November 23, 2014

May 4, 2012


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
•Sex trafficking
•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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16 comments

I am in dire need of some help here, since I’m one of those ignorant knuckle-dragging Roman Catholics, but I don’t quite understand how the Reverend Mr. Knox gets Z from X and Y in this statement:

“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.”

If we take Z as his conclusion: “Access to safe, legal abortion and universal availability of birth control must be a basic part of a woman’s reproductive health care.”

And moreover, we take Y as “Use of birth control… is virtually universal. As many as 99% of women use it at some point.”

Then how do we end up with X where “In this country, half of all pregnancies are unintended”?

It would seem to me - but again, I’m only a priest-ridden peasant who knows no better - that if “virtually universal” birth control still results in “half of all pregnan cies are unintended”, then surely “universal availability of birth control” is not the solution that he seems to propogate it as? 

Either 99% of women are not using birth control, or birth control is not as effective as it is made out to be, in which case recommending its increased use will only end in, well - more unintended pregnancies?  And therefore more abortions?

But then again, if an abortion is the same thing as a miscarriage, what’s wrong with that?  And as an aside, I wonder if Rev. Knox ever tried consoling a woman who miscarried with the cheery message that “Hey, it’s just like having an abortion!  And as we know, abortion is a blessing!  So you’ve just had a blessing!”

[1] Posted by Martha on 5-4-2012 at 12:47 PM · [top]

As a wild-eyed libertarian, I’m perfectly fine with people deciding for themselves whether or not to charge (or pay) 100% interest on credit cards or even whether or not to serve black people at the lunch counter you own.  It is, after all your property and your life.

But I’m also one of those wild-eyed libertarians that says abortion violates the most basic of libertarian principles, that of preservation of life.  Put simply, the unborn baby’s body is sovereign insofar as it is distinct from that of the mother’s.  It has its own DNA, its own heart, its own brain.  The mother’s dominion over the unborn child is that of a steward, a caretaker, not an absolute ruler.  Within broad parameters, she may choose how to nurture the baby, but killing it is obviously in no way acting in the interests of the child.

I can see narrow situations in which abortion would be permissable, situations that largely coincide with the exceptions the RCC itself makes, but outside of those it would remain illegal and socially unacceptable.

[2] Posted by Jeffersonian on 5-4-2012 at 01:22 PM · [top]

Just to be clear, Jeffersonian, I was simply drawing out conclusions with which Knox would be appalled. I wasn’t putting out my own preferences with regard to any of the things I mentioned. My preferences aren’t the point, since I’m not the High Priest.

[3] Posted by David Fischler on 5-4-2012 at 01:59 PM · [top]

There is so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start.

#1 - I despise what has happened to the phrase “social justice”. When phrase was originally used (and still is by Catholics), it meant justice applied to society as a whole. It was based on the idea that justice comes from transcendent moral principles, derived from the eternal nature of God, and that we have a duty to see that this justice informs the structure of our society. It was God’s justice applied at the societal level. That meaning is almost completely gone. When people like Rev. Knox use the phrase, they mean that what constitutes justice is derived from society. Meaning that whatever a large enough segment of society wants to do is by the existence of the desire incorporated into the definition of justice and therefore creates a “right” for them to do it. And if they can’t accomplish it with their own resources entitles them to demand resources from other people to facilitate the fulfillment of their “right”.

#2 - Argument four is simply asinine and ignores the necessary implication of Rev. Knox’s own premises. He argues that since women have free will and the ability to make moral decisions, whatever a woman decides must be supported as moral. This completely ignores the obvious implication that since women have free will and the ability to make moral choices, the necessarily have the ability to make immoral choices.

#3 - His opening paragraph provided little reason for people to change their minds as a result of his arguments. Since God’s love encompasses all creation and, by his implication, it is impossible to separate the love of a person and the love of that person’s every choice and action, it seems to follow that God loves every activity which could possibly occur in creation. If God’s love doesn’t stop at the abortion clinic door I can’t see how it could stop at National Right to Life’s door either. Therefore I will continue to oppose abortion confident in the knowledge that God loves me and approves of my actions simply because I am a part of creation.

#4 -

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.

This would seem to be as much an argument against the Obama Administration’s recent actions as much as it is against outlawing abortion. By forcing Catholic organizations to provide contraception in violation of their conscience and religious beliefs, it would seem that enshrining one view of reproductive ethics into law and denying religious freedom is precisely what they are doing.

This is where social liberalism diverges from libertarianism. Libertarians may believe that everyone has a right to do what they want as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of another (for a given definition of “another”), but only liberals want to make you help.

[4] Posted by Ecclesiastes 1:18 on 5-4-2012 at 02:15 PM · [top]

This completely ignores the obvious implication that since women have free will and the ability to make moral choices, the necessarily have the ability to make immoral choices.

Ah, but you miss the subtle implication in Knox’s argument, which is that when it comes to this particular area of human experience, women are essentially incapable of making an immoral choice. Whatever works for them is right. Would Knox deny that this is what he is saying? Of course. But if you were to ask him to name a choice that he would consider immoral with regard to abortion, I daresay he would be incapable of coming up with one.

[5] Posted by David Fischler on 5-4-2012 at 02:21 PM · [top]

I think dufus Knox meant to say that God’s love encompasses all creation, except for fetuses.

[6] Posted by Daniel on 5-4-2012 at 03:07 PM · [top]

Just to be clear, Jeffersonian, I was simply drawing out conclusions with which Knox would be appalled.

I understand, it just pains me to see “libertarian” used in that context.  I realize that the “official” libertarian position is pro-abortion, to our philosophy’s undying shame, but with Knox and his ilk, libertarianism begins and ends with one’s sex organs.  Once one sojourns from the wedding tackle, Knox and Co. quickly turn into order-barking fascists of the worst sort.

