Friday, June 02, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: The Goodness of Abortion

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

In the last two weeks we’ve seen first New York then Virginia begin to rewrite their abortion laws.

Tom: In their new Reproductive Health Act, the State of New York removed abortion from the State’s criminal code and expanded access up to birth and the third trimester in what Governor Andrew Cuomo called “the most aggressive abortion law in the country”. Lawmakers and bystanders literally applauded. Not to be outdone, a Virginia Democratic lawmaker promptly proposed a bill that would make it possible for a mother to retroactively “abort” her child minutes after he or she is born.

“Safe, Legal and Rare”

Only weeks before this, Amy Hall wrote presciently about recent changes in the way abortion is being advocated to women and throughout our culture generally:

“The message being given to your children by our culture has moved from the regretful necessity of abortion to the goodness of abortion.”

IC, you’re an attentive observer of our ongoing cultural decline. How did we go from Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal and rare” in 1996 to the assertion that abortion never needs to be justified at all?

Immanuel Can: You go that direction because if in principle it’s allowable to kill a baby at all, then it becomes equally reasonable to kill a baby at any stage. There is no dividing line to fortify you against the slide. Even the passing through the womb, though it may represent a perceptual line, is indefensible: because there’s no meaningful distinction between a baby halfway through the birth canal and one fully out ten seconds later. They’re the same entity, and that moral line is purely imaginary, and everybody knows it. There is also no reason why full-on infanticide is any different, as the Kermit Gosnell case illustrates so horrifically.

Tom: And from the perspective of sufficient justification, if anything and everything now justifies abortion, including the convenience or so-called “mental health” of the mother (which to professionals currently translates as “But she doesn’t WANT it”) , then the same criteria equally justify infanticide. The bill in Virginia, if it becomes law, basically makes Gosnell’s crimes legal.

Abandoning All Pretense

But I guess what I’m amazed at is the complete lack of pretense at this stage. Abortion advocates no longer feel the need to tell us that they really feel bad about it and only want the ability to do it because sometimes people are in Really Bad Situations. They are all the way into full-blown, “Yeah, I just want to do it because I can.” That’s not even an exaggeration.

IC: Yes, right. And once we’ve legalized third-trimester abortions, two new things happen. The absence of them has been used as an excuse for abortion; but this is no longer possible. One thing is that the baby can now be completely viable outside the womb. The second is that the mother has to give birth or be forced to give birth — the issue of avoiding birth altogether is clearly impossible, and the baby must come out by force or incision, immediately. That means that the “it’s not capable of independent life” and the “to avoid the trauma of birth” excuse are just plain irrelevant now.

This is butchery, plain and simple. This is unapologetic murder.

Tom: Regarding the “unapologetic” part, the following quote is from Teen Vogue via Amy Hall’s article [emphasis mine]:

“To be pro-abortion is to face your own potential internalized stigma and recognize that abortion should not be exclusively about access, but about normalizing a medical procedure and life process. It does not mean you hope that every person has an abortion, but it means you advocate for the existence of abortion, not just its accessibility. It’s kind of like being pro-bypass surgery: we love its existence, we appreciate the options it offers people, we aren’t hoping our loved ones have to have one anytime soon.”

So abortion is now equated with heart bypass surgery …

Where We Are on the Slippery Slope

In response to all this, I’m seeing a lot of variations of “So what? Let Leftists kill their own babies” among right-wing commenters about the Virginia bill. As usual, there’s a huge failure of imagination in those sorts of responses, in that the Right always believes we have reached the bottom of the slippery slope, which is never the case. Then, of course, there’s also the incredible failure of empathy toward murdered children a response like that embodies.

IC: Yes, this isn’t the bottom. Paul talks about this kind of mindset when he’s describing the people of the last days to Timothy. Two expressions in his list are particularly telling: “disobedient to parents” and “without natural affection” (astorgeo: negative + natural love). That second word is specifically used for family-type love. So the upshot is that this generation will have no elder-respect for the previous generation, and no maternal/paternal love for the coming one.

Tom: Well, the next generation of women is certainly being well-programmed if they are reading Teen Vogue.

What’s crystal clear at this point is that the arguments the Left has used to date to promote free access to tax-funded abortion (the rape argument, the poor quality of life the child might be subjected to, the health of the mother, and so on) have all been entirely disingenuous, as you point out. The people publicly advocating on these bases are these very same heartless ideologues the apostle Paul describes, not poor, deluded men and women of goodwill.

A Conversation Going Nowhere

Is there any value for Christians in attempting to continue to dialogue with people who are simply lying about their real desires and motivations? Paul’s advice to Timothy is “Avoid such people.”

IC: Yes, I think so. It’s not the evil people of the world that we are to avoid, but rather any so-called “Christian” who practices these things. To the world, we have a permanent role of pointing to repentance and salvation, or alternately, to the certain coming judgment of God, regardless of whether or not people are being honest.

Tom: I wonder about that. I’m not saying we should drop out of the public square. There are always fence-sitters, children coming of age and well-meaning dupes to be convinced of any truth, so we should certainly not shirk our responsibility to be a public testimony on the subject of abortion or anything else. But if you look at the Lord’s own example, he was not particularly forthcoming with Annas or Caiaphas. If you look at Paul’s, he would talk to Jews in the synagogues in every new town he went into. But after a certain amount of resistance, he ceased engaging with the religious leaders who persecuted and lied about him, despite the fact that the argument may be made that these men still needed salvation. Is there not a “pearls before swine” or a “shake the dust off your feet” principle to consider in the case of hardened promoters of the abortion narrative?

IC: Oh, yes, I think so. But as the Lord himself said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” As you say, Paul didn’t forever wrangle with hard-hearted cynics, and neither did the Lord. We don’t have to keep pursuing people who are becoming hardened and dishonest; but we should not stop from speaking at least once. However, we need to be very clear about what we have to say on that occasion.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Kill

Tom: Fair enough. I wanted to come back to how we got from “safe, legal and rare” to “I am woman, hear me kill” in a single generation. There is still the human conscience to consider. I think there may be two separate sources of the impulse to celebrate abortion and call it “good”. The first is a guilty conscience desperately looking for validation. It’s the same impulse that drives some homosexuals to Pride parades in hope the balm of public approval will make them feel better about how they are living. The second impulse comes from the “seared conscience”. Paul says when people refuse to acknowledge God for long enough, he gives them up to debasement. These people “know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them”.

For the first group, there may be a chance of changing their minds if they can be persuaded their guilt is not a mere product of an out-of-touch society shaming them, but rather a natural reaction to having committed an obscene act, or having supported one. For the second group, well …

IC: Well, right.

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth. It’s the story of a man who goes through this kind of decline: first, indulgence of evil thoughts, then performance of “necessary” evil, then justification and cover-up of evil, then further evil, then dementia and finally death. The pattern’s also outlined in Romans 1: people refuse the knowledge of God, even though it’s before their eyes in creation, then they are given up to debased habits, then they become so wicked they call good evil and evil good … and nothing is too wicked for them then. They’ve dropped their moral compass completely.

The knowledge of God in creation is a powerful witness that we ignore at our peril. Nowhere is that witness more powerful than in the creation of a baby. That we unhesitatingly, gladly, and now gleefully violate the sanctity of that witness … well, God help us all.

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