Last week on the Catholic League’s blog the organization’s president Bill Donohue decided to jump on the SEO advantage that came with The Satanic Temple’s (TST’s) recently settled lawsuit against Warner Brothers. However, dear Bill (to his credit) didn’t want to wade into the rampant misunderstanding of intellectual property law that was taking place and instead opted to focus on TST’s reproductive rights advocacy.
Let’s see what Bill Has to Say
“The Satanic Temple has a list of legal restrictions on abortion that it finds objectionable: they range from ultrasound tests that allow the mother to hear the heartbeat of her baby to mandatory waiting periods. They also seek to undermine crisis pregnancy centers. So zealous are the Satanists in their quest for abortion rights that they oppose burial rights for the remains of children who have been aborted. To say they love abortion is hardly a stretch.”
To say that Bill is being disingenuous is a bit of an understatement here. TST, as well as I’m able to ascertain from my vantage point as a member of the organization who knows everyone involved as well as anybody, doesn’t find ultrasound tests objectionable. They find mandatory ultrasound tests as a prerequisite to obtaining an abortion objectionable. Likewise, if someone wants to bury their miscarriage that’s their business, but it’s clearly problematic for the state to require such funeral ceremonies because the sole purpose of such requirements is to use unproven, unverifiable, philosophical opinions as a means of establishing financial impediments to people exercising their constitutionally protected right to medical services.
I’m Thankful for Safe, Legal Abortion
It’s certainly hyperbole to say Satanists (to the extent I can speak on my own behalf as one) “love abortion.” But let’s extrapolate from the spirit of Bill’s comments and try and address the core of what appears to be his position. As a toady of the Roman Catholic Pope, Bill believes that as soon as sperm and egg come together post-coitus, the resulting embryo has been ‘ensouled’ by god, and thus to terminate a pregnancy (or, one assumes, to miscarry or destroy leftover embryos from In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments) is tantamount to murder. Thankfully, the law is not on his side, and it very much is the position of TST that the continued legality of such procedures is ethical, humane, and worthy of defense from theocratic sycophants like Bill.
As much as I proudly consider myself a friend to TST’s founders, National Council members, and a preponderance of Chapterheads around the world, it isn’t my place to speak on behalf of the organization. But as a Satanist I can speak on the philosophical underpinnings for my position on abortion rights, and why Donohue is just being a simplistic, emotionally manipulative hack.
Anti-Abortion Absolutism is an Insult to the Purpose of Religion
If we are to accept that religion serves any just purpose in secular society it is that it provides comfort and help to the afflicted in ways that secular government either cannot or has not. This purpose is simply and completely betrayed by insistence that an embryo or fetus is the same thing as a baby.
Consider someone who just suffered a miscarriage. Is it really more compassionate and sympathetic to tell them that their would-be child was snuffed out before even being given a chance to live because a capricious and all-powerful deity saw fit to make them suffer for some unknown offense? Or worse, for the so-called sin of an ancestor generations past? That a previously expectant mother should venerate and beg mercy from such a monster in her time of suffering seems unconscionably cruel to me. I would think it’s far more consoling to use the scientifically-demonstrated truth that sexual reproduction is an imperfect process resulting from the trial-and-error of our evolutionary past and that comfort (if any) can be taken in the knowledge that the glob of cells they had hoped would become a child one day was incapable of suffering or experiencing pain before becoming viable.
Likewise, it is equally cruel to rip the hope offered by science and IVF treatment from the hands of would-be parents by demanding they consider the un-implanted embryos that such treatment requires equal to the one that has resulted in a pregnancy. The concept of ‘ensoulment’ at conception demands that one consider IVF treatment a kind of sacrifice in which several so-called ‘preborn children’ are killed in exchange for that chance at one actual living child and muddies the waters of scientific progress by equating it with black magic ritual straight from the Malleus Maleficarum.
As an expectant father-to-be myself I must say: That is not compassion; that is not kindness. It is instead, if you’ll forgive the ironic use of terminology, a diabolical manipulation of the emotions of the tragedy stricken in a petty attempt to demand subservience and allegiance to an unproven, uncaring, malignant supernatural dictator so that bloviators like Bill can continue to fill their PO box with checks from Catholic grandmother’s pension funds. It’s cynical, cruel, and morally repugnant.
Who Did Bill Even Talk to Anyway?
According to his post, Donohue claims to have had a brief correspondence with TST regarding the Temple’s opinion on abortion rights. Though, again, as someone who is rather well acquainted with anyone who can speak on behalf of the organization I’m at a loss. The gmail account he apparently contacted isn’t in my contacts anywhere, nor is the address listed on any of TST’s websites or media. No one I know has come forward claiming to be the person he was in correspondence with, so I’m hard pressed to believe he was talking to anyone that could speak with any sense of authority within TST. In fact, a google search of the address he allegedly corresponded with found that the only reference to said address is the post in question. So that is a bit suspicious in itself.
However, if Bill would like to arrange an actual conversation he is free to reach out, as I would be glad to help facilitate such a discussion if he’s so inclined on my podcast, or perhaps one of TST’s ventures on their soon-to-launch Satanic Space.