The Pretzel Logic of Abortion Advocacy
The odious Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (also known as the Church of Moloch) recently replaced its High Priest of Kiddie Death. The new mouthpiece for the Grim Reaper is one Harry Knox, an Episcopal priest, who has an article at the Huffington Post entitled, “Why Religious People Should Support the Rights of Women in Reproductive Decisions”:
Lately, headlines have been full of reports of religious condemnation of abortion and birth control. As a person of deep faith, I believe the opposite: I believe that—as a matter of social justice—religious people should support the rights of women to make decisions about bearing children, including about abortion and birth control. God’s love encompasses all creation. It includes a woman in labor and it includes a woman having an abortion. It does not stop at the door to a women’s clinic. For women, justice must include the right to make decisions about sexuality and reproduction.
So because it is part of creation, God loves it when women have abortions. Some other things God must love:
•Children dying from malaria, typhoid, dysentery, starvation, and abuse
•Women dying as a result of honor killings
•Poverty, war, famine
All part of “God’s creation.
This is a good time to reconsider why religion should support, not oppose, women’s reproductive rights. Here are six reasons:
1. Religions hold that all human life is sacred—and include the life of a woman as well as that of a potential child. This belief inspires many religious communities to work for a world in which women are healthy and every child is wanted, loved and cared for. Those religious communities support birth control, safe and legal abortion, and health care for all.
To say that RCRC holds that unborn life is “sacred” is like saying the Green Bay Packers believe in non-violence. RCRC doesn’t even consider women’s lives sacred, which is why it is opposed to laws requiring that abortion clinics report rape and incest to police, as well as regulations that would ensure that abortion mills are actually safe.
2. Religions value the responsible and loving use of the gifts of sexuality and reproduction. The decision to become pregnant and have children is one of the most important we make as individuals and couples. We have a sacred responsibility to support the rights of women in this process because women have the responsibility of bearing children.
So because women have the responsibility for having children, that means we should support any decision they make regarding it. Equally, we can say that since men are responsible for half the procreative process, we should be supportive of any decision they make with regard to where they deposit their sperm.
3. Planning one’s family is a fundamental right and responsibility. It is a key factor in determining the physical, social and economic health and well-being of individuals, their families and their communities. Religious institutions and people of faith have an obligation to contribute—as other organizations do—to ethically grounded policy on sexuality and reproduction.
The problem, of course, is that RCRC has no “ethical grounding” to their positions on abortion. What they’ve done is taken a totally mindless libertarianism—“people should be able to do anything they want as long as they don’t hurt anyone we consider important!”—and turned it into a political absolutism that has as much to do with religion as it has to do with growing asparagus.
4. People of faith certainly have differing views on abortion and even on birth control, but most of us agree that God has endowed women with free will and the ability to make moral decisions. Free will isn’t a matter of politics or ideology and it’s not to be exercised only when it’s convenient. An unwanted pregnancy or a pregnancy that threatens a woman’s health and life requires a decision that is made freely, with information that resources and support are available, whatever the decision.
So because God endowed women, and in fact all people, with free will, they should be able to do pretty much anything they want. Having free will means I should have the right to drive drunk, shoot off a gun anywhere I want, charge 100% interest on credit cards, refuse to serve black people at my lunch counter. Sounds like fun.
5. Reproductive rights are central to the lives of women and girls along with access to education, health care, equal opportunity and human rights. Women’s full participation in life and full expression of self requires that reproductive health care and options are available. This is especially true for women who are economically marginalized, who have unintended pregnancy rates that are four times as great as other women. In this country, half of all pregnancies are unintended and about half of those end in abortion. That means one in three women will have an abortion at some point in life. Use of birth control, which some opponents equate with abortion, is virtually universal. As many as 99% of women use it at some point. Access to safe, legal abortion and universal availability of birth control must be a basic part of a woman’s reproductive health care.
Last time I checked, birth control is universally available. If it weren’t you wouldn’t be able to come up with a figure of 99% of women using it at some point, would you? (I know the number is bogus, but if we accept it, it makes the claim that somehow women are being denied access to birth control because the Catholic bishops are meanies ridiculous.) As for those who “equate” birth control with abortion, it sounds to me like that’s just what Knox is doing here. For non-Catholics, however, the two are not necessarily morally equivalent, and having access to one says nothing whatsoever about whether one should have access to the other on anything remotely like the same terms.
6. We are a nation with a rich diversity of religious traditions. Decisions about birth control and abortion are medical decisions and are also decisions of conscience—what an individual believes is ethical. Since religions have varying views about reproductive rights, enshrining any one view into law restricts the ability of those who disagree to follow their own conscience and religious beliefs—thus denying them religious freedom.
Meaningless gibberish. Mormon fundamentalists claim the religious freedom to treat women like chattel. Certain Islamic lunatics claim the right to engage in honor killings of women if they step out of line. Knox would undoubtedly condemn such attitudes, and deny them the actions any protection in law. Diversity in moral opinions does not mean that we are forced to default to an absolutist libertarian position.
The harsh and condemning judgments of some religious leaders are troubling. They suggest that abortion is morally wrong, while ignoring the fact that miscarriages and unwanted pregnancies are common. They deny that God is present in these times.
Chris Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, who found this piece of dreck, has a terrific response to this bit of alleged “thought”:
(1) The harsh and condemning judgments about dropping a nuclear bomb on Tehran are troubling. They suggest that the complete annihilation of Iran’s largest city and every single man, woman and child in it is morally wrong while ignoring the fact that hurricanes and tsunamis regularly destroy cities and kill innocent people. They deny that God is present in these times
(2) The harsh and condemning judgments about setting off that bomb in a crowded city are troubling. They suggest that terrorism is morally wrong while ignorning the fact that volcanoes regularly explode, killing thousands of people all over the world. They deny that God is present in these times.
(3) Your harsh and condemning judgments about me boinking your wife are troubling. They suggest that adultery is morally wrong while ignoring the fact that more men and women have sex outside of so-called “wedlock” than in it. They deny that God is present in these times.
Feel free to supply your own in the comments.
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