The Radical Religion of Abortion

Source: Newsweek

We hear a lot, particularly from the “new” atheists and their supporters, about the danger of religion, which–we are told–too often encourages a murderous fundamentalism. Such “tolerant” great thinkers as Rosie O’ Donnell have suggested that “radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam.”

I am inclined to think that radical anything, by its very narrowness, must give one pause and that zealotry can too often stumble into something unthinking, and therefore open to carelessness and exploitation, so both deserve a measure of reserve–a raised eyebrow of alert distrust, if you will–from the non-radical rest of society.

The rap against religion as an agent-of-mayhem has been enjoying a wide dissemination. Shortly after 9/11, talk show hosts like David Letterman deplored the violence done “in the name of religion” (which is certainly worth condemning, whenever it happens) but that righteous indignation has puffed itself up in a peculiar way; increasingly, all religions are being castigated (particularly the Christian church) as cauldrons of simmering violence only awaiting a kindling excuse to boil over.

We have seen our unimpressive Attorney General suggest to the U.S. Congress that “anything” could be responsible for the terrorist threats that still plague us. When Faisal Shahzad left a bad bomb in the middle of Time Square, the press, the Mayor of New York City and the US Government were all stymied as to why he might have planted it, and when he publicly self-identified as as a “Muslim soldier”, that did not seem to ring any particular bells.

Shahzad’s radical beliefs and associations, after all, were to the press and this government not so very different from those “radical Christians” who are “just as threatening as radical Islam,” and might at any send their children forward from Tea Party gatherings strapped with explosives meant to tear down America’s financial, military and political centers of operation, because . . . well, it can’t convincingly be argued that they hate America, so, it must be the religion-thing again. A lot of those tea-partiers are God-lubbers, after all, and therefore capable of anything in the name of their deluded creeds.

That is not to say that Christians are incapable of radical and deeply mistaken zealotry, themselves. While Christianity in general has been pretty peaceful for the last couple of centuries, the crew at the Westboro Baptist Church engage in such a radical interpretation of the Gospel as to be antithetical to it, and recently a pro-life activist embraced a deadly radicalism whose reprehensible result was quickly and appropriately condemned throughout the pro-life movement.

Radicalism diminishes everything to which it is applied, no matter how good its initial intentions, because it ignores the boundaries of reason and common humanity in its own conceit of self-regard. When it is mixed with religion, it is particularly toxic.

I wonder at what point radical environmentalism and radical feminism will be identified as the narrow-minded, fundamentalist-activist-transcendentalism (let’s call them religions, already) that they clearly are. In radical environmentalism, we have all the required religious accouterments normally ascribed to God’s Dupes; it comes with its own liturgies, rubrics and rituals, its own sins, laws and saviors. In the case of radical environmentalism and feminism, these religions even have, in Al Gore and Gloria Steinem, their own infallibly “pontifical” voices.

And these secularist religions have their violent radicals, too. The Earth Liberation Front, a little irony challenged, has burned Hummers in an attempt to save the Earth from air pollution and deadly carbon. And some abortion-stalwarts say they’ll give up their lives to insure the right of every woman to procure violent death within her own womb. Antonia Senior of in the Times of London, who–to her immense credit–is utterly honest about what abortion is and does, visits the Tower of London; after pondering martyrdom, Senior identifies what she will not die for (dolphins, England) and writes:

“I could think of one cause I would stake my life on: a woman’s right to be educated, to have a life beyond the home and to be allowed by law and custom to order her own life as she chooses. And that includes complete control over her own fertility.”
Any other conclusion is a convenient lie that we on the pro-choice side of the debate tell ourselves to make us feel better about the action of taking a life. That little seahorse shape floating in a willing womb is a growing miracle of life. In a resentful womb it is not a life, but a foetus — and thus killable.
As ever, when an issue we thought was black and white becomes more nuanced, the answer lies in choosing the lesser evil. The nearly 200,000 aborted babies in the UK each year are the lesser evil, no matter how you define life, or death, for that matter. If you are willing to die for a cause, you must be prepared to kill for it, too.

That last line should resonate profoundly with horrified anti-religionists everywhere, if they are consistent. I wonder if Rosie O’ Donnell or David Lettermen would find it troubling, what even secularists will do, in the name of their fundamentalism.

