Friday, August 12, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Vote Hillary Because … Abortion

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

I’m going to stop using Rachel Held Evans as a whipping boy … er, girl … right after this election, I promise. Her leftism and contempt for evangelical conservatives has become so glaringly obvious that it no longer seems reasonable to consider her in any way representative of mainstream Christian thought. More importantly, she is now so predictably modernist that one may as well discuss the musings of secular humanists instead; their conclusions are just as wrong, but at least they make a passing nod to intellectual coherence.

Tom: Only promise me, Immanuel Can, that you will discuss this latest column of Rachel’s with me. Please, oh please. RHE believes American Christians should push the button for Hillary Clinton in November because … abortion. I kid you not.

I almost cannot type another sentence, so you’ll need to step in here …

Abuse of Language

Immanuel Can: Oh, boy. Well, first thing we’ve got to notice is the abuse of language. Today’s propagandists are excellent at warping debates by using language that is designed to hide the real issues. And “pro-choice” and “pro-life” are both excellent examples of pure propaganda.

Let’s clear that up. Nobody is against either life or choice, and to suggest it is just stupid. (Either that, or you’re talking only about murderers versus Nazis, which is absurd.) The truth is that the issue is not that. It’s whether or not it’s morally okay with the Lord if you abort and if you condone others doing likewise. That’s it. So we need to talk straight right at the start.

Tom: True. “Pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion” are fine with me, just so we’re not dissembling. Let’s not adopt their frame.

Muddying the Waters

Anyway, Evans does. She starts by affirming she’s “pro-life”. It’s her very first line. But then she goes on to say this:
“I believe the sacred personhood of an individual begins before birth and continues throughout life, and I believe that sacred personhood is worth protecting, whether it’s tucked inside a womb, waiting on death row, fleeing Syria in search of a home, or playing beneath the shadow of an American drone.”
If we can make our way past the frantic virtue-signalling, she’s telling us, “I’m willing to vote for the pro-abortion candidate because this election is about more than one issue”. Which is true, of course, so far as it goes.

IC: When you’ve got a two-party system, that’s what you get: two choices. And if you don’t like either of them, then I guess you make a devil’s bargain with one of them, or else opt out of the democratic process. To me, she seems just a little too happy with her devil’s bargain though.

Voting Pro-Choice vs. Voting for Abortion

Tom: I got that feeling too. She gives four reasons to vote for Hillary over Trump and I’m curious what you think of them. The first is this: “Voting pro-choice is not the same as voting for abortion”. Can you make any sense of that at all?

IC: It’s ridiculous. It supposes that abortion is a question about a woman’s “choice”. That would only be true if a) we know for sure that what’s in her womb is not a human being, and b) she had not had other “choices” that could have prevented this very bad “choice”. When a woman has already lost control of who she sleeps with or what contraceptive measures they use (as is the case in 99% of abortions, statistically), how could we possibly imagine she’s going to make a good “choice” the third time around? It’s ridiculous. And probably homicidal.

In any case, for the Christian the question can never be “What choices am I owed”, but only, “What choice does the Lord require of me?” So her argument is completely pagan in assumption.

Tom: Exactly. Whether a baby in the womb is a human life is not some kind of lifestyle question that individuals should get the final word on, like “Hmm, do I want the Ford or the Chevy?” In this particular political climate, yes, we are regrettably given that option. That doesn’t mean Christians get to choose murder just because it’s been made legal — or, as Evans is doing, to advocate for it and vote for it — without other Christians calling them on their moral inconsistency.

IC: Okay, so she’s nuts on that. What do you want to tackle next?

Would Criminalizing Abortion Reduce Abortions?

Tom: Evans claims criminalizing abortion won’t necessarily reduce abortions. She concedes that “legal restrictions on abortion might put a dent in the abortion rate”, but says, “they won’t put an end to abortion as we know it, and, most importantly, they won’t do a thing to alter the number of unwanted pregnancies”.

Number one, she’s wrong: criminalization would definitely put a dent in the abortion rate. The principle of deterrence is baked into Old Testament law — “all Israel shall see, and fear”. I trust God on that over fudged statistics any day.

But let’s say Evans is right, and criminalizing abortion won’t reduce the actual incidence of abortion even a bit. What would criminalization do? It would result in justice for the unborn. It would remove the bloodguilt that stains American society. It would force the burgeoning abortion industry underground and make trafficking in body parts that much more difficult.

