Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rigor mortis makes the body move…

…but it's still dead.

On October 19 I wrote a post called "The Death of the Soul in the Reign of Pro-Choice". Today, the reader whose comments on another post about abortion ("Hard Truth") spurred me to write "The Death of the Soul…" replied again. I won't quote him at length, since you can read for yourself what he said, but I will just cite his key points.

The whole point of the pro-abortion side is to preserve the choice of the woman. In fact the abortion argument is rooted in the issue that underpins all this, which is the sexuality of women -- a point consistently ignored. Historically the function of restraints on women's sexual behavior is to support men's needs. …

The fact is that your position simply assures that more evil takes place. If you really, really believed that abortion was a gross evil, you'd drop your doctrinaire approach to it and work on ways to reduce it. … Your position lacks any moral ummmph, because you refuse to view the real consequences…. This tells me that you are more interested in displaying adherence to a position, than in actually doing anything about the reality of abortion as it exists today….

I know abortion is not a good thing -- that is why I'd like to see it reduced. And you anti-abortion types are preventing reductions of abortions in the world and the icnreased [sic] safety and health for mothers by making abortion illegal and setting up stiff penalties…. I can only conclude that the reason you adhere to this position is precisely because it generates funds and followers and enhanced status for yourself….

I REPLY (as always, where applicable, the "you" I use is intended for any one of the same mind as he or she to whom I am replying specifically):

Thanks, again, for more than drive-by comments. Despite the nuances you add into your position, which make it appear to be resuscitating, your position still amounts to the death of the soul. That death, of course, is only brought about by self-inflicted wounds, principally the perversion of one's conscience for moral error.

As in so many things spanning the atheist-theist divide, we've come to a point of fundamental commitments, which are hard to argue down. At first I could tell you were responding to me, myself, but by the end of your comments, the old street-corner preacher voice came out and the "you" meant for me became a "you" embodying all my religious cronies. Funds, followers, and status––gee, I'm honored! Unfortunately, snowballing into grand-standing like that indicates you are willing to use women as a debating chip on behalf of the larger cause of your anti-religious worldview. The last I saw, the bucks weren't pouring in at Catholic pro-life rallies and, as for status, brother, do you really think my reputation has advanced in a secular world by broadcasting my Catholic faith? And it's not just me: being Catholic stopped being cool five or six centuries ago. As for followers swelling the ranks, well, as a moth flies to light so man gravitates to truth.

In any case, despite how softly you peddle it by the end of your reply, your view still boils down to this: you claim to feel abortion is "not a good thing" (a.k.a. "bad"), but then say "bad" and "good" are just indicators of social behavior, so really abortion is "good" in a kind of torquey, twisty Darwinian way, since, hey, "good" is just what helps a society function within grazing levels. Your fairweather distaste towards abortion vanishes as soon as you smother it in the anthropological fact that "no sane society on earth has ever adhered to" a consistent pro-life ethic, which is of course fallacy (argumentum ad populum). Last I heard, not too many societies had put a stop to burglary or alcoholism either. But so what? Even if societies fail to adhere to moral law, it is still binding on them AS moral law. Your view never rises above saying the suffering of some pregnant women outweighs the murder of any fetal humans, a position which is simply indefensible, if you really did value human rights, chief among them the right to life. You argue from so many angles that, well, we live in a bad world, so we might as well make the best of it.

Incidentally, please note how you stack the rhetorical deck by calling any failed pro-life society "sane", since, by implication, societies with a good pro-life record are insane. Thanks for the PSA!

Notice also how you slip in the word "forced", as if people actually consistently held guns to women's heads so they get abortions. It is a sad fact that a gang-raped woman can be whipped in some countries, but that in no way legitimates adding onto the tragedy by committing infanticide. Your scenario about the hemorrhaging teenage girl is, morally if not journalistically, incoherent, since there is nothing intrinsically objectionable about a young woman dying from an attempt to undergo an intrinsically immoral procedure. It is sad that she lives in a society which does not support her in her pregnancy, but, yes, it is morally incoherent to protest her death as MORAL crime, when in fact it is a medical consequence of an IMMORAL effort, however mitigated her own role is in the case by societal pressure.

Your off-hand point about capital punishment is as dubious as it is chilling. It's a dubious tactic, because I know you can see the difference between the state punishing a criminal and women murdering their own fetuses. Innocent fetuses and convicted criminals, both subject to "corporal punishment"––dubious parallel, indeed. And as for your objections to capital punishment, that's a complete red herring (another fallacy!), since the Catholic Church's canonical laws about capital punishment have nothing to do with the moral debate of saving fetal humans and nurturing a culture of life for the good of women. What makes your linkage between abortion and capital punishment so chilling is how it confirms my claims about the pro-choice stance being equivalent to seeing babies as sexually transmitted diseases, if not, as your parallel suggests, criminal invaders of the uterus. This is why pro-choice propaganda tends to reek of selective misanthropy.

As for my so-called obscurantist rhetoric, a good first step in dealing with it is to reply to it, rather than brushing off the crucial thrust of it. Of course, brushing key points off is a reflex you've exhibited numerous times in our discussions. In any event, it's a very open question how rhetorical versus accurate my line about Papa Natural Selection and Mama Nature is. To wit, you end up proving my very point––namely, that making Darwinian "results" the basis of your morals, is amoral, if not immoral––by coming around to the point that abortion is all right BECAUSE people do it naturally. You say you are not condoning abortion because it's natural, but in fact you condone it precisely because it is natural, even though you replace the word "natural" with "normal"––a distinction without a difference––when you say abortion "simply extends a normal practice throughout human history." If normal, not objectionable. Could there be an any less ambivalent way to condone abortion because it is naturally normal (and normally natural)?

To sum up, I repeat: as a Catholic, I have no moral grounds of any kind to resort to objective evil (i.e., infanticide) in order that some other evil (i.e., the thorny problems of women's sexuality) may, theoretically, be lessened. If you can't address that principle, you can't say anything compelling to me. Moreover, if you can't grasp and follow that principle yourself, you are a rank abettor of something you at least claim is "bad." (Pardon me, but my poetic nerves are tingling insatiably: "an abettor of the abortion abattoir".) I've said it before and will say it again: woe be to your conscience.

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