(Crossposted at Hot Air)

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About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Stephanie

    The only response I can think for that is ZOMG.

    ‘Willing to kill for it….’

    The fact that pro-abortion people are acknowledging that the fetus is an unborn person, and that aborting is the killing of this unborn person means that the work pro-life people do to bring awareness to fetal pain or fetal personhood could amount to nothing-because in the end, the ideology of choice is more important than human life. Ugh….

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  • Stephen J.

    Yet even in her “honesty” Antonia Senior is dishonest. She calls the fetus a “seahorse shape”, but anyone who looks at actual photos of fetal development after as little as 6 weeks can’t possibly mistake it for anything other than a human being in development. And she characterizes “complete control over her fertility” as a goal worth killing for without including the fatal caveat most pro-choice advocates understand and none of them ever say: “without sacrificing any opportunities for sexual indulgence”.

    I always thought it telling that every attempt to render abortion acceptable involves the obfuscation of our perceptions (“It’s not *really* human yet, it’s just a blob of tissue”), the terrorizing of our imagination (“What kind of a miserable life could you offer a child now?!”), or the radical exaltation of our desires (“So what if you’re not married? You want it so bad, and you know she can always….”). Sadly too many people in this day and age don’t see these as reasons in and of themselves to be skeptical of an idea any more.

    I always wondered why so few feminists were willing to point out that the ones who *really* profit from easy abortion are men.

  • G.R. Mead

    It occurs to me that there was a time in which the lack of respect for human life at all ages caused nearly all women to pray for and be thankful to have a life secure within any home; to have any time away from daily survival to even learn to read; to have life ordered by those who could protect her so as to be secure from the depredations of barbarism; and to hope for enough children to be born that one or two might beat the odds to live to adulthood.

    If she has her way in such a grim bargain as she seems willing to make — she may see it again.

  • shirley elizabeth

    Hmmm…control over her fertility is not the same as the right to murder. I, an educated young woman, controlled my fertility by taking pills, and before the pills (which was also before marriage), controlled what was in my womb through abstinence (you know, having and choosing complete control over myself)

  • From Minnesota

    Great article!

    Several powerful pro-life cartoons at link

    The newest one in on “What Liberal Feminists Didn’t Learn in Kindergarten.”

  • V for Victory

    It raises your eyebrow? You sound like you wrote that so your friends at the country club could continue to look down their noses at Catholics and still be friends with you. Did you intend that?

    Who cares about what David Letterman or Rosie McDonnell thinks about Christianity. When they say “radical” what they really mean is “any” Christianity. Just like over in the Iron Curtain, the workers’ paradise, the comrades in the Kremlin support free trade unions as long as you understand that “free” actually means “slave of the Soviet Union.”

    You are right, though, about the abortion industry having its own religion. They do not care about little kids. How hard hearted can you get? I am glad for all the times I picketed or prayed a rosary at an abortion mill, because at least those little ones were not dying alone.

    [I don't belong to a country-club. I'm a blue-collar girl, and much too middle class to want to join any club, even if they would have me. And I don't have any friends who look down their noses at Catholics. What an odd way to introduce yourself. -admin]

  • kmk

    Glanced through the “Having Kids, All Joy, No FUn?” and the photos of the author and her family struck me–what pouty faces on the parents–no joy or fun in sacrificing for the other–for the beloved–for those beautiful children? And her example of the 8yo and the mother and the homework? That’s a case of the lunatics running the asylum; that’s the legacy of the permissive ’60′s-’70′s parenting experts. As a mom of 7, I can’t imagine putting up with such disrespect and impudence–even from a teen–no wonder people are not having fun raising their kids! (May I recommend Dr Ray Guarendi–excellent, and hilarious, Catholic parenting advice!)

  • Zachriel

    Stephen J: anyone who looks at actual photos of fetal development after as little as 6 weeks can’t possibly mistake it for anything other than a human being in development

    That is not correct. It is very difficult to distinguish human embryos from other primates at that stage of development, or even from other mammals.

  • tim maguire

    I wonder how long it will take Ms. Senior to notice one of the inevitable conclusions of her ideas–once you recognize the humanity of the fetus, the moment of birth becomes much less important, merely a change of venue for the child.

