greater percentage of the population in places like Alabama than in places like New York, it is likely that Alabamians would be able to outlaw abortion in most instances, whereas New Yorkers would not. That’s called democracy, and it’s what happens when New Yorkers aren’t allowed to impose their morality on Alabamians. Personally, I’m not much on democracy in regards to abortion, because I think it’s a grotesque evil that should be outlawed everywhere, like slavery. But it’s people like Jacoby that are so outraged at the idea that conservative Christians might “impose” their opinions on everyone else, whereas she and her ilk are perfectly happy imposing theirs on others.
The Rev. Susan Smith of Advent UCC in Columbus, Ohio is confused about the whole right-to-kill thing:
I do not for the life of me understand why the government should have that kind of power over what should be a personal choice of a woman.
Is that the way a democracy is really supposed to function? I am so confused anymore about what the government can and cannot do, but this I am not confused about: I would resent it if my government prevented me from making a choice I felt I had to make.
The other Susan Smith–the South Carolina mom who decided she had to drown her children, rather than giving custody to her husband so she could pursue and affair–must have felt the same way. See, Rev. Smith, abortion isn’t about choice, it’s about killing, and what you want is not the right to make your own choices, it’s the right to kill your children, and the prevention of killing is generally taken to be one of the primary purposes of government.
She also doesn’t seem to understand the difference between killing and deprivation of goods:
But isn’t it murder as well to let a hungry child go hungry, a poor child remain homeless, and a poorly educated child lose hope and end up in prison? If we want the babies – all babies – to come into the world, we ought to be willing to take care of them once they are in the world.
I wonder if people like Smith ever stop to think that this position is tantamount to saying that millions–tens of millions–of children who are currently alive in the world, some even in the United States, should be killed because they can’t have it as good as the Susan Smiths of the world? Are hunger, homelessness, lack of education, or even imprisonment good things? Of course not. But it is possible to overcome all of them, whereas it is not possible to overcome never having been born.
UPDATE: I had to add one, from Arun Gandhi, that is a triumph of liberal political ideology over moral sense:
There can be nothing moral about abortion
So abortion is wrong–no ifs, ands, or buts. There is nothing moral about abortion, indeed there cannot be, which means we may thus put in a category with genocide, slavery and racism.
but there are times in one’s life when one is called upon to make a choice that may go against the ethics of society. Abortion is one of those issues. I believe it is strictly the choice of the woman concerned and it is not society’s business to dictate morality and ethics to individuals.
So, despite the fact that there is nothing moral about abortion, despite the fact that it involves a horrific evil that can have nothing good about it, despite the fact that society “dictates morality” all the time (and on lots of far less serious moral issues than abortion), this is one of those about which society should say absolutely nothing.
I for one do not want a President or a Vice President to tell me how to lead my life and preach morality to the nation.
Actually, Gandhi has made clear in “On Faith” columns that he is perfectly happy to have the president, vice president, Congress, in fact the whole government preach morality. This is a man who said of this year’s presidential candidates, “will turn the United States into a truly Christian country that will put the Sermon on the Mount where it belongs: front and center of our Constitution.” So we need the president to put the Sermon on the Mount in the Constitution, but not say a word about a practice that has nothing moral about it.
A Supreme Court that is dominated by men has no business poking its nose in the affairs of women.
Because men have nothing to do with bringing children into being, I guess.