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Friday, March 03, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Just Another Bump in the Roe

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Next! Move ’em on through!
Norma Leah McCorvey died February 18, and unless you happened across this article in The Economist or something like it in one of the few other well-known publications that referenced her passing, you might not have the slightest idea that Norma was the “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade, probably the most significant U.S. Supreme Court ruling of the last century.

Tom: You also might not know that by the time the Supremes actually ruled on her case, the baby Norma McCorvey went to court to get the State’s permission to murder in her own womb was 2-1/2 years old and had been adopted. That’s the legal system for you.

The Rest of the Story

So the subject of Roe v. Wade survived, even though as a result of the decision, the equivalent of the combined populations of California and New York State have been summarily dispatched in the years since. You may not know that giving her baby away made Norma miserable, or that she never went to court and never testified in the action she initiated.

You also would likely not know that in 2005 Norma took her best shot at having Roe v. Wade overturned in an action styled McCorvey v. Hill. The Supremes denied her petition, and while that rather salient fact is conveniently unaddressed by the Economist piece, you can find it here. Oh, and she became a Catholic and joined the pro-life movement.

Why can’t we seem to undo the bad things we have done, no matter how hard we try, Immanuel Can?

Immanuel Can: Heh. That’s like asking, “Why does sin hurt?”

The Sympathetic Face of the Debate

But whose sin is all this? McCorvey’s? Somewhat. But what about all those sanctimonious abortion advocates, chiming on about a woman’s “right to her own body,” then shamelessly using McCorvey’s body to promote an agenda that never really served her interests and which plunged her into a later life of sorrow and regret, and who fought back to keep her from even trying to “make it right”?

Tom: Oh, it’s even more cynical, if that’s possible: McCorvey was never looking to be on the Supreme Court docket. She was just a drug-using basket case five months into her third pregnancy who didn’t qualify for an abortion in Texas, when she was not-so-providentially referred to a couple of lawyers named Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington. Coffee and Weddington were looking to make their names by getting abortion law changed, and they needed a pregnant, desperate, sympathetic face to pull it off. McCorvey was in the right place at the right time to be used and quickly discarded by a pair of opportunistic feminists.

IC: Really lovely. What does the Word say? “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel”? I think that’s it.

Under the Bus

Tom: It strikes me the Left is an awful lot like Satan in that respect: it will woo you and offer you whatever you’re looking for to come on board and be used to further the Narrative, but it is perfectly happy to hurl you under the bus after it’s done with you. Satan was happy to use Judas to betray the Lord, but once he’d served his purpose, he was done with him. You can practically hear the hiss of the serpent in the response of the elders and the chief priests to Judas when he experienced regret: “What is that to us? See to it yourself.

IC: Yes, and you can hear that same hiss from the advocates of abortion on demand who used and threw away Miss McCorvey.

Poster Girl with a Conscience

Tom: What’s interesting to me is that everyone knows Roe v. Wade, but almost nobody knows the rest of the story. I didn’t. If it were not for the pro-life advocacy folks pushing McCorvey back into the news and using her as their spokesperson, you would think she had fallen off the face of the earth. It’s a fascinating story, but not one the media wants anything to do with.

IC: No, nor politicians. There just isn’t a “win” for them in raising the issue at all, since whichever side they back will alienate the other half of the electorate and guarantee non-election. Even the last Canadian Conservative government didn’t touch it; and you know that if they don’t, the other parties definitely won’t. Since Roe v. Wade, just under 60 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. alone — every one of them legally citizens, and every last one of them rightfully the property of God himself … and no politician can — or will — stop it.

Tom: No, I think it’s unlikely we’ll see it stopped in our lifetime. We may see some people attempt to slow it down, but not in the West. To his credit, President Trump quickly put an end to some of the Third World abortion promotion that was indulged under the Obama administration, but Norway and Sweden and Canada and other liberal countries are kicking in to pick up the slack.

Do Christians Use People?

There’s an argument made by progressives that Christians are happy to use someone like Norma McCorvey just as cynically and impersonally as the pro-abortion crowd used her. Do you think there’s anything to that?

IC: Important difference: what did Norma really want? In the first place, it’s clear she never had in mind to become the abortionists’ “Roe”. But when she came to her senses and repented, she herself chose to make partnerships with anti-abortionism.

