Friday, January 9, 2009

Ourobouros -3-: Rethinking Choice

Reflections stemming from the anniversary of Roe v Wade

Pro-abortion advocates call themselves "pro-choice." The question we need to explore about choice is "The choice to do what?" For 95% of women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, they have already made a choice. A child that is conceived is a natural, biological, and healthy consequence of that choice.

Most, if not all, people find this statement uncomfortable. Almost instinctively nowadays, we think "I signed up for a sexual relationship, not pregnancy and/or motherhood." Why is that? Though we know all about the birds and the bees, we commit cognitive dissonance on an incredulous level when it comes to babies being the result of sex! Our postmodern society speaks out of both sides of its mouth (as postmodernism typically does).

Postmodern Double-Speak
While social experts preach "personal responsibility" more than ever, many lawmakers and policymakers, media personalities, and celebrities speak just the opposite. They seek to remove natural consequences of personal actions, speak of rights and of privacy, and patronize the public into thinking that emotional impulses are preferable to prudential actions. For example,

1. We have separated sex from procreation.
Again, the cognitive dissonance is so loud it's screaming. Babymaking, mating, and even our obscene words are vulgar expressions of the mating act--all these terms refer to sexual intercourse. Under the right conditions, sexual intercourse can and does make babies. Sex is procreation. Duh. So why do some people and some groups spend so much time convincing the public that the two do not go together? Activist sex education programs in public schools dispense condoms (and in Maine, birth control pills), giving children (yes, children!) the message that sex can and should be experienced without the possibility of pregnancy or sexually transmitted consequences.

2. We have made pregnancy and birth into a medical condition.
Instead of looking at pregnancy as a natural biological process, everything in our culture has redefined pregnancy into a near medical condition that afflicts females. Nowhere is that reflected more than in today's routine of hospital birthing. I find it no surprise that this mentality has spilled over into our common understanding of pregnancy, especially when it concerns unplanned pregnancies.

3. We have elevated our sense of self over others.
In our culture of supercharged self-gratification, we can no longer understand true sacrifice of personal goals for the benefit of others, not even temporarily. Pro-abortion feminist groups preach an inflexible doctrine that fundamentally nothing and no one is worth laying aside one's ambitions or personal achievements or benchmarks in life. In fact, not only should women avoid obstacles, we should eliminate them, no matter if they happen to be people. This is ruthlessness in its ugliest form.

4. We have denied our children their personhood and their rights.
Since Roe v Wade, abortion supporters have intensely denied personhood to the developing fetus in the womb. They have redefined an unborn child as a "clump of cells," "conceptus," "blob of tissue," and so forth. This is really unjustified. Rabbits make rabbits; people make people. If an unborn baby is a blob of tissue, then her mother is a bigger blob of tissue, yet for mothers, we don't deny them their humanity.

The fault of many Christians is having put too much emphasis on shaming the young woman who gets pregnant and/or ignoring her true needs rather than giving her the grace and support she needs (from birth!) to avoid making a bad decision which results in pregnancy. I once listened to a speaker and pastor who said that if every professing Christian couple in America would adopt a child from a woman who might seek an abortion, we would effectively end the primary excuses for abortion in this country, that such children are unwanted and can't be cared for properly.

The fault of other Christians is in exercising silent disapproval for fear of social reprisals. What a shame that fear of hurting the feelings of someone dear stands in the way of truth and true liberation. True friends intervene in a case of endangerment to one's life. Abortion is worse, for one innocent individual definitely dies and the other puts her life and health at risk. It's time these believers find a way to speak the truth in love. Christians helping to rescue and preserve mother and child--what a concept!

For those who support abortion, I urge a rethinking of the idea of "choice." "Pro-choice" is not a pro-woman position especially if a majority of abortion's victims are female, as is the case worldwide. Neither is it pro-woman if it is intolerant of pro-life women, as it is most of the time. And finally, neither is "pro-choice" very pro-woman if it is in reality an encouragement to abandon the idea that every life is important no matter the gender, race, origin, or even present location.

It's time to rethink how, ever since Roe v Wade, we have turned life into an arbitrary thing, something we supposedly have a right to decide for some others. We have made the unborn into a class of people that only exists at the will of another who has more power. And most of all, we must rethink how such a state of mind that accepts the deprivation of rights of some can ever progress the rights of anyone.

This post is written in memoriam of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), who dedicated the years since Roe v Wade to the defense of life at all stages of development.