    Since she recognizes that abortion is the same as infanticide and she supports abortion anyway…

  • Doc

    I would quibble with your example of the Westboro Baptist Church as Christian extremists. Those clowns are not Christian so much as despicable publicity hounds. They deserve to be ignored, especially when they’re being beaten with sticks.

    Abortion is a sacred sacrament to the Democrats. Catholics can and should force a change to their platform. You’d be amazed how quickly it would happen, too.

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  • Andrew B

    Ms. Senior sets up a straw man (or, as I am sure she would prefer, “person of straw”) in her closing statement. She says “If you are willing to die for a cause, you must be prepared to kill for it, too” as if they are equal possibilities.

    Who is more likely to die for the cause of abortion on demand, an unborn baby or a wealthy, educated liberal author? We know that millions of babies die each year, but statistics are unclear on how many of Ms. Senior’s peers have had to give their lives for the cause. She makes herself heroic in the cheapest, safest possible way.

    Her “heroism” is as convincing as if I were to say, upon leaving an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, “Well, all those shrimp died for my dinner, but I was equally ready to die in the eating!”

    Yeah, sure.

  • Doc

    Wow, Anchoress, you sure stirred up a flame-war with this one over at Hot Air. One moron said you ruined the site. Nice work.

  • Mary

    And then you get those — like the current occuptant of the White House — who think you can toss the kid in the trash after birth.

    And you get NOW’s rallying about Andrea Yates. To be sure, they said it was to draw attention to post-partum depression, but that’s a rather thin veil when they showed no interest in it before or after her trial.

    They really want absolute control over the end results of their fertility.

  • http://l Hantchu

    EXCELLENT article; this is exactly what has always horrified me about the so-called pro-choice people.

    I became a grandmother yesterday morning, 4:41 AM, Jerusalem time. Mother and baby and son-in-law (brave lad) all doing well. My cup overfloweth, and verily, is spilling all over the table.

    May all your readers be blessed with such happiness and simple bliss, and I hope we all get some sleep.


  • V for Victory

    [What an odd way to introduce yourself. -admin]

    What is this, the UN now? Introductions? That sounds very put together and polite, more polite than I expect. ;)

    Question: is a real anchoress radical?

  • Jake in Pittsburgh

    The brilliant Mark Steyn quips that when he sees one of those CO-EXIST bumper stickers– with an Islamic crescent for the C, the Star of David for the O, the ying/yang for the S, the Cross for the T, etc. — he’s reminded that in the modern world, most everyone does co-exist religiously…except when you mix any of the others with the Islamic crescent. Radical Muslims kill everyone– everyone– else. Jews aren’t bombing Hindus, Christians aren’t beheading Zoraostrians, Shintoists aren’t declaring holy war against Druids. But radical Islam is out to get everyone. Hell, they seem to be awfully keen on killing each other (the other guy is the “wrong” kind of radical Muslim).

    Co-exist? As they used to sing on Sesame Street, which one is different from the other? Which one doesn’t belong?

  • Lisa G in NZ

    good article anchoress…

    what troubles me about the pro-abortion position is the lack of pro-adoption…

    why isn’t a troubled, pregnant teen FIRST AND FOREMOST encouraged to give a baby up to a loving couple seeking to adopt?

    I know I must be missing something, but thousands of couples spend thousands of $$ just trying to get pregnant… what if it was much easier to adopt a needy baby instead of killing it?

    … well, just tossing this perspective into the ring… cheers from a Chicagoan living in NZ

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  • TeaPot562

    I have been seeing large ads – maybe a quarter or an eighth of a page in our daily newspaper by Planned Parenthood. Picture of a young woman accompanied by text in large type: “Someone you know is planning a pregnancy.”
    Not said “And we are here to terminate it (for $$$) if she really doesn’t want it!”
    At least PP is not running as frequent commercials as BP (on the oil spill).

  • Ps111

    How many drops does it take to wear away that stone edifice of arrogance? More at:

    Abortion on Demand Reverberations and Vicissitudes

    Ah, politics, not just local, but personal…

  • thinkingabovemypaygrade

    …Prediction: As ULTRASOUND technology shows the fetus more & more clearly…
    so will women – men see what their CHILD looks like more & more clearly…!

    And those calling for the child sacrifices will have to come up with ways to obscure the sharp images of emerging human life!!!