Tom: Good point.

IC: The philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that the hallmark of immorality was to treat another human being as merely “as a means” instead of valuing him as “an end in himself”. It’s clear that all Norma McCorvey was to the abortionists was a means to advance their agenda, and after that she had no value to them in herself. They did nothing to help her escape her follies and her self-destructive ways. In fact, they were entirely uninterested in whatever wishes she might actually have; for to them she had no ultimate value or dignity as a person. I see no indicators that Christians ever treated her that way; do you?

Tom: No. There’s even the suggestion in The Economist piece that Norma may have been opportunistically using the Christians she encountered and the platform they gave her, rather than the other way around.

Grist for the Mill

But that’s the abortion industry for you — and it absolutely is an industry. Planned Parenthood grossed nearly a billion dollars in 2005-6 with a surplus of $55 million. A third of that was tax dollars. These organizations literally cash in on women’s mistakes without making any serious effort to help them prevent them from coming back to visit same time next year. And why should they when it’s so lucrative “helping” them find a short-term fix for their problem?

Notice that at no point in the process do we see any secular authority saying to Norma, “Hmm, do you think maybe you should cut back a little on the unprotected sex with strange men?” Christians, however awkwardly and failingly, are at least addressing the root problem.

IC: Funny that abortionists present themselves as so interested in women’s rights in the vague general sense, when they are so completely indifferent to this particular woman — and that, even though she was the ‘flagship’ woman of their own cause!

Their treatment of her reminds me of a thing once said about the great humanitarian-in-theory Percy Bysshe Shelley: “He loved humanity in general but was often cruel to human beings in particular.” The truth is that abortion is all about the self-interest of promiscuous individuals — only around 1% of the procedures have any other possible cause or excuse — and so it’s not surprising that people who will so callously throw away an unborn person will just as callously throw away an adult person as well.

The Search for Forgiveness

Tom: The Economist story kind of mocks Norma for the need she felt for forgiveness. Here’s the exact quote:
“The ceiling didn’t fall down, and lightning didn’t strike when she got baptised in someone’s swimming pool; just the best high of her life. Jesus forgave her for all those dead babies, and now she would help save them.”
The “best high of her life”: there’s a strained metaphor for you. I find it a little patronizing, and it ignores the fact that having an abortion causes acute guilt that is not simply a manifestation of social pressure. While the APA now says women do not put their mental health at risk by having an abortion, this series of interviews from The Daily Mail tells quite another story. Sure, some of the tougher-minded women they spoke to appear to have rationalized or minimized their symptoms, but most of the interviewees admit to finding the experience devastating.

IC: So now the abortionists are (a) mocking anyone who repents, and at the same time, (b) telling all the women who are crushed beneath the guilt of what they’ve done just to pretend they’re not actually in pain. They deny the problem, withhold relief from the suffering, and try to shame anyone who is dealing with her sin.

These people are ... just ... lovely! Have they souls anymore?

Yes, I know. They do: just apparently very small, charred ones.

I Will Give You Rest

Tom: That’s one reason I believe the Christian message: it doesn’t insist that I’m a good guy despite the evidence of my conscience, my history, the independent observations of my friends and the trail of damage I leave behind me. The truth as told by Jesus Christ doesn’t assure me I’m fine, or compare me to others and say I’m not as bad as they are. It faces my sin and offers to relieve me of that burden.

And that’s the message we can take to women who have bought society’s lie and terribly damaged themselves, not to mention the cowardly men who often push for abortions of convenience rather than face the obligations of paternity. Yes, what you did was awful, but you can be forgiven.

IC: There’s a road back for all the Norma McCorveys of the world. And what would it mean to a woman who secretly knows very well she’s murdered her own child to be told there’s a way back? But there is, you see; and Christ holds it open to all who will seek it ... no matter how deep the guilt they feel.

Yet what kind of judgment should rightly fall upon those who deliberately hide that great truth from such a woman, and who leave her to suffer indefinitely in denial and shame, sacrificed on the altar of their own interests?

Having an abortion is a sin, yes; but it’s also forgivable. I suspect that the greater sin belongs to those unrepentant advocates and providers of abortion who so routinely manipulate and abuse the Norma McCorveys.

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