[7] Posted by Jeffersonian on 5-4-2012 at 03:19 PM · [top]

Well put, J.

[8] Posted by David Fischler on 5-4-2012 at 04:24 PM · [top]

I am not sure that Harry Knox is an Episcopal priest, David, but I agree with your sentiments.

[9] Posted by windhamnola on 5-4-2012 at 04:54 PM · [top]

Hmmm…..

1. Religions hold that all human life is sacred—and include the life of a German as well as that of a Jew. This belief inspires many religious communities to work for a world in which Germans are healthy and every Jew is wanted, loved and cared for. Those religious communities support birth control, safe and legal holocausts, and health care for all.

Sometimes you just have to shake your head…

[10] Posted by jamesw on 5-4-2012 at 05:42 PM · [top]

What a repulsive pile of stench! 

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.

Of course God’s love does not stop at the door of an abortion factory.  God is there weeping for His children.  To imply that God condones what happens there is just vile.

[11] Posted by Nikolaus on 5-4-2012 at 07:10 PM · [top]

I have always wondered why homosexuals seem to overwhelmingly support abortion.  You would think if any population would be sensitive to the “unwanted” of society it would be homosexuals.

Many homosexuals have felt acute pain and rejection in their life, and have expressed feelings of how hard it is to be “outsiders”, but somehow this does not translate into empathy for unwanted children.

Also, homosexuals often express outrage at the “arbitrary” boundaries in society - marriage is not for them, or they can’t give blood, or adopt children, or serve the military, or be a Bishop, or whatever.  What is more arbitrary than living outside of a womb and inside one?  At the end of the day there is an arbitrary line drawn that abortion supporters say “you can be killed here, but not here.”

What is more bullying behavior than being killed because you are unwanted and inconvenient?

I think I know the answer to why homosexuals seem to always support abortion, but it’s important to point out the hypocrisy.

[12] Posted by DietofWorms on 5-4-2012 at 08:52 PM · [top]

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

Most people in my congregation are pro-choice and passionate about environmentalist issues. During a Sunday school discussion about environmentalism last year, I gave the example of how banning DDT led to millions of deaths by malaria as an instance of something well-intentioned causing more problems. A very kind and talented professor responded in all sincerity that perhaps malaria was God’s way of keeping nature in balance.

That Christians can support such culture of death attitudes while believing they are the compassionate ones shows the depth of their deception by the Enemy. That’s why Harry Knox does not realize that he is not even making sense in his arguments. He is clearly deceived.

[13] Posted by KarenR on 5-5-2012 at 03:12 PM · [top]

David Fischler and </b>Jeffersonian</b>,

First, to David: There is nothing “libertarian” (please note that I am discussing libertarian positions, not Libertarian ones) about being in favor of an unrestricted license to abortion! Quite the contrary, in order for a conscientious libertarian to support abortion in any form, (s)he must start from the premise that personhood does not occur until after the baby has been delivered (disregarding the patently absurd idea that a delivered baby is not a person). It is possible for a libertarian to get to that starting point, but it is a tortuous path and one that is open only to people who do not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (disregarding those self-described believers who can simultaneously hold two mutually contradictory beliefs).

Second, to Jeffersonian: There is no such thing as an “‘official’ libertarian position” on abortion, either pro or con, because there is no official organization of libertarians. There is likely an official position of the “Libertarian political party,” but not all libertarians are members of that political party—some libertarians (yours truly for one, whom most readers here would consider to be libertarian) refuse to join for reasons which include (in my case, at the top of the list) that party’s “official pro-abortion position.” The party appears to be largely in the control of people who are either atheists (and misguided) or by people who somehow believe that the fertilized egg can somehow magically mutate, during its growth and development in utero, into something other than an infant human being (also misguided, albeit in a different way).

To explain briefly why I insist upon the distinction, allow me to explain the simple idea at the core of belief that tends most clearly to identify a person as having a libertarian point of view. It is neither more nor less than the principle that no individual or group of individuals is justified in initiating the use of force, fraud or coercion against any other group. It is an explicit proscription on the initiation of behaviors which will harm another person. Answering force with force is not contrary to this principle, so long as the counterforce is proportionate to the threat. You will also note that this is neither more nor less than a rephrasing of Christ’s summary of the Law and the Prophets in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and reiterated in several of the Epistles.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[14] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 5-5-2012 at 04:16 PM · [top]

Keith: I agree. Ron Paul, if I’m not mistaken, is pro-life, and that’s because he doesn’t start with the idea that a human being is not a person until they are born. Knox doesn’t agree, and then applies the brainless approach that says we should be free to do anything as long as we don’t injure another person. Maybe that’s better referred to as “Wiccaism” than libertarianism, though there, as you point out, strains of the latter who hold to the same approach.

[15] Posted by David Fischler on 5-5-2012 at 06:00 PM · [top]

It’s very convenient to assert that a person isn’t a person until they are born.  It’s also a “galatically stupid” assertion with lots of holes in it, even from a scientific viewpoint.

1.  DNA is determined at the moment of conception.  Your hair color, build, raw intellegence, talents, height, etc. - BOOM…done.
2.  If you go to abort an unborn baby at, say 26 weeks and the baby survives, the baby is now a person, according to this idiotic definition of person.  Yet the pro-abortion crowd would still want the baby killed.  Well THAT makes sense.
3.  God makes it clear in Holy Scripture that He knew each one of us before we were conceived; that each one of us is precious to the Father; that Jesus died for each of us so we could be with Him and the Father for all eternity in heaven, and that He has a plan for each of our lives.

[16] Posted by B. Hunter on 5-7-2012 at 05:19 PM · [top]

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