Evans’ argument basically boils down to, “Unless you have a perfect solution, you shouldn’t do anything at all”, which is utter nonsense.

IC: As a Christian, I cannot prevent unbelievers doing what they do: the authorities and laws have to do that. But as a Christian, there’s no way I can advocate the murder of children or even the “termination” (horrible, Satanic term, that) of potential children. They don’t belong to me: they belong to God. She seems to completely forget that in her haste to be seen as liberal.

Caring for Low-Income Families

Tom: Her third argument is unrelated to abortion, but just as weird in its own way. She says, “Pro-life advocates should support, rather than oppose, efforts to help low-income families care for their children”. In theory, absolutely. But she ducks the very legitimate question of how this is best done. Progressives like RHE have only one tool in their toolkit, and that’s forced income redistribution through taxation. That’s fine if your intent is a socialist state; we can have that discussion. My take would be that Rachel’s hypothetical working couple with a baby that needs free diapers are better off in the long term in a scenario where one or both (as they see fit) are able to work at decent-paying jobs because a nationalist government hasn’t exported their jobs to India or Malaysia, which is where Trump is coming from.

That’s another topic, in any case. Rachel wants to “think holistically about pro-life values … beyond the labor and delivery unit”. That’s fine. But the automatic solution to that is not necessarily a nanny state, and Christians who disagree with you about that shouldn’t be demonized because they don’t jump to embrace your solution.

Thinking Holistically

IC: Well, I’ve got to ask, what are these “pro-life values”, and what does she mean by “think holistically … beyond the delivery unit”. Does she mean, “Trade off any commitment to a child’s right to life in order to obtain (what she hopes will be) better social provisions for adults?” Yikes. That’s straightforward pro-abortionist reasoning: an adult woman’s wishes are then by her considered greater than the very lives of children.

Tom: This is why I find her starting with the words “I’m pro-life” so profoundly ironic. What she seems to mean is “I’m pro-life, provided that every child born and every parent who cares for them can be assured of the quality of life that I deem reasonable and fair and that no inconveniences of any sort might accrue to the parent by virtue of giving birth to the child”, which is a position almost everyone can agree with (except, of course, those who profit financially from the abortion industry). It’s also out there in rainbow unicorn territory. Good luck with that!

I Will Be Your Father Figure

IC: I think she’s fallen prey to the common feminist delusion that the State can be her new father-figure, the infinite and cost-free provider of whatever it is we need. But that’s surely been tried repeatedly and failed every time … so she needs to learn some history and economics. But no matter what social “goods” the State might promise, how can she, as a Christian, agree to trade those goods off against the killing of (even potential) people. Does she imagine God winks at such deals?

Tom: What the history of American society in the years since the Roe v. Wade decision should have made clear to us is that more abortion does not equal less poverty. 54 million abortions later, the average American is poorer than he or she was in 1973. Now of course there are other factors involved in that, and correlation does not imply causation, but if more abortion meant a better chance at financial security and a good life, I think we’d see pressure on those numbers in the opposite direction.

IC: Quite right. I think there are a lot of Christians who suffer with Evans’ kind of delusions. They think that if they remain unthinkingly open to liberal causes, that makes them sophisticated and generous of spirit — qualities that they are earnest to insist they can retain as Christians. But they’ve forgotten how to stand for righteousness, mercy and truth.

Which is really “Christian”?

Tom: Well, social justice advocates redefine “righteousness, mercy and truth” the same way they have redefined “justice”, so what they end up standing for is not Christian at all, but the same words are employed.

The Contraception Question

Evans’ final argument is that “If we want to dramatically reduce the abortion rate in this country, we must support efforts to make contraception more accessible and affordable”.

Again, this doesn’t follow. We have a whole bunch of related social problems in North America, of which abortion is only one. Like all of Evans’ other social justice proposals, this one addresses a symptom rather than the real root issues, which are casualness about sex outside of marriage and disrespect for human life, and it addresses them by prescribing a solution that stands to make the root causes of abortion worse, not better. When we have a sin problem, the remedy is not encouraging more of a different sin!

IC: Yes. She has the idea that the problem is access to contraception. Maybe she could make that case in the ’60s, or today in the developing world; but not here, and not now. We’ve had all the “choices” we need; we’re just consistently making bad ones, and cleaning them up by lynching our offspring. That’s the sordid truth. The problem has always been sin. And it still is.

No comments :

Post a Comment